Red Bull Strategy Wins Again

Red Bull Strategy Wins Again

The Hungarian Grand Prix podium results are an exact repeat of last week’s French Grand Prix. Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell stood together once again as first, second and third. This is the 51st time Verstappen and Hamilton have been on the podium together. Mercedes is starting to hit their stride at the right time as we head into the summer break. George Russell started on pole and led 30 laps of the race this week. While Mercedes executed excellent strategy calls, Hamilton drove his way from seventh to second. In doing so, he showed that he is still the top driver for Mercedes as he overtook his teammate on lap 65 by tricking Russell into believing he was going left, while Hamilton slipped by him on the right. Mercedes is on the rise while Ferrari appears to be on the decline.

Charles Leclerc had great race pace on Sunday’s race. During lap 31 he overtook Russell for first place and started to build a lead. When Verstappen pitted on lap 39, Ferrari ordered Leclerc in for hard tires the very next lap. The call is a head scratcher. First, Alpine suffered mightily when they changed to the hard tire. Both of their cars fell out of the top ten until the closing laps of the race. Haas also experienced significant issues with the hard tire. The weather was too cool to run the hard tire; a lesson Alpine and Haas learned the hard way. Second, Leclerc was building a lead and reported no issues with his tires. Ferrari should have allowed Leclerc to put another 15 laps on the current tire before a change. According to race rules they must use two different compounds during the race. If the current tire is working, extend the life to move to the soft later in the race, rather than hoping the hard tire will work out for you. The analytics were already in, and Ferrari failed to adjust. Instead, they reacted to fear as opposed to logic.

Ferrari’s issue is threefold. First, they don’t run rehearsals on common scenarios. That is what practice is for. That is what meetings are for. Ferrari very clearly does not think complex issues thru before hitting the track. Second, Ferrari is terrible in the moment. They react poorly to rapidly changing conditions. Lastly, they are too concerned about their image. Winning always takes care of itself if you do the right things to get there. Worrying about what everyone else thinks of you takes your focus away from the cold logic required to execute a winning race strategy. Neither Charles Leclerc nor Carlos Sainz appreciate being muzzled by the team. Still, when you listen to them, there are hints of displeasure. Sainz commented on his lack of pace and slow pitstops. Leclerc was a bit more forceful in his interview as he reported he expressed to the team he was comfortable with his tires when he was ordered to pit on lap 40.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull once again proved why they are head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Verstappen and Sergio Perez qualified 10th and 11th respectfully. As the race unfolded, Verstappen steadily worked his way thru the field. Red Bull’s strategy to box at lap 39 caused Ferrari to react as Red Bull no doubt predicted. The smart teams pay attention to each other. They know what tires are left. They know what issues the other teams have with their cars. Red Bull made a call and Ferrari reacted poorly. Still, Verstappen had to finish the race, and finish he did. He overtook Leclerc on lap 41 and then spun out a few turns later. Apparently, the car was having issues with the clutch and while Verstappen was making adjustments, he spun the car out. Still, the spin had little effect on Verstappen. He remained cool and drove his race…all the way to victory. This is his 28th victory. He currently holds an 80-point lead on Charles Leclerc, while Red Bull holds a 97-point lead on Ferrari in the Constructors Championship. Perez continues to produce as he improved his 11th place start to a fifth-place finish on Sunday. His consistency helps keep Red Bull out front. Mercedes is only 30 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors Championship. Ferrari needs to do some significant self-assessment during the summer break or Mercedes will overtake them.

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