The Day After: Back on top

Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas

It took all three races of Formula 1’s opening stanza in 2020, but Lewis Hamilton is back in his usual place at the head of the driver’s championship after winning in Hungary on Sunday.

And yet, as much as the day belonged to Hamilton, the real story was his Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas. For all the hope that abounded after the first race in Austria that this might be the season where things are different for the Finn, there seems to be little left after, well, that.

To say Bottas’ performance on Sunday was discouraging would be a gross understatement. Yes, Hamilton might as well be the mayor of Mogyoród for how much he loves it there, but you can’t just throw away points if you’re serious about taking the championship fight to the wire. Twice, Bottas let himself down, first with a false start that you’d shake-your-head at an F3 driver for doing, and then in his inability to hunt down Max Verstappen in a significantly faster car.

Indeed, Bottas’ failed chase of the Dutchman runs in stark contrast to the job Hamilton pulled on the Red Bull driver at this very track last year. On both occasions, the prize was visible, if not quite in immediate reach, but only the Briton managed to close-in and snatch it. As quick as Bottas is – and make no mistake, he is quick – it goes a long way to explaining why he’s watched Lewis win three-straight championships since joining Mercedes, and why, unless he suffers zero hiccups from here-on out, he’s likely to do so again this year.

Quick Hits

What the hell was going on with that ‘end racism’ display? Regardless of whether you think all drivers should take a knee or not, the absolutely shambolic organisation of it for the ones who want to participate only furthers the notion F1 is just paying lip service. As Ted Kravitz said on Sky afterwards, it’s not that hard to get right, is it?

Someone is going to have to explain the Haas penalty to me in the comments. Being told to pit for a switch from inters to slicks doesn’t seem like a ‘driver aid’ to me, but I’m guessing it’s a vestige of the ‘coaching’ rules that were created in response to Nico Rosberg a few years ago?

Whatever Red Bull is paying Max Verstappen’s mechanics, it isn’t enough.

Driver of the Day: Lewis Hamilton

Just an absolute beatdown of a drive. We could very well look back on this performance in a few months time as the point where he started to run away with it.

Worst of the Day: Williams

A lot of candidates here – Max Verstappen for binning-it on his out lap, McLaren for their pit stops, obviously Bottas, but I’m going with Williams. You can crow all you like about your Saturday pace, but if you start your Sunday with an unsafe release that damages one of your cars, and then spend the rest of the afternoon going backwards, I’d say you’ve still got a long way to go.

Quote of the Day:

“…and a few words in your own language.”

“My own language is English!”

– Johnny Herbert and Nicholas Latifi, in their pre-race interview. Johnny could use some brushing-up on his Canadian geography, it seems.