Giving us our fourth stellar race in a row, more news about next year’s calendar, and more rumour-mongering with Fernando Alonso, it’s been another very eventful week in the F1 world.
Hungarian GP Fallout: Suffice to say, F1 is on a bit of a hot streak right now, with its fourth cracking race in a row, this time courtesy of a remarkable chase-down by Lewis Hamilton on Max Verstappen. Just the tonic Hamilton needed after both Verstappen’s win and his own dismal day in Germany, his closure of a 20-second gap over the final 21 laps has to go down as one of his more memorable drives, and just as importantly, proves it’s a bit too early to be handing his young rival the title of “best on the grid”.
On the flip side, the highs reached by Hamilton and Verstappen were matched by the lows of Ferrari, who were absolutely trounced by the pair. Obviously it’s a track that doesn’t suit their car’s particular strengths, but a gap of 61.433 seconds at the flag is no less excusable, and unsurprisingly the Italian media have let them know it. Indeed, if they go from pre-season favourites to a distant third at the finish, there might not be a Ferrari left when the likes of Gazetta dello Sport are done shredding it.
Calendar Expansion on the Horizon: A matter that has been increasingly an issue this decade, the size of the F1 calendar has once again come to the forefront in recent weeks, with possibly 22 GPs in 2020, with even further expansion in the works (yikes!) beyond that.
Personally I don’t see any advantage to it – besides lining Liberty’s pockets, of course. More races cheapens the ones we already have, both in terms of their prestige and importance in the championship, while also stretching the limited resources of the majority of teams even thinner, to say nothing of the toll it would take on the circus as a whole.
Being in the paddock the past two races, I can tell you no journo or mechanic wants to be on the road for another race (let alone three, as has been rumoured), and I would hope that would be taken into consideration. Everybody has a breaking point, and I’m worried that of the unsung behind-the-scenes heroes are about to hit theirs.
Silly Season Gets Sillier: Well, that was quick. Mere minutes after the Hungarian GP finished, and out came the Fernando Alonso speculation, courtesy of Lewis Hamilton. Let’s be real though: there’s as much chance of Alonso joining Red Bull as there is of Pastor Maldonado joining Mercedes.
For a raft of reasons – they only hire in-house, he’s too old (at least for marketing purposes), he’s likely to clash with Max, he’d cost too much, Honda are not fans, the list goes on – there’s no way he’s joining Red Bull, and really, you could say that about any of the big three teams, making it fair to wonder if there was ever any “lobbying” on his behalf to begin with.
However, all this ultimately fruitless discussion does raise another important issue: what do Red Bull do with Pierre Gasly? A target of regular gossip at this point, Gasly once again did himself no favours in Hungary, and this performance was particularly bad as it will be the first thing in Helmut Marko’s head as he goes about finalising his lineup for 2020 – or perhaps even the rest of this season – over the summer break.
Certainly it’s not a good sign when Christian Horner doesn’t even try to hide his frustration, and with the car now a race-win contender, you have to think they’re considering bringing in a driver capable of a similar standard.