Hungary Takeaways: Verstappen and Red Bull touching perfection

Hungary Takeaways: Verstappen and Red Bull touching perfection

Hungary Takeaways: Verstappen and Red Bull touching perfection

Max Verstappen delivered a record-breaking 12th consecutive win for Red Bull in Hungary, both driver and team touching perfection, winning comfortably by half a minute from Lando Norris.

McLaren’s record of 11 consecutive wins stood firm since 1988 when the once great team, now back on the rise, had Formula 1 legends Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost driving the iconic Honda-powered McLaren MP4-4, winning 15 out of 16 races that year (93.75% win rate).

And Red Bull have now set their own record with the possibility of breaking it themselves, as they now naturally set out to break McLaren’s win rate from 1988.

The only wobble for Verstappen was losing out to Lewis Hamilton on pole position by 0.003s, but other than that, the Dutchman and his RB19 were in complete harmony on Sunday delivering yet another show of utter dominance.

Verstappen admitted the RB19 was set to run better in the race, but his body language after Qualifying didn’t hide the fact that he hated losing out to Hamilton in particular.

Anyway, the double F1 Champion retaliated rather quickly, beating the seven-time F1 Champion off the line on race day and drove off in the distance never to be challenged, leaving the McLarens and Hamilton fighting behind him, as well as his teammate Sergio Perez who was third at the chequered flag.

So let’s get on with our takeaways from the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Breaking records, touching perfection, can Red Bull and Verstappen be beaten anymore?

Let me start by saying this: From the start of the weekend, Verstappen’s runs, especially with the weird Friday we had, due to the limited tyre allocation and new Qualifying format, did not give an indication that he will get pole, but his long runs were scary.

And indeed, pole was lost but the race was just a Verstappen/RB19 bashing for the rest of the grid, something Toto Wolff so eloquently described as “A field of Formula 2 cars against a Formula 1” after Max crossed the line with the person waving the chequered flag having to wait half a minute for the next car to cross.

Verstappen was able to build up the gap and pit without losing his position, he even had a comfortable margin when he exited the pits, and was just cruising around, even his engineer checking in on him after some time of silence, when the champ was just enjoying driving his RB19.

And when he decided to put his foot down for the fastest lap, he clocked a lap over 1.5s faster than the second best, that is until Hamilton closed the gap to one second with his fastest lap of the race one lap later.

You can bet that Max did not extract all the speed from the RB19 in Hungary

Max Verstappen, Red Bull make F1 history with win in Hungary You can bet that Max did not extract all the speed from the RB19 in Hungary

To claim the fastest lap a second faster than Hamilton was doing – Hamilton! in Hammetime mode, not any other driver – shows the extent of Verstappen’s dominance. Norris’ fastest lap in the rapid MCL60 was over 1.5s slower.

Red Bull even delivered a 1.9s pitstop for Sergio Perez during the race in Hungary, which shows how well they are operating on all fronts, nothing is left to chance. They brought a major and radical upgrade to their car last weekend with those slim sidepod intakes, proving they have no plans to slow down.

Speaking of that, recently Red Bull’s senior power unit assembly technician, Calum Nicholas spoke to the Pitstop Podcast, and he explained how everyone in the team is working so hard to make sure they do not relax despite the huge success they are enjoying.

He even mentioned how he, being part of the team that executes the pitstops, was irritated by Ferrari beating them for faster pitstops at the start of the season, and how they worked to get that honour back to their garage. Well, 1.9s in Hungary shows they are still on it.

I mentioned this just to show how Red Bull now are operating like clockwork from top to bottom, and that their achievements should be acknowledged and not undermined by talks of regulation changes to slow them down or going back to their cost cap debacle from last year.

Will they be beaten? Yes. Any time soon? Highly doubtful.

McLaren’s form is not a fluke, they are the real deal again

Since McLaren handed Norris and Oscar Piastri their upgraded MCL60 – Norris in Austria, Piastri in Great Britain – both drivers have been extracting the most out of it, confirming that the Woking Squad is now the second best team in the 2023 F1 pecking order.

