W ’Will this world championship be exciting again? Max Verstappen and Red Bull are on a run, and Mercedes is cornered for the first time this season. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff warns against looking at 63 points ahead of Verstappen as a pillow. “There are still 260 points to be awarded per driver. Mathematics tells us: we have to take Max seriously. Everything is still possible. But we're not writing off Ferrari either. There is no way we can take our foot off the gas.
Experience shows that it is easier to catch up than to keep a lead. Even in races like six days ago in Hockenheim. The hunter can always take greater risks than the hunted. Wolff therefore demands of his troops: “We have to increase the pressure to stay ahead. Red Bull has always had one of the best chassis and Honda has made a big leap forward. Our goal must be to regain the advantage of our chassis from the beginning of the season and our engine from last year. 'Valtteri Bottas agrees:' The trend in the last five races shows that Red Bull has improved the most. But Ferrari is also making up ground. The only thing that you didn't see so well in Hungary was because the track is not ideal for Ferrari. '
At Mercedes, the large aerodynamics package has confirmed the figures that the wind tunnel promised, but the progress has not yet arrived 1: 1 on the track. Lewis Hamilton justifies it with the fact that new developments rarely show their full effect when used for the first time. A real comparison test was only possible in the third practice session in Budapest because of the capricious weather in the last two races. The new specification won. Toto Wolff explains: “The upgrade gives us more downforce, but the set-up of the car has changed with the package. It is not so trivial to find the best settings straight away. '
Verstappen with 106 centimeters lead
Ferrari was yesterday. Red Bull has replaced Ferrari as a major challenger from Mercedes. After two wins in the last three races, Max Verstappen is now starting from pole position for the first time. The hunt for the fast lap was previously the domain of Mercedes. Ferrari only competed with the Silver Arrows on routes with a high proportion of straights. Red Bull were mostly two to eight tenths missing on Saturday. Not on the Hungaroring. The car is as if painted for the Hungaroring. Just a real straight line, but a sequence of 14 curves. And today's Red Bull is no longer the mid-June Red Bull. The RB15 has grown up.
This means that Ferrari is out of the race for the time being. The red cars were only a force in the first sector with the home stretch. After all, they draw on it up to Turn 12. Then Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel break in again in the last three corners. As usual, the tires lost grip. The balance fluctuated between oversteer at the entrance to the curve and understeer when driving out. Between Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas it was all about blinking the eye. The GPS analysis shows where the advantages of the two cars lie. Mercedes wins two tenths on the straights. Red Bull takes it back, especially in the medium-fast corners.
Bottas was faster in corners 6, 7 and 12 compared to Verstappen. All of them have curves with short radii. Verstappen wins on turns 2, 4, 8 and 13. Mainly on the brakes and in the first part of the turn. The Mercedes is faster when driving out. If you put the two driving curves of Verstappen and Bottas on top of each other, Bottas first takes over the command. In turn 2, however, Verstappen is already ahead with nine hundredths. Bottas takes the lead in turn 12. His lead is just as minimal: nine hundredths again. Both are tied before the target curve. From then on, Verstappen still wins 0.018 seconds on the Mercedes with the starting number 77. Or 106 centimeters.
Two Mercedes against a Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton loses his two tenths in turns 2, 6 , 7 and 14. The Englishman did without DRS for the last 200 meters to the finish line. The Mercedes was so high on the curb that the driver needed every gram of downforce to keep the car on the road. “In the third practice session the car was better. It slipped away from me a few times in qualifying. “In view of his problems in free practice, my colleague Bottas was also satisfied with second place. “I'm in the first practice because of thatMotor change not driven at all, in the second only a little. I used the third training session to find my rhythm and not make any mistakes with the setup. I also fine-tuned my qualification. The car was the best in Q3. If you miss the pole that little, you are of course a little disappointed. But it could have been worse. '
Hamilton sees an advantage for Mercedes in the fight against Verstappen. “Valtteri and I can race against Max as a team. This is an advantage. The other Red Bull is too far behind to help Max. “Team principal Wolff admits the advantage, but he already knows that with this constellation in the race there will be tough decisions at the pit wall again. “If you use one of your drivers as bait, then he will be at a disadvantage. Either he pits too late, or he ends up running out of tires. “Mercedes will hardly have a choice against Verstappen in top form. Except one of the Mercedes drivers wins the start. He would have 388 meters of space for this.