The Formula One 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix was held at the Hungaroring circuit in the city of Mogyorod, Hungary. This was the 3rd race of the 2020 F1 World Championship, the 36th running of the Hungarian GP, and the 35th as a world championship round. Since its inauguration in 1986, the race has taken place at the Hungaroring.
Lewis Hamilton came into the weekend on the back of a strong Styrian GP and as a 7-time race winner at the Hungaroring. Mercedes, which won the opening two rounds of the 2020 F1 season, unleashed the mind-blowing speed of the F1 W11 EQ car. Lewis stormed to a record 90th pole position of his career, by far the most that any F1 driver has ever had. He then went on to win the 8th Hungarian GP equalling the record of the great Michael Schumacher of most wins at the same circuit. Lewis is now only five wins behind an all-time record of 91 race wins by the legendary German.
Thursday Pre-Race Preparations
The weather forecast was for mixed conditions throughout the race weekend. The rain was expected on all three days of the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, making for an exciting qualifying and race. William confirmed that both George Rusell (England) and Nicholas Latifi (Canada) would drive for the team until the 2021 F1 season. Sebastian Vettel also broke the news about possible interest from the Racing Point to drive for the team from next season onwards, but Racing Point did not confirm the news nor denied it.
Hungaroring is a high-downforce circuit with plenty of long-duration corners following one after another and only one long home straight. Overtaking has always been the challenge of Hungaroring, so qualifying is crucial to rank a grid slot. FP1 was bone-dry while FP2 was very wet, and teams failed to complete the planned Friday running. However, there were still some signs of the pecking order after the FP1 data.
The Mercedes-AMG W11 EQ was the fastest car around the track in both dry and wet conditions. Racing Point was second quickest in the short run with Red Bull 3rd, Scuderia Ferrari 4th, and McLaren 5th in the order.
In the wet conditions, Mercedes was again very quick in the hands of both its drivers. Red Bull with better mechanical grip was 2nd quickest, Ferrari 3rd McLaren 4th, and Alpha Tauri 5th fastest in the wet conditions. Racing Point was again disappointing in the wet conditions just like it was in Austria.
The third practice session was held in dry conditions, and teams tried to do as much running as possible to get enough data for the qualifying and the race. Normal service resumed at the top of the table with a Mercedes 1-2 followed by the Racing Point RP20 of Sergio Perez. Red Bull third quickest ahead of Ferrari but their pace compared to the Mercedes looked horrible, and it was visible by the end of the FP3 that the battle for the pole position was only between the two Silver Arrow drivers.
Q1 started with a queue of cars waiting at the pitlane lights to set a banker lap in before the imminent arrival of the rain, which never arrived. Mercedes set the pace but on the second round of runs the circuit evolution meant Racing Point finished the first qualifying session as the fastest team.
Williams's team was the star of the session by getting both cars through to the second qualifying round. Lack of power from the Ferrari engine resulted in the elimination of both Haas and Alfa Romeo drivers. Daniil Kvyat was the 5th driver to get eliminated in Q1.
The second qualifying round saw a bold move by Racing Point to reach Q3 on a set of medium tyres for better race strategy. They made it narrowly into the next session in 8th and 9th place. Alexander Albon for Red Bull was the shock elimination of the session. Both Renault and Williams drivers also failed to qualify for the top ten positions.
Lewis Hamilton stormed to provisional pole position with a new lap record of the Hungaroring. Such was the speed and confidence Lewis had that even with raindrops starting to come down on the track during the final few minutes, he improved his time to take his 90th career pole position.
Valterri Bottas made it the 65th front-row lockout for Mercedes. Racing Point qualified on the 2nd row with Scuderia Ferrari occupying the 3rd. Max Verstappen a disappointing 7th ahead of two McLaren's and Gasly in 10th.
It started to rain a couple of hours before the race start and the track was very wet when the cars went from pitlane to the grid. Max Verstappen crashed as he approached the grid and damaged the front left suspension, but his mechanics did an unbelievable job by replacing the damaged parts on the grid just 25 sec before the teams had to speed off.
Both Haas drivers made a call to switch to dry tyres due to changing track conditions at the end of the formation lap which worked out brilliantly. Lewis started the race with intermediate wet tyres just like everybody else did apart from the Haas drivers. Hamilton led into the first corner ahead of Lance Stroll and a fast-starting Verstappen.
On lap 4, Lewis Hamilton dived into the pits for dry tyres, and the whole field followed him to change tyres, which meant some drivers gained while some lost the positions. By the end of lap 5, the order was Hamilton, Verstappen, and the two Haas drivers.
Ferrari made a strategic blunder by putting Leclerc on soft tyres while his teammate, just like the rest of the field, went for more durable mediums. The soft tyres destroyed the Monegasque’s race, resulting in him eventually finishing outside the points.
On lap 38 after most of the field had switched onto hard tyres, Hamilton was still in the lead with a gap of 20 sec on Max, with Bottas in 3rd. Bottas tried to overtake Max, but there was no way around, so Mercedes rolled the dice and Bottas pitted for fresh hard tyres with 20 laps still left in the race. He did his best but eventually ran out of laps and had to settle for third.
Such was the pace advantage of the Mercs that Hamilton lapped the whole field until 6th placed Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton pitted on lap 66 for softs and went after the fastest lap point. It was a mighty display of speed by Mercedes, with Lewis taking his 86th career race win. He leapfrogged his teammate in the driver’s standings and is now leading the driver’s championship.
Behind the top 3, Lance Stroll was 4th. Alexander Albon a brilliant 5th after starting in 12th, Vettel 6th but a lap down, Perez a disappointing 7th, Ricciardo 8th, Carlos Sainz 9th, and Kevin Magnussen finished 10th after receiving a 10-second time penalty for pitting at the end of the formation lap.
The first triple-header of the 2020 F1 season was very exciting as teams head back to England. Next is a second doubleheader at the Silverstone circuit where the first race will be Silverstone Grand Prix, while 2nd race will be F1’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at the Silverstone.
For a look back at the first two Austrian season openers, you may head on to our Grand Prix blog here. See you in Silverstone for an exciting month-ender!