Formula 1

ANALYSIS: Assessing The Grid: 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

5 Mins read
Credit: Alpine F1 Team

The Hungarian Grand Prix gave us an eventful race right before the teams and drivers get to have a well-deserved summer break. 

After the events of the seventy laps in Hungary we now have a new driver on top of the Drivers’ Championship and a new team on top of the Constructors’.

For the neutral fans, the race had it all. A wet start, an eventful first lap and a brand-new race winner. Lets take a look at how all twenty drivers faired in the bonanza that was the Hungaroring. 

Top of the class

Esteban Ocon

Qualifying margin to team-mate: -0.062s | Race margin to team-mate: -15.651s

Esteban Ocon claimed his first victory in his Formula 1 career and a first for Alpine F1 Team Ocon was able to miss the wet track chaos on the first lap when Valtteri Bottas collided with Lando Norris, causing a big crash of multiple drivers and the race to be red flagged.

Come race restart on Lap 4, Lewis Hamilton was the only driver that decided not to pit for slick tyres on the formation lap meaning that Ocon, who was first out of the pits on race start, was promoted to first when Hamilton was forced to pit at the end of the lap.

The Frenchman had seasoned race winner in Sebastian Vettel on his tail throughout the whole race but was ultimately able to keep him at bay and secure a historic victory. 

Sebastian Vettel

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Stroll knocked out in Q2 | Race margin to team-mate: Stroll DNF

Vettel may have become an unfortunate victim of a technical infringement but that doesn’t take away the fantastic driving he did.

Vettel was able to cross the line in second place after keeping within just a couple of second of Ocon throughout the whole race. The German was unfortunate not to take the race win as his car seemed to have the power but just couldn’t find the right place to overtake.

Vettel’s weekend took a bad turn after the race when he was disqualified due to his car not having the one litre of fuel left at the end of the race for a sample. 

Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team are planning to appeal to decision so only time will tell if he gets his second-place finish back.

Lewis Hamilton

Qualifying margin to team-mate: -0.315s | Race margin to team-mate: Bottas DNF

Hamilton may have lost his chances of a race win when he decided not to pit on the race restart, but he did a stellar job of making his way through the field, all the way to the podium.

The win could have been in his hands when a second pit stop saw him on a late charge but Fernando Alonso, who was sitting in fourth, made it hard work for Hamilton to pass with some hard defending. 

Hamilton crossed the line in third but was promoted to second after Vettel’s disqualification. He has now overtaken Max Verstappen to sit top of the Drivers’ Championship and his team Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team top of the Constructors’.

Credit: LAT Images

Carlos Sainz Jr.

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Knocked out in Q2 | Race margin to team-mate: Leclerc DNF

Carlos Sainz Jr’s. weekend got off to a bad start when he crashed out in Q2 during qualifying meaning he was starting the race in fifteenth.

His race excelled when he was another driver that was able to use the first lap chaos to his advantage, finding himself in fourth come the race restart. 

Sainz Jr. was able to climb to third and it looked as if he’d be the final person on the podium, but Hamilton was able to take that away with a few laps left.

However, he was promoted to third after the race due to Vettel’s disqualification, the second time he’s been given a podium after a race finish.

Fernando Alonso

Qualifying margin to team-mate: +0.062s | Race margin to team-mate: +15.651s

Alonso claimed the fans “Driver of the Day” for his heroic defending of Hamilton. Not only that but Alonso was able to bring home fourth after Vettel’s disqualification.

People were slightly dubious of Alonso coming back to the sport, but he’s been nothing but a joy to watch. What a great race for the Spaniard to celebrate turning forty. 

Williams Racing

It had been a long time coming but Williams Racing finally scored their first points of the year. Both drivers finished in the top ten with Nicholas Latifi coming in seventh and George Russell in eighth, a grand total of ten points. That now puts Williams in eighth in the Constructors’ Championship.

In the lead up to the race, Russell said that he believed Hungary would be the team’s weekend to score points. After qualifying, it didn’t look like it would happen when both drivers were knocked out in Q1. 

Come race day, they both avoided the chaos, with Latifi even being as high as third. Emotions were high after the race with Russell visibly emotional during an interview.

Homework to do

Valtteri Bottas

Qualifying margin to team-mate: +0.315s | Race margin to team-mate: DNF

For someone that’s fighting for his place at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas’ first lap antics in Hungary wouldn’t sway things in his favour. 

The race was a wet start and Bottas managed to find himself the villain to multiple drivers. Going into Turn 1, Bottas went into the back of Lando Norris, who was then subsequently pushed into Max Verstappen. Bottas couldn’t control his car and hit Sergio Pérez. 

Due to the collision, both Norris and Pérez were forced to retire, as well as Bottas himself. 

Lance Stroll

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Knocked out in Q2 | Race margin to team-mate: DNF

Lance Stroll was also a driver that caused a domino effect of incidents. He went into Charles Leclerc at Turn 1. Daniel Ricciardo tried to avoid the pair but was clipped by Leclerc and spun around.

Stroll and Leclerc were forced to retire. Leclerc came out on twitter and said:

Daniel Ricciardo

Qualifying margin to team-mate: -Knocked out in Q2 | Race margin to team-mate: Norris DNF

Ricciardo’s race was out of his hands after sustaining damage on the first lap. He was able to stay in the race but struggled to climb the field and could only finish eleventh, making it the first time this year that McLaren F1 Team didn’t score points.

What let Ricciardo down in Hungary was his qualifying. Yet again, Ricciardo was out in Q2, starting the race in eleventh. He was up to second before he was clipped, another driver whose race could have been a different story if they were able to avoid the first lap chaos.

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN

Nothing seemed to go right for Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN in Hungary. Both drivers were knocked out in Q1 during qualifying and the team walked away with no points.

Kimi Räikkönen ended Nikita Mazepin’s race when the Finnish driver was released into the path of the Uralkali Haas F1 Team driver during a pit stop. Räikkönen was given a ten-second time penalty for his actions.

Antonio Giovinazzi was also slapped with a stop/go penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Rest of the field

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda walked away with a double point finish with Pierre Gasly in fifth and Yuki Tsunoda in sixth. Gasly also claimed the fastest lap of the race.

Verstappen was able to continue after his collision with Norris, but his car was severely damaged and couldn’t climb the grid like Hamilton, coming in ninth overall.

Mick Schumacher was the lone Haas of the race and couldn’t take advantage of the retirees to claim points. He finished twelfth overall.

There was a grand total of six retirements, majority of them being the big hitters on the top half of the grid. Bottas, Norris, Leclerc, Pérez and Stroll all retired due to the first lap incident and Mazepin due to Räikkönen’s unsafe release.

Credit: Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team
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