Oh expensive. We’ve been right here earlier than, have not we? Lewis Hamilton’s 90th profession pole place was one other milestone in a outstanding profession, but all of it felt a bit like déjà vu.
Here’s the principle speaking factors from qualifying for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes period in a nutshell
This was a outcome which appeared to completely sum up the trendy period of Formula One and simply how dominant Mercedes has been. Not solely had been the world champions comfortably first and second, but the Racing Point — dubbed the “pink Mercedes” for its hanging likeness to final yr’s title-winning automobile — completed third and fourth.
While it is good to see a brand new crew up in podium rivalry (see extra on the Racing Point under), it was a deflating session to observe.
Only two automobiles had been inside a second of Lewis Hamilton’s pole time. One was Valtteri Bottas within the different Mercedes, the opposite was Lance Stroll, 0.9 seconds off the tempo. In F1 phrases one second over a single qualifying lap is huge and suggests the world champions’ 2020 automobile is on one other degree to the remaining.
Most deflating of all was Red Bull. It was hoped they might be nearer to Mercedes right here — if not in qualifying, then at the very least able to assault on Sunday, but the crew is clearly on the again foot. Worse nonetheless, Mercedes and Racing Point comfortably outpaced the remaining and will each begin on the medium tyre, not the comfortable, which appears to be the best race technique for Sunday afternoon.
We would possibly get a wild race if the rain arrives in time for Sunday’s race, but even then this Mercedes crew is going to be fairly troublesome to beat at most venues this season.
Sorry to be a party-pooper, but the 2020 season may very well be a protracted previous slog for anybody not supporting the Mercedes crew.
More scrutiny for the copycat
We’ve develop into so used to seeing Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari on the entrance of the grid that the sight of two pink automobiles on the second row will come as a little bit of a shock on Sunday. However, it is one thing that we’ll little question get used to this yr because the Racing Point has emerged from the early races as a transparent front-runner in 2020.
While it is clear that Red Bull underperformed on Saturday in Hungary, the Racing Point is a genuinely quick race automobile. It’s similarities to final yr’s Mercedes haven’t gone unnoticed and are undoubtedly the important thing to its success, opening up a wider philosophical speaking level in F1. If it is doable to repeat the quickest automobile on the grid and get outcomes, why is not everybody doing it?
Racing Point hasn’t denied it based mostly the RP20 on images from final yr’s Mercedes W10, but insists it will possibly show it has designed the automobile itself. That proof shall be put to the check at an upcoming stewards listening to over the legality of its brake ducts, which rivals Renault have pinpointed as trying remarkably just like Mercedes’ 2019 design.
Until that matter is resolved, an air of suspicion will hold over outcomes akin to immediately’s. Racing Point insists this is the automobile it wished to construct for a number of years but did not have the funds to take action, but if it proves to frequently outpace Red Bulls and Ferraris it’s going to throw into query what it means to be a constructor in F1.
All groups control one another to some extent, but only a few have been so clearly just like a rival within the sport’s historical past. The guidelines for the following two years (a chassis freeze in 2021 and an entire change in 2022) will rule out another crew so overtly copying a rival, so if Racing Point has discovered a key to success it’s going to reap the rewards for the following two seasons at the very least.
Russell’s star retains rising
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are already established as stars of the longer term, but it looks more and more like they will not be alone.
Lando Norris turned heads within the opening two races with standout performances on the Red Bull Ring, but George Russell is additionally rising as an distinctive expertise. For anybody who has adopted his junior profession that may come as no shock, but it was simple to miss his performances in a dismal Williams final yr.
Armed with a semi-competitive midfield automobile in 2020, nevertheless, and it is changing into more and more onerous to disregard him. For the second weekend in a row he has certified 12th, exhibiting a capability to outperform his equipment in each moist and dry. His onerous work got here to nothing in Austria when he ended up within the gravel early within the race final weekend, but on Sunday he could have one other likelihood to show his racecraft.
At the beginning of the weekend he confirmed he’ll stay at Williams subsequent yr, regardless of being on a Mercedes younger driver contract. But if he continues to carry out on this degree, he’ll put himself within the body for a Mercedes drive in 2022.
Russell defends out-of-form Albon
After excelling on observe, Russell additionally launched a passionate defence of his good friend Alex Albon, who struggled once more for Red Bull. Albon’s type has taken on a worrying pattern since his heartbreaking retirement on the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Thai driver was a good distance off Verstappen’s tempo on the Styrian Grand Prix and he was eradicated from Q2 on Saturday, ending behind Russell.
Russell hinted that Albon is not being given the instruments he wants to point out his true expertise.
“I’ve known Alex for the last 15 years, being in the same paddock as him,” Russell informed Sky Sports shortly after the session. He’s among the finest drivers we have all raced — Max, Charles [Leclerc], all of us will say it.
“He’s always been at the front in everything he’s done and I don’t know what the hell is going on. I feel really bad for him as he’s being made to look like an idiot and he’s absolutely not. He’s won in everything he’s done so I don’t know what’s going on, but they need to sort it out for him.”
Albon sounded pissed off with Red Bull after his Q2 elimination, with a broadcast radio message about being launched into site visitors. He later mentioned this had affected his preparations for the ultimate timed lap in Q2, though he refused to make excuses for the outcome.
“I’m not happy with my qualifying performance,” he mentioned. “I feel like my run one wasn’t ideal, then I definitely made a few mistakes. We definitely would have been in Q3 if it wasn’t that.
“Still, it isn’t a prime 5 like we needs to be. It’s tough to drive when the automobile is not doing what you need it to do.”
The Thai driver looked pretty downbeat on his Zoom media session and it was hard not to think of Pierre Gasly’s demeanour in his media sessions while at Red Bull last year. Gasly was never able to shake that spell of bad form – we all know what happened next, with Gasly demoted and Albon promoted at the summer break — and with this year’s races coming thick and fast over the next two months, with eight over the next 10 weeks, Albon will have to be careful he doesn’t get stuck in a similar funk.
Stroll on form
Lance Stroll is quite an easy target for criticism, and he gets his fair share of it, so its worth giving him credit when it is due. The Canadian driver delivered on Racing Point’s pace to qualify third position.
It’s not a position Racing Point has been accustomed to qualifying in recent years, perhaps best shown by Stroll appearing to forget he was allowed to park his car by the number three board in parc ferme, rather than in the parking lot-style section behind the top three. Given how good Racing Point has been this year, Stroll might want to brush up on the protocols for a car which has finished in the top three.
Sergio Perez will join him on an all-Racing Point second row, although it was a more complicated session for the Mexican driver.
“I did not really feel 100 % bodily,” he said. “I used to be getting dizzy via qualifying, that is not nice. I must verify with my physio what is happening. Should be OK for tomorrow.
“I managed to get away with a good result, it was very messy, my qualifying still P4 is a good race start for tomorrow.”
The Hungarian Grand is reside on ESPN at 9.05AM Eastern Time on Sunday.
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