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Hungarian Grand Prix Race Review: Max Verstappen extends Red Bull domination

Max Verstappen extended his Formula 1 championship lead to three figures while helping steer his Red Bull team into the history books at an entertaining Hungarian Grand Prix.

His win, by a whopping 33-second margin, was a ninth of the season for the Dutch dynamo in only the 11th race, while it was also his seventh victory in a row.

That's a personal record streak for Verstappen and the fact that his team-mate Sergio Perez won the other two events this year means Red Bull become the first team in F1 history to win 12 consecutive Grands Prix.

That remarkable run of success started with Verstappen's victory in Abu Dhabi in the final race of last season and next on the agenda is the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.

What2023 Belgian Grand Prix
WhereSpa-Francorchamps Circuit
WhenFriday 28th July - Sunday 30th July, 2023
How to watchSky Sports F1
OddsMax Verstappen 1/3, Lando Norris 10/1, Lewis Hamilton 12/1, Sergio Perez 12/1

Pole joy short-lived for Hamilton

Verstappen's previous five wins had come after he also started at the front, but in Budapest he was pipped to pole position by old rival Lewis Hamilton.

The seven-time world champion couldn't hide his elation at coming out on top in qualifying for the first time since 2021, and historically there is a huge advantage to starting in odd-numbered grid slots at the Hungaroring, since they are on the clean side of the track.

However, Hamilton was beaten off the line by Verstappen, who had qualified just 0.003 seconds slower than the Briton, and by turn four the Mercedes driver had slipped to fourth behind the McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

McLaren consolidate recent gains

Piastri had been unlucky to miss out on a maiden podium finish at Silverstone, but he looked set for compensation by comfortably holding second place until the first round of pit stops.

The Australian rookie lost out to team-mate Norris during the first tyre changes and later also fell behind Perez, who had again started down the order in ninth, as well as the recovering Hamilton.

However, it was still an impressive performance and, coupled with Norris' second-place finish, is hugely encouraging for McLaren.

The running order behind Verstappen has been all over the place this season, with teams seeming to make a breakthrough, only to fall back into the pack the following weekend.

That Norris was able to become only the third non-Red Bull driver to score back-to-back podiums on two such contrasting circuits as Silverstone and Hungaroring will have his team believing they can stay competitive for the rest of the season.

An up-and-down weekend for Mercedes

Mercedes have struggled to fully understand what makes their car tick since the radical rule changes for 2022 were introduced and that was highlighted again at the Hungaroring.

Hamilton had not expected to be in the fight for pole position and he lacked pace so badly in the early stages of the race it is doubtful he would have been able to hold on to the lead for very long, even if he had made a better getaway.

However, there were times when he was the fastest driver on the track, closing down a 12-second gap to Perez's Red Bull in the final laps.

A strategic error in qualifying left Hamilton's team-mate George Russell starting 18th on the grid, but he did superbly to recover to sixth in the race.

Russell's car, too, seemed to sprout wings once the fuel load came down and the team will need to study the data to get on top of why it performed so differently at different stages of the race.

Aston Martin starting to struggle

Fernando Alonso started the year with a cheeky grin after his Aston Martin showed pre-season signs of being something special.

The Spanish veteran delivered five podiums in the first six races, but he has added just one more top-three finish in the following five events as other teams have caught up in the development race.

Hungary, a track expected to suit the Aston with its many slow corners, proved the nadir of the team's season so far.

Alonso finished a season-worst ninth and, although Lance Stroll was also in the top 10, their return of three points is their lowest haul of the year to date.

More of the same at Spa?

Verstappen takes a 110-point lead over his team-mate Perez into next week's Belgian Grand Prix, the last race before F1's summer break.

The Dutch ace is just 1/3 to keep his winning streak going, with Norris seen as his closest competitor at 10/1 and Hamilton and Perez next at 12/1.

Vertappen has won the Belgian Grand Prix in each of the last two years.

Hungarian Grand Prix Race Preview: Hamilton out to end Red Bull run

Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s respective win streaks are under threat in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix after Hungaroring specialist Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole.

The seven-time world champion had gone 33 races without claiming pole but snatched it from under the nose of Verstappen by three one-thousandths of a second after a thrilling finish to qualifying.

With the top 10 on the grid all separated by just half a second in qualifying and some big names starting further down the order, there’s plenty to get excited about for a race that’s got into the habit of delivering drama recently.

Mixed fortunes for Mercedes pair

Hamilton hasn’t been on pole since Jeddah 2021 and the final rounds of his epic title fight with Verstappen, a rivalry that’s only gone in one direction since the Dutchman won the Drivers Championship that season. 

But the Briton was able to celebrate a rare triumph over Verstappen in qualifying which gives him his best shot at a first win in 33 races. 

And the Mercedes driver knows what it takes to be victorious in Hungary having won the race eight times previously, while he’s been a close second in the last two editions, and is 11/4 to see the chequered flag first. 

Stopping Verstappen won’t be easy though with the Dutchman having been in a class of his own this season, winning the last six races, while Red Bull need one more victory to make it 12th successive win and set a new F1 record for consecutive victories.

Verstappen is 4/9 to make it back-to-back wins in Hungary after his storming victory here last year, when another Mercedes started from pole, that time driven by George Russell.

Russell won’t be anywhere near the fight for first this year though after a tactical error in qualifying saw him qualify 18th at a track where overtaking is notoriously tricky.

McLaren an all-round challenger

With Russell nowhere to be seen, Hamilton will have Verstappen and both the McLarens breathing down his neck when the lights go out on Sunday after another excellent performance from McLaren. 

The Woking-based outfit have gone from finishing no higher than 15th in the first two races to being serious podium contenders after a series of upgrades. 

