Alexander Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Can Red Bull make a race of it? Five Hungarian GP talking points

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Mercedes romped away with the Austrian Grand Prix, but expect to face a stronger challenge from Red Bull this weekend. Here are the Hungarian Grand Prix talking points.

Mercedes think Red Bull will be strong

Red Bull looked capable of taking the fight to Mercedes in the warm conditions of round one while the black cars grappled with gearbox problems. However in cooler temperatures of last weekend’s race, with reliability fixes in place, Mercedes were simply too quick for them.

Will a change of venue to the tighter, slower, less power-sensitive Hungaroring work in Red Bull’s favour? It’s six years since they last won at this track, though Max Verstappen took pole position for the race 12 months ago and made Hamilton work hard for his win.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says what he’s seen of the performance differences between their cars leads him to expect Red Bull will be breathing down their necks at the Hungaroring.

“I think where we lost to Red Bull is the slow speed,” he said in Austria. “Particularly turns three and four. These seem to be our vulnerabilities.

“Everywhere else, on the straights and in the fast corners, we are quicker. So we just need to continue to develop and push and understand the car. Budapest is a totally different ball game. Lots of downforce, lots of these slower and medium-speed corners. We’ll see how it works there.”

Wolff is “100% confident” Red bull will be “very strong” this weekend. “It’s a track that, historically, they have shown great performance at. We have improved there too in the last few years but it was always a difficult weekend.

“Hot temperatures are maybe still a little bit of an Achilles heel for us and as far as I’ve seen on our weather to forecast it could be up to 30 degrees on Sunday. Again we need to prepare well with all the focus on Budapest and then hopefully to the best.”

Red Bull think think Red Bull will be strong

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2020
The Hungaroring should suit Red Bull better
It’s not just Mercedes who are wary of the threat from the RB16s in Hungary. Red Bull’s chief of car engineering, Paul Monaghan, is also optimistic about their chances. “I think we have got a good car,” he said.

“It’s a slightly different cornering speed challenges and I think our car if anything, we’ll be better suited to Hungary than we have been here. It’s a fresh challenge.”

Monaghan said he was “enormously” pleased by the gains Red Bull made between the first two races at its home track. “We’ve taken on a huge amount to revise the car,” he said. “Not all of it will be visible.

“Last week we had one of them parked at the side of the road by lap 10 or whatever it was and the other one coughing and spluttering near the end of the race. And this week we’ve run without needing to protect or deal with anything of significance. So that’s enormously satisfying and a great reward to everybody that has helped with that.

“The bodywork updates were extensive. In testing again on Friday all the pieces were there. We were able to get more than two cars’ worth in which is a phenomenal effort from everybody.”

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Ferrari have to make the most of it

The Ferrari pair better leave each other some space
Barring an unexpected and transformational update, the SF1000 is not a championship-winning car. This has dawned quickly on Ferrari, and they know they have to make the most out of what they’ve got.

The pressure on their drivers to avoid a repeat of last year’s disastrous first-lap crash will be huge. The potential upside this weekend is the car’s apparent weaknesses – a shortage of top-end speed and high drag – will hurt it less at the Hungaroring.

Ferrari hasn’t managed to get both cars into Q3 yet this year, but that should be possible this weekend, from where a solid double points finish has to be the goal.

It was also be particularly interesting to keep an eye on the progress of their customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas, whose loss of performance has mirrored that of their engine suppliers so far.

Renault’s big pink protest

It remains to be seen whether the stewards have had enough time in the few days since the last race to consider all the information required to come to a conclusion on Renault’s protest against Racing Point. Particularly considering the added logistical challenges presented by Covid-19.

Assuming Racing Point have to race on with the same brake ducts which were protested on Sunday, whatever they score this week may also come under protest from the yellow team.

Moving the bubble

Paddock, Red Bull Ring, 2020
F1’s Covid-19 restrictions face another test
Formula 1 couldn’t have expected its first two races under its extensively and painstakingly planned Covid-19 restrictions to have gone any better than they did. Over 8,500 tests with not a single positive case is a major achievement which all involved should be proud of.

However, as motorsport managing director Ross Brawn has made clear, they cannot afford to be complacent. Warnings have already been issued to some, notably Charles Leclerc, after pictures of his return to Monaco between races surfaced in social media.

