Impossible not to feel the wind of the Mercedes cannonball coming. Sunday at the Hungaroring, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell continued the “recovery” operation of the Silver Arrows by taking second and third places in the Hungarian Grand Prix, respectively 7″834 and 12″337 behind winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull). Without having a boost from the safety car like in France, but, it’s true, with an advantage on the grid compared to the Dutchman, who started 10th.
Impossible to deny this soaring rise of the Grays. Even if they have not yet won, they finally opened the firm’s record at Etoile with a pole position on Saturday, and a second consecutive double podium. With a total of six podiums for Hamilton, including five in a row, and five for Russell, Toto Wolff’s side have moved on from their status as lone underdogs – far behind Red Bull and Ferrari and far ahead of the rest – and have taken on the toothy challenger costume. To the point of no longer wondering if she will win, but when.
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Qualified seventh due to a removable front wing failure – the DRS – on Saturday, LH44 gained two places at the start, on the back of the Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, and finished strong in “soft” rubber, thanks to to a second stint on “medium” tires much better than the first, and a second staggered stop. Then, again, he let his racing intelligence speak. Twice warned for exceeding the limit after lap 40, he overtook Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) for P3 on lap 63, then his teammate for P2 a loop later.
The few drops of rain that occurred in the last laps gave him hope for an end of the race with twists and turns. But the abandonment of Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) froze the gaps in the peloton (virtual safety car). When the cars were free to accelerate again, it was too late to threaten Max Verstappen. “I was hoping it was going to rain at the end so I could challenge Max, but we missed some laps.”
A confidence boost
“I was really struggling at the start of the race and I wasn’t sure I could catch up with the guys.he explained on arrival. But little by little, I became more comfortable with the balance. I had a very good start too. I really want to thank my team who pushed hard and never gave up in this difficult year. To have both cars on the podium twice (after Le Castellet) is quite special for us.”
Finally, this 9th record victory at the Hungararing may have escaped him the day before. “If we had had better qualifying, if the DRS had been good, we would have been in the running for the win.he recalled. But with two second places in a row, I’m really, really happy. A big thank you to the fans, thank you for your support, have an amazing summer, be blessed.”
“Lewis’ fight was amazingBudapest continues to be a success story for him, congratulated Toto Wolff, his boss. He came out of nowhere and was faster than everyone else. I think we lost the race with him yesterday with the failure of the DRS. Otherwise, we could have fought in front for the victory.”
For the future, the current world No. 6 expressed a certain optimism. “The other guys are still a bit ahead but we’re clearly closing the gap and it’s an amazing way to go into the break knowing we have this performance. Hopefully we can bring more in the second part of the season and start fighting with the guys in front”he said.
Mercedes at the pace of Red Bull for five Grands Prix
For his part, George Russell did not convert his first pole into victory, but he led 24 laps and has nothing to reproach himself for. Unfortunately, he never had the right rubbers. His “soft” were perfect for the start under the drizzle, but the “medium” then took over. It was the opposite in the last laps: in “medium”, he could not react to Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton, in “soft”. “When it started to drizzle and we were on the ‘soft’ tires at the start and everyone was on ‘medium’, I thought we were off to a good start.entrusted the world No. 4 to Sky Sports. After four laps, I had a three-second lead. Unfortunately, the rain has stopped. Towards the end, on the ‘medium’ with the rain a bit heavier, I really struggled. It’s an incredible job from the team. Pole position and a double podium: we are really making progress, so I’m really proud of the work done.”
For five races, Mercedes has unquestionably risen to the level of the best, if we consider performance as a combination of speed and reliability. Since Montreal, the Brackley team has scored 135 points against 139 at Red Bull and 120 at Ferrari.
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