February 21, 2024

Maxsports

All Sports To The Max

Lewis Hamilton’s rivalry with Max Verstappen is heating up again, Lando Norris is becoming leader at McLaren, and Logan Sargeant is losing his concentration – SIX THINGS we learned from Hungarian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen raced away with the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, continuing to pile on the accolades for himself and Red Bull. 

It’s 12 straight wins for the constructor now – a new record – and for the Dutch maestro, it’s win number 44 – something he joked he doesn’t want to stay on for too long, given Lewis Hamilton drives that car. 

For Hamilton’s Mercedes, it was a tale of two halves. Hamilton got pole position on Saturday, but squandered the lead with a sticky start on Sunday, while team-mate George Russell fell in Q1, but weaved his way from 18th on the grid to sixth place.

The Hungaroring has offered a lot for F1 fans to ponder despite the relatively predictable winner – and it’s good news for McLaren in particular.

Here’s Mail Sport‘s Six Things We Learned from the Hungarian Grand Prix 2023. 

Lando Norris has proven himself to be a leader with his second place finish for McLaren

Lando Norris has proven himself to be a leader with his second place finish for McLaren

The Hungarian Grand Prix was a great showcase for young drivers coming through in F1

The Hungarian Grand Prix was a great showcase for young drivers coming through in F1

Lando Norris has become a leader 

At 23, Lando Norris is among the new wave of younger drivers making themselves known on F1 circuits across the world.

With McLaren making up the whole of the second row of the grid – behind Hamilton and Verstappen – they were able to take advantage of the seven-time champion’s sloppy start at a track where he has had phenomenal success – and Norris showed where the future lies.

After that first corner, he was third behind Piastri and Verstappen, but he was able to dance his way through the various changeovers in position, and eventually wind up a comfortable second – securing back-to-back podium places for the first time in his career.

Last season, he finished seventh in the driver’s championship, and while this year he’s running eighth, two consecutive second places suggest that he has shaken off his rocky early form in 2023, where he finished outside the points in five of his first eight races, and finished no higher than sixth.

After his fourth place in Austria, and runners-up trophies in Britain and Hungary, the only way is up for the young driver. And he’s got competition in his team too…

Oscar Piastri has turned things around by finishing fifth, but still seeks a first career podium

Oscar Piastri has turned things around by finishing fifth, but still seeks a first career podium

Piastri has turned things around

Australian driver Oscar Piastri joined McLaren for the start of this season, and it looked ominous from the off – an opening day retirement, followed by a run of eight races with just two finishes in the top 10. 

But he finished in fourth at Silverstone two weeks ago, and he followed it up with an impressive trip around the Hungaroring.

Following the opening corner, he moved up to second spot, and whilst he was unable to maintain that position, he was able to claim a creditable fifth spot – and show that his early form is a thing of the past.

He was unlucky not to claim his maiden podium finish during the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Norris making the most of McLaren’s decision to pit him before the Australian. And Sergio Perez took his Red Bull from ninth on the grid to third, in a season when nobody can match the Austrian constructor. 

If there were any questions about Piastri coming into the season, he looks set to round off the campaign by proving that he deserves a top seat in F1. He just has to find that top three finish now, then the turnaround will be sealed for sure.

Logan Sargeant needs to concentrate if he is to get points on the board for Williams

Logan Sargeant needs to concentrate if he is to get points on the board for Williams

Logan Sargeant needs to concentrate

With Nyck de Vries ejected from his AlphaTauri seat in favour of Daniel Ricciardo, Williams driver Logan Sargeant is now the only driver to have raced in every GP this season without picking up a single point.

And with both Alpines taking each other out on the first corner, he had the chance to try and make up for it. 

Instead, his race was full of mistakes, and he finished in 18th. He was classified for completing 90 per cent of the race, but retired with one lap of the race to go, after getting into trouble.

After the race, he posted on Twitter: ‘Left it all out there today. Really happy with the pace we had throughout. Spa should be fun’. However, he needs to knuckle down and concentrate, and ensure that silly mistakes are removed from his racing style. 

There will be a demand to pick up something this season – nobody wants to be the only one on no points – but if he’s happy with the car’s pace, then it all rests with him. He has the backing of his fans – but he’s the man behind the wheel.

The rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen heated up after sharing the front row

The rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen heated up after sharing the front row

The Dutch driver got race win number 44 - but does not want to be on Hamilton's #44 for long

The Dutch driver got race win number 44 – but does not want to be on Hamilton’s #44 for long

Hamilton Verstappen rivalry heats up

It was bound to happen. It was the first time the front row was Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen since Abu Dhabi in 2021 – and we all know what happened then.

So Hamilton’s sticky start and Verstappen’s cruise to victory may not necessarily have been a one-on-one shoot-out between two of the best drivers ever, but they’re definitely starting to get under each other’s skin once more.

According to The Mirror, Hamilton said Verstappen ‘ran me wide’, and that opportunity opened up the chance for the McLarens to overtake too. 

When watching the opening back, Max commented on Piastri’s move to second place, with The Mirror also reporting that the Dutch driver was joking: ‘He’s like, “Thank you very much”.’

Hamilton has admitted he has struggled to be at his top form in the past year and a half – but getting to pole position again was a step in the right direction, and fans will hope that he’ll be up there with Max, creating the rivalry we all want to see.  

Two-stop strategies in Hungary meant that the field chopped and changed during the race

Two-stop strategies in Hungary meant that the field chopped and changed during the race

Two-stop strategies mix up the field

The baking hot Hungaroring meant there was a big desire for hard tyres, and almost every driver relied upon two-stop strategies.

That meant that the field chopped and changed on a regular basis, with drivers quickly changing out their medium compounds for sterner material, but falling down the pack as a result.

The quick pit changes became vital with positions going up and down, and those who were tardy were quickly punished and overtaken, sometimes sending them far back down the grid.

Late on, Hamilton’s pit stop took him from second place – albeit a long way behind Max – and reintroduced him to the pack in fifth place. Those kind of things seem to be much less devastating in one-stop strategies. 

Indeed, the only driver who didn’t seem to be caught up in these problems was the man leading from the front – every time Max Verstappen came in, he was back out clear.  

No drama at the start, with Terry Crews hailed for his pre-match chat with Martin Brundle

No drama at the start, with Terry Crews hailed for his pre-match chat with Martin Brundle

But some at the end, with Verstappen's race winners' trophy inadvertently damaged by Norris

But some at the end, with Verstappen’s race winners’ trophy inadvertently damaged by Norris 

No drama at the start – but some at the end

One of the biggest takeaways from the British Grand Prix had nothing to do with racing, but the tiff between Martin Brundle and Cara Delevingne.

No such drama this time around – there were no awkward exchanges in the burning Hungarian sun, and actor Terry Crews was widely praised for his friendly exchange with Brundle. 

This meant that the drivers took the headlines for a change – although Lando Norris was still on hand to inadvertently create more drama, this time at the end of the race.

Norris smashed open his second-place champagne on the podium – but the ricochet was so violent, that it sent Verstappen’s winning trophy flying – and breaking it into a number of pieces across the elevated platform. 

The £40,000 pink porcelain trophy was decorated to honour the new Barbie film – but maybe F1 will have think about sterner awards in future.