Image By Michał Obrochta on Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
For the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, Formula One returns to the Hungaroring. We have compiled a list of things to watch out for, as Sunday approaches.
Formula 1 – Things to Watch Out for:
The Battle for 3rd (& Points in the top 10)
As we have seen in pre-season testing, and in the majority of the sessions throughout the season thus far, the Mercedes W11 has shown to be the class of the field, with both cars finishing over 0.5s ahead of the 3rd placed car in sessions frequently. As mentioned in our preview for the Styrian Grand Prix, if both Mercedes were to suffer from gearbox issues once more, the tight battle for 3rd could easily become the battle for the win. Throughout the weekend, Mercedes did not encounter any of it’s gearbox issues, and it is believed that Mercedes has successfully resolved the problem.
It was a shock, however, to see the third-placed Max Verstappen finish with a healthy 10-second gap to fourth-placed Alexander Albon, contrary to our expectations of a tight battle for 3rd. Fifth-placed Lando Norris had an even larger gap to Albon, being over 15 seconds.
Today’s qualifying session saw the top 9 cars which participated in Q3, Mercedes aside, setting laps within 1 second of each other. Only 9 cars participated in the session, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly failing to set a time in the session. Should any cars in the top 10 retire with any issues or suffer from any penalties, the final few points on offer at the Hungaroroing could see a close battle, with the eliminated cars in Q2 all setting a time within 2 tenths of each other, bar Latifi.
The “Pink Mercedes” RP20s of Racing Point will start tomorrow’s race on the second row of the grid, following today’s qualifying session. Today’s qualifying saw a sharp improvement in form from the team following 2 weekends of disappointment from the team on Saturday, with the team’s pace from pre-season testing having seemingly vanished, with the wet Styrian Grand Prix Qualifying session seeing Perez down in 17th, with Stroll in 13th.
The team has shown impressive pace on Sunday during the race throughout both weekends, and should the team perform well once more, they may finally secure that elusive first podium.
Red Bull’s performance during today’s qualifying session came as a shocker for everyone, with the team coming in 7th with Verstappen, and 13th with Albon. The Hungaroring has historically been a strong track for the Austrian team, and for the team to finish with just a single car in Q3 is something that is simply unfathomable on a normal occasion. It should also be noted that the team had failed to break into the top 5 in both Friday sessions, which likely led to the team breaking curfew following Friday practice to make changes to the set-ups of both cars.
With Parc Ferme prohibiting major changes to the cars following qualifying, Red Bull may be set for a long and painful race, with a primary objective set on ensuring both cars come home with valuable points, instead of a podium finish..
On the other end of the spectrum from Red Bull, Williams had a solid Qualifying session, with both cars making it into the 2nd Qualification Session for the first time since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix.
George Russell set a blistering lap time in Q2 to finish in 12th in the session, while his rookie teammate Nicholas Latifi finished Q2 in 15th.
Ferrari also finds itself on the opposite end of the spectrum from Red Bull, with both cars entering Q3 and finishing in 5th and 6th, behind the Racing Points of Stroll and Perez. Ferrari finds its chassis unhampered by the engine at the Hungaroring, due to its tight and twisty nature, with a lack of long straights.
Ferrari could find itself contending for a podium should the Racing Point cars falter. However, both drivers will need to show restraint and cross the line to ensure they can at least secure some points, before thinking about scoring another podium for the team.