Now the sport faces the challenge of moving the self-contained paddock and its various bubbles of teams and organisational staff. They haven’t had to travel far – after all, Austria and Hungary used to be the same country – but the logistical challenge of avoiding any virus transmission is the great concern.

Hungary presents an added challenge for UK visitors in that they are only permitted to stay within the confines of the track and their accommodation. This has generated some lurid headlines in Britain, but in practical terms it should make little difference for most of those involved.

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Predictions Championship

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Hungarian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Can Red Bull make a race of it? Five Hungarian GP talking points”

  1. Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Hungarian Grand Prix? – Mercedes.

    1. looks like 2019 all over again, with Austria and Hungary being at the start of the championship merc is surely not short on PU unlike last season.

    2. Yeah, we pretty much know the season is over. Bottas or Hamilton will win the WDC, most likely the latter. Only people whose income depend on the sport will keep denying it publicly. On to 2021!

      1. On to 2021!

        2022 please. Chassis & PUs are frozen. Ferrari have designed a chassis tailored on the old PU which was completely redesigned for the 2020 season due to the new directives. In this perspective, it is beyond me how they have agreed the freezing of engines and the chassis for the current two-year period. I’m sorry, but whoever did this must be fired and this is where Ferrari are really losing to Mercedes, politics and not engineering as many of the so called experts tries to convince us everyday. If you are trailing and you agree a freeze on the development so why on earth do you are competing for the world championship unless you want just participating ?

        I’m talking about Ferrari because they are the only team alongside Mercedes who manufactures PU & chassis in house and have a chance to compete against them. While RBR are terrific in designing and developing a F1 car, I have no faith in the power of GP2, sorry Honda fans :) It’s 5 years now and they are still trailing on the engine front.

        1. I think Renault also manufacture the engine and chassis in-house.

          But yeah; unusual politics from Ferrari have essentially locked-in their deficit for 2021.

        2. @tifoso1989 I really don’t see how they had a choice. It only makes complete sense that they use this year’s cars for next year too. Keep in mind that at the time they had to decide this, which was about 3 months ago, they could not have known if they were even going to run any races at all this year. At the same time the teams had already started working on their wholly new cars for 2021 (now 2022). So the development on the new gen cars has been frozen, and now they have freedom to tweek aero on the current cars through this year and next.

          Yeah of course it is unfortunate if that has locked Ferrari (and others) into some poor performances, but at the same time everyone was on the same page for this year, and they couldn’t have foreseen what was to come, and that’s just the way the cookie has crumbled. What was Ferrari to do? Not sign on? Force themselves and everyone else to have to spend tens of millions on 2021 cars when for all they knew at the decision time they may have not even used this year’s cars? And when they are ramping up for 2022 and had already started at their factories that massive change? No, Ferrari did exactly as they all needed to do for the good of the sport overall.

          1. @robbie
            The new PU was designed in a hurry in the winter before the new season testing. So Ferrari must have known that they are on the back foot already.

            No, Ferrari did exactly as they all needed to do for the good of the sport overall.

            As a team manager you should try to defend your team’s interests at all costs. Liberty and the FIA should worry about the sport.

            Look at Mercedes, they opposed as hell the token systems being scrapped in the 2014-2016 period, qualifying races this year and didn’t care about the sport, no hard feelings it was strictly business. The token system for example made the sport a farce we knew no else but Mercedes will be competitive and the teams were paralyzed and couldn’t develop their engines. Thank heaven Nico Rosberg kept us a little entertained by getting under Lewis’s skin.

            Binotto himself was very happy saying that Ferrari let down some their advantages lately for the good of the sport (Budget Cap, Engine Freeze….). That’s exactly what is beyond me to be honest. You have an advantage use it and never get it revoked unless you have another advantages. Like I said in a previous post Ferrari problems are down to the fact that they are very poor on the political side. I think no one would argue that someone like Flavio Briatore could have done a better job than Binotto or whoever responsible for these bad decisions. I know the man has no moral but he is a political beast and that’s what Ferrari need right now.

