Hamilton in another dimension – Wolff
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has described Lewis Hamilton’s drive at the Hungarian Grand Prix as “another dimension”, with the Englishman and Max Verstappen leaving their rivals in “a different class.”
The Englishman beat his teammate Valtteri Bottas at the start in a wheel to wheel combat, before he moved onto a two-stop strategy in an attempt to overhaul race leader Verstappen. That left Hamilton with the task of twenty laps and a twenty-second gap to close, which he managed to do with four laps to go and passed him.
The five-time champion took his eighth win of the season, in twelve races. Wolff said: “To dominate such an era a team needs to come together on this journey and create something special. It doesn’t go without every single member of the team but it certainly doesn’t go without the right guy in the car.”
“His driving today was just another dimension to me. The respect between Valtteri [Bottas] and Lewis in the first half a lap, we have never had reason to doubt that it’s good.
“And catching up with Verstappen and chasing him hard on the hard tyre you can see that these are two great drivers with great respect for each other. Only with respect can you go around a corner together at 180 miles an hour.”
Earlier his year Wolff acknowledged that Verstappen could become a legitimate title threat, he is only seven points behind Bottas but both drivers are over two race wins behind Hamilton.
Asked by Motorsport.com how important it was to have this result going into the summer break, Wolff said: “It just feels great going into the summer break with a victory. We’ve increased our advantage in the drivers’ world championship, we can take it in for the next four weeks before we hit the race track. It will be the opposite for our competitors.
Half marks at halfway point – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel has rated his first half of the season five out of ten, as his Ferrari team heads into the summer break without a win. The German is fourth, behind championship favourite Lewis Hamilton, Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
A time penalty in the Canadian Grand Prix cost Vettel and Ferrari a victory after they finished first on the road. Vettel has struggled to assert himself ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, who is fifth in the championship and twenty-four points behind the four-time world champion.
Asked to rate the first half of the season out of ten by Motorsport.com, Vettel said “Five, not happy with the first half. I think I struggled here and there to really get on top of the car. I think we’ve been trying a lot of things, so fair enough.”
“Obviously we wanted to squeeze out more, so you’re always looking for more, but I feel I can do a better job in the second half, and five is my number, so take five.”
He told Hamilton, who rated himself a high eight out of ten, that he should go for it.
Vettel asked the Mercedes driver, who cares, Hamilton replied if he hadn’t crashed out in Germany it would be a little higher. But, the Englishman says he believes you need to score lower so you have room to work on.
Verstappen, who has won two races and finished second in Hungary after starting from pole, said he did not rate himself in numbers.
Vettel teased him for not answering and ask if he used “letters” instead, and pushed Verstappen to answer, but the 21-year-old said he would find it “weird to say an eight or [another number]”.
Hamilton was asked to rate Verstappen instead and said he was “in the high nines” over the last few races.
Ferrari “badly needs a win” – Brawn
F1 managing director motorsport and technical director Ross Brawn says that his former team Ferrari needs “badly needs a win” to avoid pressure building, after “too big a gap” in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Italian team has failed to win any races in the first twelve races of the season, after being stripped of Sebastian Vettels win thanks to a time penalty.
In Budapest, the final race before the summer break, both Ferraris more than a minute behind race winner and runaway championship leader Lewis Hamilton. Brawn, one of the masterminds behind Ferrari’s run of titles with Michael Schumacher from 2000-2004, said that was “too big a gap for the team”.
In his post-race briefing, Brawn wrote, “One knew from the track characteristics that this race would not suit the Ferrari car, but not to the extent we saw, especially in the race.”
“The times from the third sector, where you need maximum downforce, speak volumes, as the car was so far off the pace of the Mercedes and Red Bulls. The summer break has probably come at just the right time because I’m well aware of how the pressure can build on Ferrari when things aren’t going well.”
Brawn believes at Spa and Monza Ferrari could be in the mix, he believes it badly needs a win as a morale booster and prove they have the potential to be a championship contender.
