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2022 Hungarian Grand Prix: Battle at Budapest On & Off-Track

Last Weekend’s Recap: Ferrari Failures, Verstappen Victory & more…

Andrew Goetz
August 04 2022
Charles Leclerc & teammate Carlos Sainz - unhappy with race results & team management.  (Scuderia Ferrari)

The 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix saw its fair share of action last weekend, with Max Verstappen taking home the win, George Russell taking third in his first pole position finish while Sir Lewis Hamilton finished in second place. However, not all of the action was within track limits - notable moments have also taken place off the track and behind the scenes. Let’s dive in what everyone is talking about. Get ready for a wild ride.

Ferrari has done it again with Charles Leclerc finishing sixth in a major disappointment for the team. While teammate Carlos Sainz finished in fourth place, fans and F1 experts including Charles Leclerc and fellow drivers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have all questioned Ferrari’s recent race strategies. For the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix, the team implemented a two-stop approach where the drivers would start on mediums, swap out for more mediums, and finish on hard tires. This strategy came after poor performance results when both Alpine and McLaren used hard tires. On top of that, even Pirelli noted that it did not recommend the strategy to begin with in its usual list of recommended and alternative strategies it publishes before each race, showing the poor choice and unexpectedly poor results for Ferrari.

Ferrari star Charles Leclerc enters the pits, swapping mediums for hard tires. (Ferrari)

Rather than choosing a softer tire that would grip better in cooler track conditions than in previous years, Scuderia Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto did quite literally the opposite, a strategy that Leclerc said cost him the race due to his struggles to gain track position from a lack of grip and inability to properly warm up. Sainz and Leclerc started in second and third on the grid, however, they ended up finishing fourth and sixth (respectively). However, Binotto disagreed with Leclerc by saying that the tires were not the decisive factor that led to their loss, shifting the blame on the car itself: “Overall they didn’t work, but why they didn’t work today is back in the explanation of why the car wasn’t fast today,” explained Binotto. 

Carlos Sainz (f) & Charles Leclerc (r) putting rubber to the road on medium tires. (F1)

Much to the confusion of F1 and Ferrari die-hards alike, fans are seeing the potential of Ferrari as a team yet witnessing how continuously-bad decisions have consistently led to defeat. It’s likely that Ferrari will have to wait until next year before having any shot of securing a title, but there is still a small chance, with the right strategy, that a three-way battle for the title could ensue between F1 titans Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes. This year, it’s becoming more certain that Red Bull and Mercedes, who is notably picking up steam, will battle it out for the ultimate win. Max Verstappen’s win in Hungary this year further proves his capabilities of securing the championship this year, and many consider him on track to become one of the most successful drivers in history. Equally telling of what’s to happen towards the end of the 2022 season is Mercedes’ double-podium finish after leading more laps in this race than in all other races combined, a stunning improvement in competition from the Silver Arrow team.

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas (f) passing Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (r).  (Stellantis)

Ferrari wasn’t the only one who struggled, though. Alfa Romeo star Valtteri Bottas experienced a major fuel system issue that ultimately led to a DNF in the final few laps of the race after being forced to stop. Haas also continues to struggle with car issues even after upgrading them with better performance, a task that took longer than expected. Starting in 9th and finishing 15th, McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo started off strong in qualifying, however, he failed to carry the momentum into race day. Putting some epic moves on Alipnes and making his way up to battle Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll for seventh place, Ricciardo’s luck ran out when his collision with Stroll’s car led to a spin-out, costing Ricciardo five seconds in penalty time.

Aston drivers Lance Stroll (L) & Sebastian Vettel (R) waving to fans. (Aston Martin)

Off the track, there has been huge changes with Sebastian Vettel leaving Aston Martin and retiring from Formula 1 effective at the end of this season, with Fernando Alonso taking his place starting next season. Ever since news of Vettel’s retirement broke, Fernando Alonso has been eyed by enthusiasts as a solid choice for Aston Martin as they looked to fill their slot, and Aston’s quick turnover is a feat to behold. Vettel’s retirement comes with a video he released on his brand-new Instagram account where he expresses his passion and love for F1 and its fans, while also citing his reasons for retirement: His growing passion for solving environmental issues around the world as well as his hopes of spending more time with his family and young children were all discussed in detail. Vettel refers to solving climate change his next and “best race” that is yet to come.

What’s also yet to come is the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28 at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps after a brief summer break. Stay tuned for more details. It’s been a wild few weeks in the epic world of Formula 1.



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