SportF1The five key factors of Verstappen's victory in Hungary

The five key factors of Verstappen's victory in Hungary

After having to start from tenth on the grid due to an engine problem that left him without power during Q3, even the most optimistic Red Bull strategy simulations did not place Max Verstappen on the top spot on the podium. Your best prediction? The fifth place.

But in the end, a perfect storm of circumstances, mixing the strengths of the team and the driver with external factors beyond his control, managed to lift him to victory.

These are the five key factors that turned a simply damage-limiting race in the title fight against Ferrari and Charles Leclerc into a knockout blow.

The time of the Hungarian GP 2022 of F1

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, the rest of the field at the start

In the history of Formula 1, it is difficult to find an event that has seen a temperature fluctuation equal to that experienced by the paddock last weekend in Hungary.

From the blistering 34ºC on Friday, which helped Ferrari shine during free practice, the weather changed and the temperature dropped to 21ºC on Sunday, which woke up to clouds that never disappeared and occasional drizzle.

This change in temperature, added to the rain that washed the rubber off the track surface and left a very green track, completely transformed the performance of the cars and the tyres.

The Ferrari, which had been so strong on the hot Friday, struggled to get its tires up to temperature on Sunday, dropping it back down the standings.

On the other hand, the Red Bull revived, especially as it seemed to have a lot of pace on the soft and medium.

Furthermore, as the drivers quickly realized that the hard was not going to be easy to activate and that getting it up to temperature would be tricky, Red Bull opted to move away from its original plan to have Verstappen start on these tyres. They changed to the soft ones and it turned out to be the best option.

On a hotter day, perhaps the Dutchman would have gone out with the hardies and would have had to stick with them for quite a few laps, with the consequence of being stuck in the pack.

However, he had a tire advantage in the early stages which allowed him to go on the attack.

F1’s 2022 regulations favor overtaking

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, George Russell, Mercedes W13, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

The Hungaroring circuit is famous for being, along with Monaco , one of the most difficult circuits to overtake other cars.

In fact, that feature is exactly what Red Bull’s strategy predictions told the team: that, at the very least, Verstappen would spend the first quarter of the race stuck in traffic and losing time to the frontrunners.

However, the world leader already had a certain pace advantage thanks to his soft tires, to which were added the new rules of F1 2022, which played a key role in overtaking, easier than on other occasions.

Instead of getting stuck behind Alpine’s train, Verstappen had passed Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon on lap seven, and soon latched onto Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing.

When the pair passed Lando Norris on lap 12, shortly before the first round of pit stops, Verstappen was already right behind the Mercedes and Ferrari cars, despite suffering from some clutch issues.

Ferrari’s pace and strategy at the 2022 F1 Hungarian GP

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, makes a pit stop

Cold weather on Sunday left Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc having a lot of trouble with their pace, which also contributed to Verstappen’s cause.

The fact that Ferrari went out with the media, on a day when hard was going to be a great tyre, also meant that the team had self -limited in strategy, further hurting their race.

The leading teams only had two sets of mids available, which meant those starting with that compound faced a major headache when the race turned into a two-stop event.

The best way to deal with the problem was to stretch out the two medium stints as long as possible, then switch to do one last run on the soft.

However, Ferrari, thinking his track position was of paramount importance against Verstappen in the title battle, opted to put Leclerc on hard tires a lap after the Dutchman had pitted to receive his second and final set of media.

The difficulties in warming up the hard left Leclerc as an easy target. He moved away from the front of the race and Max Verstappen found the doors wide open to advance.

The patience of Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Verstappen’s triumph in Hungary was not only down to the weather, but Red Bull’s strategy and pace came to life on Sunday. It is important to add that Verstappen’s driving was also of the highest level.

In the past, many of his successes were due to amazing speed, aggressive moves and taking risks.

But Hungary materialized the perfect example of a much more mature Verstappen, who is able to mix the strengths just mentioned with playing the long haul.

Verstappen’s start was perhaps one of the most cautious we’ve seen from him, as he was sandwiched between other cars at the first corner, but he didn’t seem willing to take too many risks.

As his teammate Sergio Perez lunged around the outside, Verstappen looked in danger of being trapped behind Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen, before both lost momentum coming out of Turn 1 and the world leader managed overtake them.

From then on, Verstappen kept his cool even as he struggled with his clutch, taking it easy as the team searched for a solution, and he didn’t flinch when he spun after passing Leclerc for the first time.

Asked how this win compared to Verstappen’s other big wins, team boss Christian Horner simply said: “It’s up there.”

Luck with the Red Bull engine problem

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

For all the skill shown on the track in Hungary, the element of good luck cannot be totally ruled out.

And it is that Verstappen had to start from the tenth position of the grid due to suffering an engine problem in qualifying.

Although the exact details of what happened have not been revealed, the team has confirmed that it was a broken component that caused the problem, and that it could not be repaired on track.

Therefore, Red Bull decided to equip Verstappen with its third power unit for Sunday’s race.

But, as Horner would later reflect, it was probably a stroke of luck that the part that broke did so on his final lap of Q3. If he had lasted just two more laps, it would have put him out of the race.

“Luckily, we’re sitting here now, seeing everything that happened, and thankful that it’s broken [in qualifying],” Horner said. “Because another 12 kilometers, and it would have broken on the way to the grill.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

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