          2. @tifoso1989 I get your point about teams looking out for number one. But you have ignored my point about revenues and costs under the new reality from Covid-19. Indeed Ferrari are looking out for themselves by not incurring millions upon millions in extra expense that would come from having to work up a whole new car for 2021, when they are changing the cars completely for 2022 and have already started work on those. It would make absolutely no sense for they themselves to spend all this money and force the other teams to do the same, given the unique circumstances that have befallen the world.

            Mercedes opposing the token ban was under BE when there was no impetus to consider the future sustainability of the sport. Liberty, upon taking over, immediately expressed desires for a whole new and healthier direction out of not just desire but necessity. And the teams have all agreed. The qualifying races? Small potatoes in the grand scheme of things and many would debate having those would have harmed the integrity of the sport anyway.

            I think you are taking license in saying Binotto was ‘very happy’ giving up some advantages. I doubt that, and am not sure how you would know that other than it suits your argument to make that claim. Besides, their ‘advantage’ had become an illegal but seemingly unprovable fuel flow concept that was stripped from them, not ‘given away’ by Binotto. The fact that they were allegedly cheating but weren’t stripped of anything but further use of their secret device, and were even able to do a secret deal to keep everything under wraps, to me meant that Binotto probably had run out of cache earlier this year to buck the system and try to get their way further by doing as you would suggest they should have done.

            That Briatore of illegal MS Benettons in the 90’s and of crashgate would be a better political option for Ferrari now in your opinion, is worrying. Yikes is all I can say to that. You must be quite desperate to see Ferrari back at the top at any cost, but this just isn’t the 90’s anymore.

  2. Realistically can Red Bull make a race of it? No, I doubt so. Mercedes has been toying along so far ahead that Lewis had absolutely no problem leaving a comfortable gap at Max while he drove his car to the limit. Even if Red Bull were to find an extra tenth or even two, Mercedes and Lewis in particular would be able to turn it up and keep that gap nice and clean.

    Unrealistically, anything can happen and knowing Max, if he can get ahead, he’ll at least try and make a race out of it as best he can.

    1. Mercedes have been toying along ever since they (and Renault) bullied F1 into these crap engines. They have so much pace in hand that the’ll never be caught, they just release it in small enough amount to just stay ahead. And let everyone think the can be caught. Then spin some BS story about some part that was almost gonna explode, but never does. It’s time for them to leave F1. Yes, i know there have always been dominant teams, but 7 years strait going on 8 (with cars being carried over into 2021) is just getting ridiculous. They’re destroying F1.

      1. PMR
        Looool The pain.

      2. PMR.
        Man that’s so old now. Come on! Why do you blast them for doing the best job of anyone out there like it wasn’t known to other teams what was needed? If it were only the engine, it’s hard to imagine they would have had it easy as this, this team operates at a very high level in terms of operations, technical stuff, managerial stuff, racing strategies etc. I could go on and on how they just set the benchmark not only in F1 in how to run a team but the whole sporting world! Are you to blame them or other teams for not raising to the challenge for the past 7 years?! I think the answer is pretty clear.

        1. So you like no excitement in the championship? I agree they’re doing the best job out there, but enough is enough. people talking about the gap from the big three to the rest, but the gap from RBR/Ferrari to Mercedes is just as big. RBR/Ferrari have 700-800 employees, Mercedes over 1300 for getting two cars to the track. Of course they’re gonna come out on top.
          And yes i blame them for being dominant, they (together with Renault) bullied F1 into this hybrid crap. They threatened to leave F1 if F1 didn’t switch to this hybrid crap, an engine which they were developing 2 year before talks about the new engine formula started. And Ross Brawn helped crafting the new regulations in such a way that the oppsition was never going to catch up. Remeber that dumbass token system?
          Lots classes have performance penalties, F1 needs that too.

      3. Reggie Nald
        17th July 2020, 7:40

        Awwww Diddums no like bad Mercedes!!! 😃

  3. Last years’ race was very telling when it comes to the importance of both RedBulls being on relatively the same pace. If Albon can’t stay with Verstappen, then Max doesn’t stand a chance to fight both Mercs on his own, even if the car is equally fast.

