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Bottas' time up at Mercedes? - What we learned from the Hungarian Grand Prix

Bottas' time up at Mercedes? - What we learned from the Hungarian Grand Prix

F1 News

Bottas' time up at Mercedes? - What we learned from the Hungarian Grand Prix

Bottas' time up at Mercedes? - What we learned from the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungarian Grand Prix was one of those races that demonstrates exactly why F1 is so incredible.

There was drama, intrigue, a shock winner and racing up and down the field as the Hungaroring again provided a modern classic despite the belief it is a karting circuit that resembles 'Monaco without the walls'.

Esteban Ocon took advantage of a crazy start to the race to take his maiden grand prix victory whilst behind him, the championship battle suffered huge ramifications.

So without further ado, here are five things we learned ahead of the summer break.

Alpine means business

There may have been some fortune as to how Ocon took the lead of the race but take nothing away from the Frenchman's drive.

After assuming top spot when Lewis Hamilton pitted to atone for what seemed to be a strategic error by Mercedes, Ocon and challenger Sebastian Vettel took off into the distance from the rest of the pack.

At one stage it seemed Carlos Sainz would challenge, yet the Ferrari simply had no answer for Ocon on the hard tyres at the end of the race given the supreme pace being shown out front.

Despite relentless pressure from a reinvigorated four-time champion in Vettel, Ocon never broke a sweat to take his first win in the sport as his perfect performance underlined the stardom once seen by Mercedes.

Hamilton even congratulated Ocon and hailed the "shining star" for his win. With a new era of F1 arriving next year, it is hard to argue against this being the first of many for Ocon.

A special mention must go to Fernando Alonso, whose defence against Hamilton contributed to Ocon's victory. The racecraft on show from the 40-year-old again proved he still has what it takes.

Bottas' error the final nail in Mercedes decision?

Every now and then a photograph is taken that will become iconic when paired with the narrative underneath it. Think Alonso post-Brazil 2012 and that long gaze into space after losing the title to Vettel, or Ayrton Senna on the podium at his home event after an exhausting race, struggling to hold aloft the Brazilian flag.

Unfortunately for Valtteri Bottas, there is no triumphant background to the picture of him looking down at the ground on the tyre barrier following his mistake that triggered the first lap meleé.

A poor start off the grid saw Max Verstappen and Lando Norris sprint ahead and a misjudgement in the braking zone took out the McLaren and Sergio Perez whilst damaging the Dutchman's car.

With Mercedes already indicating a decision will be made between Bottas and George Russell over the summer break, Hungary was the last audition - if he needed one - for the Finn to prove to Toto Wolff he should be retained.

The comedy of errors at the start, however, may well be the tipping point for the Mercedes hierarchy and one wonders if Bottas knew that when perched on the tyre stack.

It should be mentioned that Wolff insisted post-race that the incident wouldn't influence any decision but he would say that, wouldn't he?

Russell ready for 2022 support role

On the flip side, George Russell had a superb race, providing further hints he is ready for the step up.

The Williams points curse was finally broken with a double-top 10 finish in Budapest and whilst Nicholas Latifi finished ahead of the Briton, parts of his performance would look good on the potential suitors at Mercedes.

Touching on Latifi briefly, it was a well-deserved points finish for the Canadian given his efforts alongside Russell to rebuild the team.

He often sneaks under the radar on race day but after three 11th-place finishes last season it was about time he was rewarded.

But as much as Bottas' mistake could be crucial, Russell's level-headedness and teamwork displayed on Sunday will no doubt come to his aid.

With Latifi at one stage in third after the first lap shenanigans and Russell in seventh, a radio message from the Mercedes junior insisted the team should sacrifice him if it meant Latifi could clinch the team's first points since 2019.

In the end, the pair were able to bring home 10 points between them but with Russell's pace already a known quantity, the unflappable unselfishness to help his team would have ticked a box on Mr Wolff's list of qualities needed from a driver.

Hamilton-Verstappen battle to go down to the wire

It wasn't so long ago it seemed Red Bull and Verstappen had one hand on the championships given the dominance displayed during a five-race winning streak.

A nightmarish end to the first half of the season has threatened to derail the Dutchman's bid for the title as a 33-point lead over Hamilton just two races ago has evaporated into an eight-point deficit - pending Aston Martin's decision on whether to formally appeal Vettel's disqualification.

As Verstappen stated in the media pen after finishing ninth, he was "again taken out by a Mercedes", a not-so-discreet nod to the incidents that have ruined his races in Silverstone and Hungary.

There is a narrative beginning to ride underneath the championship battle between Verstappen and Hamilton, one that looks set to continue until Abu Dhabi despite once appearing a near foregone conclusion.

FIA with a list of areas to tighten up

Amongst the decisions that have been made this year, the FIA may need to take a look at some of the procedures that took place in Hungary.

First of all there was THAT race restart which saw a drag race to turn one between Lewis Hamilton and Alan van der Merwe in the medical car as every other car sat in the pits on a set of new tyres.

It was extraordinarily revealed by Michael Masi post-race that the procedure would have been the same had Hamilton been in the pit lane, with the start lights ignited once all drivers were queuing at the end of the pits.

As funny as it was, it does verge on becoming slightly farcical should every car start from the pit lane with a medical car lined up on the starting grid with five red lights.

The other procedure that has to be looked at is the reprimand for four drivers for failing to remove their WeRaceAsOne shirts for the pre-race national anthem.

The out-of-competition reprimand has no significant effect for now but could result in competition penalties if enough are accumulated.

F1 is supposed to be backing the push for diversity and slapping a driver on the wrist with a public investigation for not following procedure when leaving the shirt on for an extra few minutes leaves a bad taste.

It is understandable the sport wants to separate politics from the competition but has politics ever been separate? You either support a cause or you don't.

You cannot pick and choose when a driver can support LGBTQ+ rights, the fight against racism, or any other noble cause.

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