Light rains at the beginning, as many as 6 DNFs all thanks to an opening lap incident involving four cars, all vying for a close finish, a victory for a young French driver that none could have anticipated and a turnaround in the 2021 driver’s championships, with Hamilton eventually taking the lead away from Verstappen despite not winning the Grand Prix, the 2021 Hungarian GP was a race to treasure and something that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
But what were the key talking points from 2021 Hungarian GP? Let’s find out.
Esteban Ocon- the man of the moment!
Needless to say, among the precious talking points from 2021 Hungarian GP was Esteban Ocon’s maiden career win. A driver whose most recent win came in GP2 at Spain and that too, well over half a decade back in the day, Esteban Ocon drove home Alpine’s maiden Formula 1 Grand Prix victory and with great determination and resilience.
For a driver who’s personal best finish at the daunting Hungarian Grand Prix prior to round eleven of the 2021 World championship was a modest P9 in 2017, which he bagged with Force India, Esteban Ocon is on top of the world right now, not just on the top step of the podium.
A beneficiary of the early opening lap skirmish that doused the Hungarian Grand Prix in unforeseeable drama, with Bottas crashing into Norris, who, in turn, went into the rear of Max Verstappen, Ocon made some promising early moves up the order.
From that point on, he hung on to the lead of the race, defying until the very end, a steely effort by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who gave it everything to blast past the Alpine, but never succeeding until the end.
This was pretty much down to a demonstration of gritty racing of the highest order by a driver who’s as low key as he’s low on drama and hype.
Perhaps this makes Ocon’s grand- if unanticipated- success even more delightful.
Mick Schumacher shows his mettle
Who would’ve thought Mick Schumacher would produce such a sterling racing effort at Hungary, when just yesterday, he wasn’t even out there on time for Q1, sitting patiently in the garage waiting for his Haas engineers to repair his damaged machine?
But one of the key talking points from 2021 Hungarian GP was the utter resilience shown by Schumacher in his Haas in the mega battles he held, first with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and later, with Williams’ George Russell.
A great battle that continued for nearly eight consecutive laps, Mick Schumacher, despite being out of a points place, defended brilliantly from Max Verstappen.
It’s one thing to defend from a racing driver when you are paired with a strong car, but something completely different when you have to fend off a Max Verstappen, who as one saw at Hungary, pushed as hard as he possibly could’ve despite driving an ailing Red Bull machine.
There were moments where the rookie German driver was only two tenths out in front of Max, but even then he found a way to keep the nose of his Haas out in front, before being eventually outperformed by a more determined Verstappen, in a Red Bull with superior corner pace.
Later on, Schumacher, inside the top ten, in the latter half of the race, fought off brilliantly against the Williams of George Russell in the battle for ninth. Though, eventually, the Mercedes-powered car would enjoy the ascendency over a car that though Mick extracted the best out of, Schumacher was perhaps never in great position to challenge the authority of Russell, who was elbows out in his desire to get the better off a vulnerable target.
But the Hungarian GP demonstrated why Mick is rated so highly and may well go on to forge his own place under the sun in the times to come. One reckons, had his famous father been there in person to see Mick race, he’d have been very proud.
Heartbreak for Max Verstappen
Not a race that Max Verstappen or his Red Bull outfit would’ve wanted. And certainly not a race where they’d have thought, Verstappen, who was to have ideally challenged Hamilton for points, would even fall out of the top three in the end.
But who has ever said that Formula 1 boils down to what one presupposes and dances according to one’s whims and fancies?
Among the key (albeit sad) talking points from 2021 Hungarian GP was the race result garnered by Max Verstappen; a position far from ideal, though not down to the Dutchman’s fault one bit.
For a driver whose race was compromised all thanks to the unanticipated opening lap fiasco, caused evidently by Valtteri Bottas braking too late for anyone’s good, the rear of Verstappen’s Red Bull was contacted by the McLaren of Lando Norris, whose MCL 35 Bottas went into in the opening lap causing mayhem.
So poor and unrelenting was the opening lap drama that it suspended the race into a red flag session.
But what was spectacularly heartbreaking for Verstappen was that his race fortunes suffered a great deal just after he’d managed to overtake Bottas for second. He may well have gone on to challenge Lewis Hamilton, on whom he was enjoying a lead in the driver’s championship, prior to the action-packed Hungaroring race, something which he has lost out on now.
In the end, the man who was enjoying unprecedented advantage over the best driver on the grid- Sir Lewis Hamilton- managed just a solitary point, having finished tenth.
Forza Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso is incredible. He’s a living legend. And guess what, he’s also a great imposter. He cannot possibly be doing the things he does aged 40, and being at that stage in his career where he is anything but young.
But Formula 1, as we’ve seen with the likes of talents like Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen doesn’t care about age as long as one can pull off some incredible punches, the likes of which Fernando Alonso of Oviedo did in a battle with none other than Lewis Hamilton, something that left fans and pundits ecstatic.
Not that Alonso would care much for decorations like the “Driver of the Day” award or something, for all he cares is about going fast and pushing the car to the very limit in a bid to show maximum race craft, a sight that was pleasant and thrilling in equal measure from the onset of lap 55 until 65, which was when Hamilton finally got past the Spaniard.
But one of the key talking points from 2021 Hungarian GP was the exasperating battle between a double world champion and a seven-time world champion for ten back-to-back laps that left one as thrilled as entertained.
If there was ever going to be a driver that would fend off someone as attacking as Lewis Hamilton, the pouncing tiger of Formula 1, and that too, in a midfield car, then it had to be Fernando Alonso, which he did with absolute precision and nerves of steel, denying Lewis the track position even on the straights where Mercedes’ power and race-speed are second perhaps only to Red Bull, as seen this season.
In the end, a valiant P5 is what Fernando Alonso managed, but some might not be wrong in saying that the man from Asturias was the sentimental winner at Hungary.
Raikkonen’s dramatic race
The Iceman Kimi Raikkonen arrived at Hungary, one of his famous hunting grounds, with only one intention and one alone: to score some points and firstly, get himself up into a decent qualifying grid position.
Having done half the good work all thanks to a fighting thirteenth on the grid, a performance to remember in some ways since in the previous four consecutive attempts, Raikkonen had been knocked out in Q1 itself, the Finn battled a dramatic race.
Benefitting early from the opening lap incident which involved the quintuplet of Gasly, Leclerc, Norris, Bottas and Verstappen, Kimi moved up and fluently so to eighth.
This would be a position he would hold onto with great determination, finding the likes of Daniel Riccardo and later, Max Verstappen vying for his P8.
Then came a dramatic moment in the pits, where on account of an unsafe release, Raikkonen came into the way of Nikita Mazepin, contacting the Haas tersely only for the Russian to retire and earn an undesirable 10-second stop go penalty.
This compromised Kimi’s chances of finishing inside points, which certainly looked the possibility. He would be later passed by Verstappen, the Dutchman on fresher rubber and Kimi contesting on the hard compounds.
Although, Raikkonen kept fighting, going as far as even setting the fastest lap of the race (at one point) on Lap 20, given his 1:23:165, he would fall out of the top ten eventually.
And then could do only as much as pass the McLaren of Riccardo in the closing stages to finish eleventh on the grid.
Not that Kimi would care, but for someone who was in contention for a fine finish and made up two places in a rather insipid machine, the Hungarian GP, venue of 9 of his 103 career podiums, didn’t exactly signal a terrible race for the F1 veteran.