It’s the last race before the summer break and it’s also my least favourite race in the F1 video game. The first four turns are fine, but then I get to the second sector and there’s too many turns and a whole lot of seconds are lost. I just can’t master it. I can’t even tolerate it. I’ve been trying for over a decade. It’s impossible. I don’t like it.
Anyway, this isn’t about me. This is about the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix.
There were 70 laps around the Hungaroring. This is what happened.
1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
3. George Russell – Mercedes
4. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
5. Sergio Perez – Red Bull
6. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
7. Lando Norris – McLaren
8. Fernando Alonso – Alpine
9. Esteban Ocon – Alpine
10. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
11. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin
12. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
13. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo
14. Mick Schumacher – Haas
15. Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
16. Kevin Magnussen – Haas
17. Alex Albon – Williams
18. Nicholas Latifi – Williams
19. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
20. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
One of the biggest tropes that is developing in Formula 1 is the report of, “rain in 10 ten minutes”. Feel free to insert any other measure of time in that phrase.
We all know how much rain can impact a race, so when there is a chance that the skies may open up, everyone gets up and does a rain dance. Or something. The F1 version of a rain dance is the camera shots of the weather radar on a team’s screen.
On Lap 38, Lando Norris said the track was slippery. Slippery when wet! We’ve all seen the sign.
One camera, positioned around the track, had water droplets on the lens. WATER DROPLETS. Oh my God, okay, it’s happening!
But wait! On Lap 46 there are light drizzles. DRIZZLES! LIGHT ONES!
Surely, this is the storm we have been waiting for. Tell the pit crews to get the intermediate tyres ready!
But wait! On Lap 67, Fernando Alonso is told over the radio that they are expecting rain on the last lap. Come on. That’s like getting to a party three hours after it started and someone telling you, “there’s still food left.”
Yeah, there is food left. It’s the veggie tray. And by now, some carrots have fallen into the dip. It’s fine, you weren’t going to dip anyways, but it makes an already unappealing situation look that much more unappealing. You grab four chips and a cold meatball instead.
Rain on the last lap of the race is not going to do anything. There was a virtual safety car with two laps left and one of the commentators wondered if a car would come in for intermediates just in case it did rain.
They were selling false drama.
But then it did rain on the last lap. Not enough to do anything, even though they made it sound like the track was going to be submerged within five seconds. But it did rain.
Maybe we should’ve rain danced harder and it would’ve arrived during the race?
2. Ferrari Doesn’t Get It Right, Again
You know how in Home Alone 2, the power goes out overnight, causing the entire house to wake up late the day they are supposed to catch their flight? And the parents wake up and are like, “WE DID IT AGAIN, AHHHHHHH!!!”
Well, that’s Ferrari.
On Lap 31, Charles Leclerc took the lead of the race. Somehow, he coughed it up and finished all the way down in 6th.
On Lap 40, Leclerc came into the pits for his second stop and put on hard tyres. In my mind, I think Ferrari thought that with 30 laps left, Leclerc could go the rest of the way on those tyres.
FYI: He had been on the medium tyre for his first two stints and needed to go onto another compound to appease the regulations.
They were wrong. Not only were they wrong, but there was plenty of evidence from other drivers who attempted the hard tyres, that it would be best to avoid them. Ferrari thought their car could make the tyre work.
It could not.
So, then, 15 laps after putting on hard tyres, Leclerc comes back in to put on soft tyres. Does he have a frequent pit stop card? What are we doing, Ferrari?
At this point, I thought to myself, if they were going to split the last 30 laps into two 15-lap halves, why didn’t they just put soft tyres on on Lap 40, and come back in on Lap 55 and do the same thing? (Assuming they had enough sets of soft tyres).
But then I realized, THEY DID IT AGAIN.
The winning strategy in this race was to have two consecutive stints on the mediums and then one stint on softs. Ferrari didn’t do that with Leclerc because Verstappen pitted on Lap 38 and they, seemingly, got scared so they brought Leclerc in on the next lap, even though he should’ve gone another 10 laps on the medium.
Essentially, Red Bull baited Ferrari into doing something they didn’t need to do.
Sainz, Leclerc’s teammate, went 30 laps on his second stint of medium tyres. Leclerc only went 18. Leclerc’s second stop should’ve been his final stop, but there were 30 laps left and that would’ve been too long for the softs. And because they needed a different compound, they went with the hard tyre.
Get all that? It’s a lot to digest.
Point being: Ferrari messed up when it came to strategy, once again. Red Bull and Mercedes have been in the thick of strategy battles for years and it feels like they are running circles around a Ferrari team that hasn’t had to make these win-or-lose decisions in a while.
The worst thing is, Ferrari seems to be in denial about the whole thing. They think they are okay.
The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, August 28.
Is it a forgone conclusion that Verstappen will be World Champion? Will Ferrari get better at their in-race strategy in the second half of the season?