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Catching Up With Formula One: Hungary

Written by Sofia Costantino, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Are you ready to dive into the high-speed world of Formula One? Whether you're a seasoned fan or a newcomer to the sport, there's never been a better time to catch up with everything happening on track this year.

This article has got you covered, from the latest race results and driver standings to the biggest shocks and controversies. So buckle up, and get ready to experience the thrill of the race like never before!

This weekend sees the XXXVIII Hungarian Grand Prix, the eleventh round of the 2023 Formula One season, take place

. With the next round at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, the first half of the season ends, to start the summer holidays. The drivers and teams will return a month later to the Netherlands, on 27 August.

The narrative for this race is not centred as much around Red Bull and Max Verstappen this weekend though, rather, the hype is around Daniel Ricciardo, and how he will look to go about his second debut in the top category of world motorsport.

Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, Red Bull 2023. Credits: Erik Junius, Motorsport Images.

Charming, funny and carrying an ever-lasting smile, the Australian driver replaced Dutchman Nyck De Vries in Alpha Tauri, who was fired from the Red Bull subsidiary team with just 10 Grands-prix to his name.

Although, it is a notorious and frequent case down at the Red Bull stable, to exchange and dismiss a campaign at any time, according to the performance. More than a problem for de Vries, the reason behind his firing is speculated to be Alpha Tauri looking for a good replacement for Sergio Pérez for 2024, if he does not soon come out of the rough patch he is going through.

Ricciardo, initially with Toro Rosso in 2012 and 2013, moved to Red Bull in 2014, and was the only winner apart from Mercedes at the start of the turbo-hybrid era, with wins in Canada, Hungary and Belgium. Despite four more wins (Malaysia 2016, Azerbaijan 2017, and at China and Monaco in 2018), he decided to switch teams in 2019, after the energy drink team decided to focus primarily on Verstappen. In two seasons with Renault, and a further two for McLaren, he did not find what he was looking for (despite an unexpected win at Monza in 2021), and gradually his undeniable talent was wasted due to lack of motivation and results.

Despite a contract until the end of 2023, his lousy campaign in 2022, on average 0.3 seconds slower per lap than his teammate Lando Norris, led to the Woking team swapping Ricciardo for his compatriot, rookie Oscar Piastri.

Determined to take a year out of the series, and think about his future and a possible return, should he be motivated, he was brought back by the organisation for which he worked for seven years, testing on the simulator, and as a commercial ambassador for the brand. Precisely, doing simulations, it was that Christian Horner identified his problems, due to a series of vices by driving practically unmanageable vehicles.

However, the recovery was more than obvious when he was given the opportunity to do the 2024 tyre test in the RB19, after the British GP at Silverstone. Despite eight months without running, his times immediately were almost the same as those of the starters, and he will now have 12 races to prove his worth for the position of Sergio Pérez (in case he does not wake up from his lethargy).

The main problem for the Australian is the single-seater with which he will try to re-emerge. Although it has the same power unit as the RB19, the AT04 is very difficult to drive, mostly due to the instability at the rear end, when entering corners while braking. This is precisely against Ricciardo's specialty, who uses a very late braking to overtake. No doubt, all eyes and cameras will be on the watch of Perth's native West Australian.

Credit - Motorsport Images

De Vries becomes one more of the drivers to fall victim to the lack of patience of the “advisor” Helmut Marko (the dangerous bull), who doesn’t hesitate to sign replacements at Red Bull, Toro Rosso, and now Alpha Tauri, out of time. However, there is no denying that he has done his job as a scout like none other. The former F1 driver and junior category leader, the late Dietrich Mateschitz convinced him to advance to not only produce single-seaters, but also drivers for the highest category.

Two examples suffice to justify the constant search for talents even as stones, who can end up as jewels. In Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, they have brought almost seven championships, to match what Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton have achieved. Those who have worked for him are very eloquent: you must always go to the limit, and do not accept mistakes, especially if they are repeated.

Several have passed through that sieve, such as Scott Speed, replaced by Vettel in 2007; Sebastien Bourdais in 2009 by the 4th Champ Car champion Sebastien Buemi, who was rookie of the year 2009; Jean-Eric Vergne, champion of Formula E in 2018 and 2019; Brendon Hartley - WEC Champion in 2015, 2017 and 2020; Pierre Gasly, despite winning later at Monza 2020. Red Bull also loaned Alex Albon to Williams, and not to mention Daniil Kvyat, who went up and down more than once between both sets, notoriously in 2016 to make room for Verstappen, who won in his first race with the bigger team.

But now, let’s talk about everything that happened in the last race to prepare for this weekend ahead!

Max Verstappen scored his eighth win of the season, and sixth in a row at Silverstone, consolidating his lead in a dominant campaign, matching what Britain's Nigel Mansell achieved in 1992, the Briton also winning eight of the first 10 races with the outstanding Williams FW14B.

Credit - Motorsport Images

The Dutchman also claimed for his Red Bull team the eleventh consecutive win (10 this season and the 2022 final in Abu Dhabi), to match the legendary McLaren record in 1988 with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

It was the Woking-based team that livened up the British party, Lando Norris netting a spot on the front row of the grid, and his team-mate Oscar Piastri in third, with Norris later finishing runner-up to Verstappen, delighting the home crowd. A massive 480,000 fans visited the cradle of the world championship over the weekend.

McLaren had announced its upward progress in the Austrian GP, with Norris finishing fourth in Sunday's race. This time, he even led the first four laps, having a better start than Verstappen from pole, followed the Dutchman's pace and finished just 3.7sec behind the two-time world champion. His team-mate, who benefitted from the MCL60’s upgrades tested by Norris at Spielberg, lost a podium, changing tyres a few laps before the start of the Safety Car period that gave Lewis Hamilton the benefit of a less time-consuming pit stop.

It was a great celebration for the McLaren team, who climbed to the podium at home for the first time in 13 years (Lewis Hamilton 2nd in 2010), thanks to the hard work of the team, now led by Italian Andrea Stella, and the major changes introduced to the car, mainly modifying the front wing and rear suspension, giving it more grip force (downforce) without exaggerating the drag, a weak point of their counterparts at Mercedes and Aston Martin, in which the increased grip gives them too much resistance, and therefore less top speed.

The low temperature and low degradation of the hardest compound tyres brought by Pirelli to the Northamptonshire circuit favoured McLaren, despite Silverstone historically famous for its high thermal degradation, and its known dramatic failures in the past.

Credit - Motorsport Images

The good preparation of their respective cars, led Norris not only to have a good pace, but to fight successfully against Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, who despite having new soft tires in his W14, could not overtake Norris despite being on used hard tires (allegedly two seconds slower per lap), while Oscar Piastri was ahead of George Russell in the other Mercedes, Sergio Pérez's Red Bull, and Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin.

The other pleasant surprise for the local spectators was the competitive performance of the Williams/Mercedes of the London-born Thai Alexander Albon, who finished eighth, ahead of both Ferraris, a team that had shown signs of apparent progress in the Red Bull Ring as second force, but now ended a poor performance in the last two places of the points standings. An eternal up and down of the Alpine team, this time again with strategies too conservative, pitting early to change tires, not for poor performance, but for the data of Friday with the temperature of the track much higher.

While Max Verstappen is expected to be champion if he keeps the winning streak, he could also catch up with Sebastian Vettel, who scored 9 consecutive wins with RB9 in 2013, at his home race in Zandvoort later this year.


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