The MCL60 has now performed very well in Austria, Britain, and Hungary. These are three different F1 venues with different characteristics and different weather conditions, and while Norris tried his best to warn us that the car won’t go well around the low-speed Hungaroring, it did, as he was just trying to manage expectations.

Smart stuff from Lando, as I remember a wise and dear friend once told me: “Always under-promise, then over-deliver.”

McLaren have now made the breakthrough but they need to maintain their form, which is by no means an easy task, but they have the momentum and two great drivers in their cockpits.

Like Norris, Piastri’s day will come

Pit stop 'didn't make much difference' with Piastri able to take the positives from P5 finish in Hungary | Formula 1®

Which brings me to Piastri. Now we’ve all known for some time now that Norris is a great driver, but Piastri was an unknown entity when he was thrown into the deep end at McLaren replacing Daniel Ricciardo who was beaten into a pulp by Norris.

But the young Aussie has been admirable so far, always in touch with Norris in terms of pace – especially after he got the upgraded car – with his race pace also not so far off.

He lost out on his first ever podium in Silverstone due to the untimely Safety Car, but he took it on the chin, and while he was compromised by the strategy in Budapest, his reaction was mature and didn’t rant about it, just kept his head down and went on with his business.

Piastri was 29s behind Norris at the finish line in Hungary, but he admitted he needed more experience with managing the tyres during the races and there is no shame in that; he is a rookie after all. His opportunistic start of the race was commendable and having to fight against the likes of Hamilton is no mean feat.

I said it before, and I say it again: Piastri’s day will come!

Hamilton’s short-lived glory

lewis hamilton pole 104 hungarian gp

What a great qualifying performance that was from Lewis, but then why are we surprised? He has done it 103 times before, but his 104th might have been the best, with his back against the wall having to drive the precarious W14, fighting against the Verstappen/RB19 bulldozer.

Both he and Verstappen delivered edge of the seat stuff on Saturday in Qualifying, and while we were hoping for the same in the Grand Prix, the fight was over by Turn 1, the #1 Red Bull making quick work of the #44 Mercedes.

It was as if Lewis forgot how to start from pole, last time was in 2021, and he took responsibility for it.

Realistically, a win was never on the cards for the Mercedes ace, even if he kept his lead in the race on the opening lap, as Verstappen was bound to catch up with him in the rocket ship he is piloting these days, but a podium was definitely his to lose, and he did by 1.5s.

Nevertheless, his Hungary pole was the stuff of legends, and he shouldn’t be denied the glory of it, no matter how short-lived it may have been.

Quick Hits: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 and the rest of the field into turn one at the start during the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 23, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

  • Great stuff from Checo, third place after starting ninth signified a great improvement for the Mexican, especially with the pressure coming from all the Daniel Ricciardo frenzy in Budapest. He needs to improve his qualifying efforts though, and the fact he said after the race that he is now targeting consistency and not the F1 Title, shows his head is in the right place.
    Verstappen won from tenth on the grid last year, Perez finishing third from ninth is a solid result in comparison.
  • Speaking of Ricciardo, he beat Yuki Tsunoda on his debut with AlphaTauri, but I wonder: Is Daniel good and back to his old self, or is Tsunoda just rubbish? Nevertheless, a decent restart for the Australian.
  • Do we need to say anything about Ferrari?
  • When are Aston Martin planning to show up at an F1 race again?
  • Zhou Guanyu’s good work in Qualifying (he was fifth) was forgotten after a sluggish start which resulted in the “Zhou into Ricciardo into Esteban Ocon over Pierre Gasly” chain reaction.
  • As for the new Qualifying format and limited tyre allocation… Not a fan, and when F1 is making so much noise about giving the fans some nice action on Fridays, that is not how you do that.
    As for the sustainability argument, Martin Brundle hit the nail on the head when he said on Sky Sports F1: “So many wets and intermediates [tyres] that never get used on the flyaway races get dismounted and torn to pieces so we could look somewhere else first.”
    Brundle said it well: “I don’t really like messing around with qualifying. People understand it. It’s a great format. It’s worked since 2006, it’s a really clear process. So I’m of the school of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”