They hadn’t expected the new parts to be as effective through the slow corners of the Hungaroring, but the MCL60 has been working brilliantly once more with Lando Norris qualifying in third, one place ahead of team mate Oscar Piastri.

Getting past the McLarens, who had the second-quickest car at the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, will be an enormous challenge and the likes of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin may not figure in the podium fight. 

Both drivers had expected to go well in Hungary but could only manage sixth and eighth on the grid respectively, albeit that’s ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who starts a disappointing ninth.

Hungaroring happy hunting ground for Alfa

Sandwiched between the big hitters are the two Alfa Romeos of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas after a remarkable performance in qualifying. 

The Alfa hasn’t been anywhere near the points in the last two races, but looks very much at home at the Hungaroring. 

Alfa Romeo were quick on both the hard and medium compound tyres, the two sets to be used for the race, and with a new power unit in each car, they have a golden opportunity for a rare double points finish.

Zhou, starting from a career-best fifth place, is 10/3 to record his first Top 6 Finish, the same odds as Bottas, who is seventh on the grid.

Respectable return for Ricciardo

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in 11th and the two Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, who are 12th and 15th respectively, will believe the Alfas offer them a way into the points, but have their work cut out to climb up the order.

Gasly will have to get past Daniel Ricciardo, who made a positive first impression on his return to the grid by qualifying in 13th. 

Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri is widely regarded as the slowest car in F1 this season so to get out of Q1 and take 13th in his first qualifying session since the end of last year was a good effort by the popular Aussie.

Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Preview: New terms for qualifying

Max Verstappen is in red-hot form after seven straight wins and will stay hot, one way or another, when Formula 1 heads for the sweltering climes of Hungary this weekend. 

The Dutchman leads the drivers’ standings by 99 points after his routine victory in the British Grand Prix and is 1/3 to make it back-to-back wins in the Hungarian Grand Prix after his supreme drive 12 months ago.

The two-time world champion made a mockery of the theory of qualifying being the key to success at the narrow, twisty Hungaroring by winning from tenth on the grid. 

Verstappen is the 2/5 favourite to start from the front of the grid this year as he chases a sixth successive pole in a qualifying session featuring new tyre rules and the return of an F1 fan favourite.

WhatHungarian Grand Prix - Qualifying
WhereHungaroring, Mogyorod
When15:00, Saturday 23rd July
How to watchSky Sports F1
OddsMax Verstappen 2/5, Charles Leclerc 13/2, Fernando Alonso 11/1, Carlos Sainz 12/1, Sergio Perez 12/1, Lewis Hamilton 16/1

Tyre regulations add to qualifying quandary

In a bid to improve sustainability, Formula 1 are introducing new rules that reduce the number of tyres teams can use on a weekend from 13 to 11. 

Most crucially will be how the ATA regulations affect qualifying with teams now forced to use certain tyres for each part of a session. 

Teams will have to run on hards in Q1, mediums in Q2 and softs in Q3, adding another quirk to what’s become arguably the most competitive part of a race weekend. 

Teams are expected to trial various strategies in practice in order to work out the best approach to qualifying with Mercedes senior race strategy engineer Joseph McMillan revealing they’ll doing more varied runs on Friday in order to gather more data.

Silver Arrows back on happy hunting ground

Mercedes will hope the data they gather points to another strong weekend at a track where they always seem to go well. 

The Silver Arrows have had a driver on the podium in all but one of the last nine races in Hungary, while both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton made the top-three 12 months ago. 

Hamilton, an eight-time winner at the Hungaroring, took second ahead of Russell, who had claimed his maiden pole position in qualifying the day before. 

After Red Bull, Mercedes arguably have the strongest all-round car on the grid, but they've tended to save their best for race day with Hamilton taking third at the British Grand Prix from seventh on the grid last time out. 

Ferrari eye strong response

While Mercedes grew into the weekend at Silverstone, Ferrari went in the opposite direction as they failed to convert promising starting positions of fourth and fifth into a healthy points return. 

Charles Leclerc lead home Carlos Sainz in ninth and tenth on a weekend where team principal Fred Vasseur admitted the Scuderia had failed to get the most out of a car that had looked promising in the previous two races.

The Italians might not enjoy the new tyre regulations given their issues managing tyre wear but their one-lap pace coupled with good traction coming out of the bends makes them a threat in qualifying.

Leclerc is 13/2 to secure his second pole position of the season, with Sainz an interesting each-way chance at 12/1 after taking second in qualifying in Hungary last year.

McLaren looking over their shoulders

Aston Martin also expect to go well in Hungary after previous strong performances on similar circuits and they are bringing upgrades to the Hungaroring which they believe will put them in the podium mix. 

Then there’s Red Bull's Sergio Perez, desperate for a good result on Sunday, but perhaps equally as important, a respectable qualifying. The under-scrutiny Mexican has failed to make Q3 in the last five races.

The front of the grid behind Verstappen is becoming bunched and McLaren are hopeful they will remain in the mix after qualifying second and third at Silverstone. They plan to introduce the final phase of their highly effective upgrade package in Hungary. 

This track shouldn't suit their car, but such was their performance in the British Grand Prix that they may be capable of outperforming expectations.

Ricciardo return unlikely to be spectacular

At the back of the grid, few would have paid much attention to AlphaTauri this weekend were it not for the man they've hired to replace the ousted Nick de Vryes. 

Daniel Ricciardo is back in F1 after a brief hiatus following his departure from McLaren last season and the Aussie is determined to prove himself with a view to earning a full-time drive for 2024. 

However, that could prove tricky in the uncompetitive AlphaTauri, which has only featured in Q3 twice all season and not at circuits similar to Hungary.  

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