Vettel remains the teams closest driver in the championship, he is ninety-four points behind, while Ferrari is a hundred and fifty points behind.
Brawn says “had to fight like the champion he is” to win and described his final stint on fresh tyres as “lapping at almost qualifying pace”. He added, “Earlier, the two men fought a thrilling duel that went in the Dutchman’s favour.”
“It’s true Max’s tyres were shot towards the end, but Mercedes had the benefit of seeing first hand what the hard tyres could do, thanks to a long stint from Valtteri Bottas.”
A third race in the Middle East
Reports say that Saudi Arabia and Formula One are discussing the possibility of holding a race in the country, and team bosses have been asked for an opinion.
According to the reports from The Times newspaper, the teams and Liberty media are seeking reassurance on issues including human rights, gender equality and media freedom before any race could happen. However other sources say the deal would not be reached.
At the latest round of negotiations about the 2021 sporting and technical regulations ahead of the October 31st deadline. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said in Hungary at the weekend that the schedule could see an expansion to twenty-four races.
A source close to F1, says that more to allow flexibility, replacing the existing rule that states teams must agree to expand the calendar beyond 21 races rather than being a target number.
The Middle Eastern races have proved controversial, and that has grown since the 2011 Arab Spring. The crackdown by the Bahraini government has caused tensions between F1 and human rights groups over the region. Also, tensions remain over the murder and dismemberment of distant journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018.
Should the talks with Saudi Arabia move up a level, the kingdom would likely be looking at a third regional slot. This year, Bahrain was the second round of the season after Australia, while Abu Dhabi will be the final round in early December.
But the race will continue to put pressure on the European markets, with the plans to grow the sport in Asia with Vietnam joining next year.
Gasly hurting Red Bull results
Red Bull has admitted that Pierre Gasly lack of results is beginning to “hurt” the teams Formula One ambitions, dropping the first hint that they may need to think of an alternative if he doesn’t start turning things around quickly.
While teammate Max Verstappen took pole and fought for victory with Lewis Hamilton in Budapest, Gasly had another difficult race finishing sixth behind McLaren’s Carlos Sainz. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner could not hide his disappointment with Gasly’s latest performance, saying the team’s car should not be trapped in midfield fights.
He told Motorsport.com, “It has been a frustrating weekend for Pierre. The start wasn’t great, the first lap wasn’t great, and we shouldn’t be racing Sauber’s and McLarens. We need him to be racing Ferraris and Mercedes, and everything we can do to try to help him do that, we will do.”
Horner’s problem appeared to be that Gasly was not near enough to stop Hamilton taking advantage at his second stop. But admitted that both Mercedes and Red bull were in a position not having both cars in the points contention to maximise the result and close the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes in the constructor’s championship.
Gasly needs to take some time out over the summer to reflect and learn if Red Bull is going to finish ahead of Ferrari this season. The team remain hopeful that Gasly can deliver results expected of him, Horner did suggest that patience may now be running thin with a place in the constructors’ championship potentially at stake.
Asked at what point Red Bull may have to do something if Gasly does not improve, Horner said: “Our intention is to leave him in the car until the end of the year. But we desperately need to see him realising more of the potential of the car.”
Magnussen warning not enough
Daniel Ricciardo believes that Haas’s Kevin Magnussen deserved more than a warning from the FIA after the Dane made a series of defensive moves in Hungary.
The Renault driver believes Magnussen was not complying with the agreement between drivers and the FIA not to move in the braking zone. having initially resisted the urge to do so, the Aussie ultimately complained to his Renault team when Magnussen did it repeatedly.
The Haas received a warning from race director Michael Masi that was passed on to its driver. Ricciardo told Motorsport.com, “I let the first two go, I didn’t come on the radio. I don’t want to be the guy that literally comes on the radio straight away, I thought I’d let him be aggressive for a bit.”
“But then there were a couple where he was moving. I was committing to the inside, and then he was braking and squeezing as much as he could, and then I was I’ve got to say something. For me, it was definitely moving under braking, which is the one thing we don’t really appreciate.”