VERSTAPPEN STARS IN DRAMATIC RACE IN BUDAPEST
- Date: Sunday 4 August, 2019
- Number of laps: 70
- Circuit length: 4.381km
- Race distance: 306.630km
- Max Verstappen, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing: Started 1st / Finished: 2nd
- Pierre Gasly, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing: Started 6th / Finished: 6th
Max Verstappen kept his loyal fans on the edge of their seats as he enjoyed a thrilling battle for victory with championship leader Lewis Hamilton at the Hungaroring. This report reviews Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Hungarian Grand Prix…
Fresh off the back of their second win in three races, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing arrived in Budapest, host of the final Grand Prix before the mid-season summer break, full of confidence. Their star driver Verstappen wasted no time getting on the pace when the action got under way at the Hungaroring, the Dutchman finishing second quickest in opening practice, just 0.165s adrift of top spot.
When the rain came in FP2, the RB15 – powered by Esso Synergy race fuel and Mobil 1 engine oil – effortlessly glided around the slippery circuit, with Pierre Gasly and Verstappen giving the team a one-two.
Warm and dry conditions returned for qualifying, with Verstappen making history as he took the first pole position of his career, becoming the fourth youngest driver to do so. He was also Formula One’s 100th different pole-sitter. The race began well, with Verstappen storming away from pole position as the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas squabbled over second place.
The Dutchman, cheered on by a large contingent of his loyal travelling fans, then came under pressure from Hamilton, but delivered a masterclass in defensive driving. However, Mercedes rolled the dice by pitting Hamilton for a second time. That dropped him to around 19 seconds behind Verstappen but left him on much fresher tyres.
Verstappen and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing opted to stay on the same rubber to maintain track position, but that meant his tyres were not in great shape as he entered the closing stages. Hamilton was able to pass him with three laps to go. With the lead lost, Verstappen pitted for soft tyres and promptly set the fastest lap of the race, earning him an additional bonus point.
His team mate Gasly recovered from a poor start, where he lost three places from sixth, to cross the line sixth and score points for the seventh time in eight races. Verstappen is now just seven points behind Bottas in the fight for second in the drivers’ championship while Red Bull are 44 points behind second-placed Ferrari in the constructors’ standings. Verstappen’s orange army of fans were in full voice at the Hungaroring throughout the race weekend, chanting his name every time the Dutchman drove past or waved to them from the grid. A host of a celebrities visited the paddock over the weekend, including actor Anthony Mackie – famed for his numerous roles in the Marvel Avenger films – and Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson plus singer-songwriter Rick Astley.
The teams get a summer break now, the season resuming at Spa Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix on 30th August – 1 September.
MAX VERSTAPPEN, DRIVER, ASTON MARTIN RED BULL RACING:
“We gave it our all but Lewis was clearly a bit faster than us today. It was nice to see that we had such a big gap to the others though and second is still a good result. It wasn’t our day in terms of pace but overall it was a good weekend and getting pole position was a great step. Of course, when you start at the front you want to win but you also have to be realistic and to finish second with the fastest lap was the most that we could do. I tried to keep Lewis behind when we were on the same tyres but because of the gap to third, he had the option to do a second stop which worked out for him. I was trying to survive out front and push on my tyres but when he was closing in by one or two seconds per lap there wasn’t much I could do. He closed so quickly on the fresh tyres that I wasn’t surprised he managed to get past. We then pitted to get the fastest lap, which is one extra point, and I’m of course happy to get that. No regrets and we tried everything we could. It was a good weekend for us and I go into the break with a good feeling as we’re getting closer all the time.”
PIERRE GASLY, DRIVER, ASTON MARTIN RED BULL RACING:
“It was a difficult race right from the beginning. We had a poor start which didn’t make life easy, and after that I just tried to attack as much as I could but I was sliding everywhere and struggling with grip. I was in a bit of a sandwich in Turn 1, then I was quite close with Kimi in Turn 2 so I lost a lot of time at the start which didn’t help my race. The weekend started pretty well and Friday was good, we were happy with FP1 and FP2, but from Saturday I have just struggled for grip. We finished the race P6 and scored some points but for sure it was not the amount we wanted. It’s good for everyone to have a break now and switch off. I will relax and review the first half of the season, I will look at what went well and what could have been better so I come back sharper and stronger for the second half and make sure we score more points.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, TEAM PRINCIPAL, ASTON MARTIN RED BULL RACING:
“It was frustrating the way that things panned out today. Max did everything we asked of him, he made the start and controlled the race in the opening laps. We needed to pit earlier to cover Lewis, who pitted six laps later and Mercedes had great pace today. They pushed, pushed, pushed and we were able to protect and defend. Max and Lewis were so far ahead of the field with 22 laps to go that Mercedes rolled the strategic dice and pitted Lewis for new medium tyres. If we had pitted to cover we would have conceded track position so our bed was made to get to the end of the race. Congratulations to Mercedes and Lewis today, they were able to get the lead with three or four laps to go, at which point we had nothing to lose but bolt on a new set of softs and take the fastest lap. With Pierre, he lost places on the first lap but was able to recover through strategy back up to P6. Second and sixth position feels slightly frustrating on a day that promised more but nonetheless we achieved P2, pole position and fastest lap. Max has closed the gap to Valtteri in the Drivers’ Championship and the whole Team now heads into a well-earned summer break with real performance on the car in the last few races.”
Disclaimer: This race report is written by a Formula OneTM journalist and features quotes provided by Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. It does not necessarily reflect the view/s of Exxon Mobil Corporation or any of its subsidiaries
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