    1. Well, than you already have your answer…

  4. Will Albon manage to get the car under control and stop it from spinning?

  5. Recent data analyses after the Steiermark GP showed Mercedes are leading, they do have around 20BHP more than Honda while Renault is down another ~15 BHP. Same analyses talk about Mercedes (Lewis) finishing with a fuel load of around 10kg, while Max car was close to empty… this means Mercedes still had some potential

  6. Honestly if Red Bull doesn’t score a 1-2 then i am afraid the season is already over as i then see no way how Red Bull is going to overtake Mercedes if Red Bull win the last GP’s again.

    1. And you can rest assured they won’t get a 1-2, so season is over, not so surprising actually given what we knew about ferrari before coronavirus.

      I think the best that can happen to give some different race is a verstappen win, but it’s not gonna be easy, and it’s only possible if red bull is actually UP THERE with mercedes in car performance that race, and even if it is, albon isn’t.

  7. Mercedes this year could potentially win all races. Especially if it’s a short season.

    Ferrari are hobbled, RedBull are second fastest by a wide margin.

    If RedBull does not win Hungary it’s all over, this is the ideal track, if someone wants to claim they have a great aero-chassis package, this is the place to do it.

    I’m waiting to see how it goes, but not really expecting anything but Mercedes win.

    1. It was clearly visible at RB that they missed the ball again for the sixt or seventh year in a row. They know it, it was visible in their eyes. I would consider letting Newey go. His (great) reputation exists only in history books but does not materialise anymore on track…bit like Vettels

      1. The last thing they should do is let genius Newey go. With him on board they have a great chance of developing themselves aerodynamically into a more competitive package as the races go along.

        Their problem has not been Newey…he’s likely been their saviour from doing way worse. Their problem in the hybrid era has been in the pu department, and it hasn’t helped that they are not a works team. So up until last year they suffered from underperforming Renault PUs as has been well documented. Now they sit with only one full season behind them with Honda and so they deserve time to continue to develop and make gains. It is only the start of their second season with the RBR/Honda marriage. Let’s give them some respectful time as such a new relationship. And they did amazingly well imho last year, in year one with Honda, when many thought the Honda’s would be way worse…yet they made great strides ahead of the 2019 season start. Much more to come from them I say. And now they are a bit more like a works team.

  8. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    16th July 2020, 8:44

    Early predictions show 56% chance of rain on sunday…hope it stays this way!

    1. @asleepatthewheel Don’t do that, don’t give me hope.

    2. Ooops, if you are hoping for an upset doesn’t Mercedes have the Rainmeister?

      1. At the very least there’s more chance of chaos at the race, which is always nice.

        (hopefully the no injury or death chaos though)

    3. Another way to put it is that there’s a 44% chance it will not rain.

      1. 44? Hmmm…what’s the significance of this number?

  9. The reliability of the Mercs the management of the team and the performance of the drivers gives Merc overall dominance. Unless Merc have some type of failure RB are fighting for 3rd against the pink Merc of Perez or the McLarens.

    1. Yes, that is pretty much the season summed up. Liberty had got some severe issues to solve

      1. Solve some issues; like imposing a spending cap to level the playing field?

        1. F1 Codger I was initially against the spending cap but I stood back had a think. Innovation is driven by the need to improve not money. The best engineers find ways to get things done history has shown that.
          What does kill innovation are draconian rules or the constant changing of rules under the guise of bringing in a level playing field.

    2. I think Max will have something to say about fighting for third, as in, I think he’ll best Bottas and take second in the WDC, and RBR will be second in the WCC.

      1. It’s certainly in the cards, if bottas ends up being a slow hamilton, will have to see about reliability ofc.

        If bottas challenges hamilton till the last race for the wdc I don’t think verstappen can beat him, since mercedes car is stronger.

        1. @esploratore For sure one would think that VB should be challenging LH and the two of them shutting out everyone else, ala LH and Rosberg, yet VB has yet to challenge LH anywhere near like Nico did, so for me the odds are Max/Newey/RBR will out-develop/out-drive VB/Mercedes again throughout the season.

          Of course it is possible that the Mercs might remain out of reach and Max’s hands might be tied to do much about it, but at a minimum I don’t think VB has shown whatsoever that he can or will sustain a fight against LH over a season. So to me that puts VB within Max’s grasp, at least on paper anyway.

  10. Red Bull think think Red Bull will be strong

    Did @keithcollantine have a stroke?

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