The Hungarian Grand Prix marked another key race in the future battle and the ever-growing presence of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, as well as the continued brilliance of five-time champion Lewis Hamilton. You can describe the weekend as the boy who will be king against the current king of Formula One.
Budapest could become the defining moment in both Hamilton and Verstappen’s careers, I remember reading about that transition year at McLaren between the now five times champion Hamilton, and two times champion Fernando Alonso. We know that Hamilton is rapidly becoming one of the greatest drivers in the over hundred-year history of Grand Prix racing.
Thought out Verstappen’s young career, remember he is still only twenty-one, I have seen him grow into one of the sports best hopes as its next megastar and the natural successor to Hamilton. Red Bull has given him the car and Honda the engine, to become the biggest threat to Mercedes this year.
The battle between Hamilton and Verstappen is one we and both drivers have been waiting for. Throughout their careers, we have seen both drivers be the last of the breakers, strong usually in the wet and become the megastars of the sport.
But, while we would like to see Hamilton v Verstappen in equal machinery, that is unlikely to happen. I don’t think Hamilton, like your top drivers, would like having a driver like the Dutchman alongside him. Although Hamilton has said he would happily have the Dutchman join him at Mercedes to prove himself in equal machinery
You have to believe that the five-time champion would like that, his sensible brain would be against that because of the three years of near civil war at Mercedes with Nico Rosberg. I also think that would be on the mind of CEO Toto Wolff, but he has suggested that the team would be open to it.
If I had written this piece a year ago, I wouldn’t have predicted that it would be a Red Bull – Honda being Mercedes biggest threat in this middle part of the season.
Mercedes strategy was key once again, they switched Hamilton onto the two stop allowing him to chase after Verstappen on older rubber. That proved a risky strategy as when he made the stop, but it became pivotal in the race.
With Hamilton stopping twice it gave Verstappen the opportunity, but with Gasly out of contention, it meant Red Bull had no one to hold up Hamilton. Red Bull believed that this has cost them more points in the constructors when they should have had the upper hand.
Ferrari at the halfway stage of the season, where we had expected them to be. The Italian team has been under-delivering all season, this has not been a surprise, but in Hungary, they couldn’t capitalise on a weaker Mercedes.
The biggest question this season has been about the teams battle internally, between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc. It’s a fair assessment to say Vettel has been ruffed a bit by his new teammate, I believe he got used to having the dependable but not challenging Kimi Raikkonen.
Leclerc is another driver who is going to be Verstappen’s biggest rival, we keep saying how cruel Bahrain was, but it was where we saw the potential. When Leclerc and Verstappen get into really good championship-winning cars, we could have an epic fight and battles.
I wonder, has Leclerc done what Daniel Ricciardo did to Vettel when he joined Red Bull. We now believe looking back that Ricciardo unsettled Vettel, that season was his toughest season with Red Bull and caused him to trigger the break clause allowing him to go to Ferrari.
The story of recent races has been Leclerc, he has scored consistently and on occasions beaten Vettel. How does that impact Ferrari if they next season have a stronger car which is able to fight for victories and if they are able to stop making mistakes, they will be in the hunt with Mercedes.
The errors by Ferrari, once again like last season are defining the season. Its been a case of repeating phrases like ‘strong and stable’ and ‘we are quickest’, without delivering the big results. No fan or commentator wants to see Ferrari struggling.
We want to see this six-way fight between the top three drivers and that what creates the races we remember. No one will speak of Paul Ricard they will look at the last four races, Austria, Britain, Germany and Hungary. But does this create a problem with expectation in the next half of the season?
Mercedes and particularly Hamilton, are strong in the remaining nine races are very good. The past two years the Englishman has taken back to back wins throughout the past six years, the only way I feel Bottas can break that with wins early on in the second part of the season.
But, the long term battle between the prince and the king has many chapters to go… and Verstappen could be racing for the next ten to fifteen years. Also, what can it do to Hamilton’s legacy?