We’re finally at the mid-season break and I feel like we need it. The first half of the season has been absolute chaotic brilliance and has been nothing short of drama and excitement, from lights to chequered flag. Hungary was perhaps the icing on this heart-racing cake and produced us with yet another banging race. Hungary is such a hit and miss track; you either have an unreal race or you have one of those watching paint dry races (remember 2020? No didn’t think so). Let’s dive into some of the talking points of the race.
Esteban Ocon race winner
That’s not something you expected to hear in this race review. Esteban Ocon has finally proved he’s worthy of that 3-year contract after driving a stunning race for Alpine, where he put in a dominant display leading after that chaotic crash. He managed to keep a 4-time world champion, who was in the faster car on the day, behind him for the entire race and drove very well to achieve his first win. Vettel applied the pressure all race and it was disappointing that he was disqualified from the race. Unfortunately, a technical infringement is exactly that and it has to be a straight disqualification. It’s not necessarily Vettel’s fault, but unfortunately when something like that happens it has to be a DSQ.
We can’t forget however, what was probably the highlight of the race; the battle of the two great legendary drivers in Hamilton and Alonso. There’s no denying that Alonso played a massive part in that win for Ocon and Alpine, making his Alpine car possibly the widest car on the planet as he fended off Hamilton for 10 laps. Without this, Hamilton would have comfortably won that race.; I mean he caught up so quickly after he finally got past Alonso. It was amazing to see Fernando back to his absolute best, and overall it was an excellent weekend for Alpine.
Hamilton drove another incredible recovery drive to finish 3rd (moved up to 2nd after Seb’s DSQ), after Mercedes made a mistake not pitting Lewis on the restart lap. Mercedes were stuck between a rock and a hard place. They pit and everyone else stays out, they look foolish. They pit and everyone else pits as well, there’s a risk that they might have an unsafe release and definitely wouldn’t be coming out to the front of the grid (due to the position of their pitbox). What ended up happening was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in F1; Lewis being the only driver to restart that race was so funny and at least he got a good getaway!
After his pitstop, Hamilton was dead last, and after a tough first stint on the mediums, he made those hard tyres work and produced another stellar drive. He arguably should have won that race, but it would have felt cruel to deny Ocon his first win, especially in the manner that he won it by.
Bottas goes bowling
We’ve all seen that “nice bowling game” tweet from Leclerc, and it sums up that start perfectly. Bottas had an absolute nightmare at the start of the race, ploughing into the back of Lando Norris, who then took out both Red Bulls. Lando was out. Perez was out. Bottas was out. And Verstappen had some serious damage to the side of his car. Max’s damage was so extensive, that he could only manage to get up to P9 in what would have been one of the fastest cars in that race. I mean he was struggling to get past a Haas, it was that bad (although that battle with Mick was great, well done Mick!!)
Bottas made a little mistake, just braking too late and it definitely wasn’t intentional. But, the consequences of the crash was huge and I can’t image Karen Horner was particularly pleased that Red Bull’s points scoring chances were in the bin after lap 1. At least Bottas has made a good step towards securing his seat for next year; I can imagine Toto was quite pleased their main rivals had been taken out.
And if there weren’t enough crashes, Lance Stroll decided to take out two more people in Leclerc and Danny Ric as well. Leclerc was out with critical damage, and Danny Ric also had major damage to finish in a measly P11. Lance and Bottas got 5-place grid penalties for the next race in Belgium, which was fair on both sides as they did cause quite a bit of commotion. I was concerned that the race was gonna be a bit dry after the main contenders were taken out, but thank you to Mercedes for f*cking up Lewis’ strategy for providing us with a great race
DOUBLE POINTS FINISH FOR WILLIAMS
There is no team that deserved a double points finish more than Williams this weekend. Both drivers had great races and maximised on a chaotic race to score some very valuable points for Williams. George tried a cheeky strategy and could have been leading the race, but the stewards decided what he did was wrong and allowed him to revert back to his original position of P7. At least they just allowed him to give the places back, instead of just giving him a drive through. Admit it tho, you were scared when George started dropping back; I thought FFS this can’t be happening again. Thankfully all was okay and George finished in a nice P8 to score his first points for Williams (finally!!)
Latifi had a great weekend and was going round in P3 after the restart. Latifi actually did the top two drivers a massive favour, as he created a huge gap between them and the other drivers and helped them to drive off into the sunset. After the pitstops, Latifi drove a great race to bring home his first points in F1, finishing in P7 to get 6 points. That means Williams leapfrogs to P8 in the constructors, with a very important 10 points in the bag. Can we also appreciate that team radio from George saying he’ll do anything to make sure Latifi gets his points for the team. Someone was chopping onions then.
We’re heading into the summer break in a tantalising position. Lewis is 8 points ahead of Max and Mercedes are 12 points ahead of their main rivals Red Bull. But, with Red Bull seemingly throwing everything at this championship and Mercedes focusing more on 2022, Red Bull could have the faster car for the second half of the season. However, Lewis is normally a different beast in the second half of the season so let’s see what the 7-time world champion will produce. Max is in unknown territory, can he keep his cool and survive the mind games? If anyone can, Max can.
We’ve got an exciting second half of the season ahead of us, and if all goes as planned we’ll have 12 more races to savour. I can’t see F1 going to all of them, but let’s hope they can return to Suzuka, Interlagos and COTA as they really are some goat tracks. Whatever happens, we’ve got the conclusion of this epic season to come, and I am once again buzzing for it.