Zhou Guanyu’s bad start, Alpine’s worse luck, and more winners and losers from the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungaroring may be in the rear-view mirror, but before Formula 1 heads to Spa for next weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, we need to revisit what was a fascinating Hungarian Grand Prix. A race that saw Red Bull make some history thanks to Max Verstappen, McLaren continue their strong run of late, and some teams catch some bad breaks.

Here are the winners and losers from the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Winners: Red Bull

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

When you make history, you get top billing.

That is exactly the case for Verstappen, Sergio Pérez, and the entire Red Bull team.

With Verstappen’s win on Sunday, Red Bull set a new mark in F1 history with 12-straight victories, dating back to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to close out the 2022 campaign.

The victory also moves Verstappen closer to the all-time mark of consecutive wins as a driver. Verstappen is now just two behind the all-time mark set by Sebastian Vettel, who won nine-straight races during the 2013 campaign.

Verstappen is now tied with three drivers — Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher, and Nico Rosberg — with seven-straight wins.

As for Pérez, the result on Sunday offered a bit of redemption for the Red Bull driver, who has been under increasing pressure to perform better, particularly on Saturdays. Pérez did fare better on Saturday at the Hungaroring, reaching Q3 for the first time since the Miami Grand Prix at the start of May. While he only qualified ninth, it put him in much better position to make a move on Sunday and he did just that, with a podium of his own.

Loser: The First-Place Trophy

Despite their new record, and Verstappen’s victory, Red Bull has some work to do.

Namely, fixing his first-place trophy.

The trophy was a casualty of the podium celebration, thanks to Lando Norris and his trademark champagne pop. Celebrating his P2 the McLaren driver slammed his bottle of champagne on Verstappen’s podium to pop it open, knocking the trophy over in the process:

Still, you can excuse Norris’s exuberance. After all, this was his second-straight podium of the season, following his second-pace finish at Silverstone.

For for the rest of the grid, if you find yourself on a podium with Norris, make sure you put the trophy in a safe place before the champagne corks start popping.

Winners: McLaren

The big question coming into this week for McLaren was whether their strength at Silverstone, with its medium- and high-speed corners, would be something they could duplicate at the Hungaroring.

It sure looks like they did just that, taking yet another step forward with the MCL60.

Norris started in third and finished second, for as noted his second-straight podium. Teammate Oscar Pastri started next to Norris in fourth, and while he pushed for a podium and was running inside the top three for a good stretch of the Grand Prix — even running ahead of Norris early in the race — he ended up fifth, for his second-straight top five.

“I think we’re very happy with the progress we’ve made, to go from where we were four, five races ago, to be fighting for poles, and fighting for podiums, we’ll take it for now, and work hard to continue improving throughout the season,” said Norris in the team’s post-race debrief. “We’ve shown great teamwork; everyone back in the factory did an amazing job and we’ll now look to take these recent performances to Belgium.”

“Obviously, a great day for the team again, everyone at track and back at the factory. We have made decent steps forward in the last few races,” added Piastri. “The conditions this weekend have been a good test for us. To still be up there is a big confidence boost and we can look to take that momentum to Spa next week.”

For Team Principal Andrea Stella, the result is confirmation that they can get the MCL60 hooked up on a track like the Hungaroring, with its low-speed corners. “It was important to gain this confirmation that the improvements to our car work in hot conditions, and work on tracks with low-speed corners,” said Stella. “My thanks again to all the people at McLaren who have laboured so hard to bring these upgrades trackside. I hope they are enjoying the moment – but only today: tomorrow we refocus and get ready for the Sprint weekend at Spa.”

Losers: Alfa Romeo

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary

Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images

Well, that will teach me to take a victory lap.

Alfa Romeo turned a strong FP2 into an even stronger qualifying session, one that saw Valtteri Bottas qualify seventh and Zhou Guanyu qualify fifth, the best result of his entire F1 career.

However, their Sunday got off to a brutal start, as Guanyu’s C43 went into failsafe mode at the start, delaying him off the line. When he finally got going he ended up driving into the back of Daniel Ricciardo which set off a chain reaction of collisions that knocked both Alpines out of the race, and resulted in a five-second penalty for Zhou.

He finished the day in 16th.

As for Bottas, he threatened to come away with points, but could not manage to finish in the top ten, coming across the line in 12th.

It was a bitter result after a weekend that began with so much promise.

“The elation from yesterday’s result turned on its head, and there is no denying today has been very disappointing. We are yet to gather all the information about what exactly went on at the start: I was on full throttle, and then all of a sudden, something went wrong and I had to do the entire procedure again just in order to do a proper start,” said Zhou in the team’s post-race debrief. “We will be investigating this right away, to avoid repetitions in the future. Having said that, our race was pretty much over after this moment: we were at the back of the grid, with not many chances to climb back.”

“We had a good chance to turn a strong qualifying into points but, unfortunately, our race got compromised on lap one, just after the start. Zhou, who was in front of me, had some issues with the brake system strategy, so I had to move around him, losing some momentum,” added Bottas. “On top of that, all the cars starting on soft tyres passed us quickly. Overall, our pace was not quite as good as yesterday, and it didn’t really allow us to climb back through the field.”

Thankfully for the team, they get to turn the page quickly with a F1 Sprint Weekend awaiting at Spa.

Winner: George Russell

Saturday was an unmitigated disaster for George Russell. Caught up in traffic, the Mercedes driver failed to advance out of Q1, and as a result started 18th on Sunday.

But while his Saturday was one to forget — and one the team took responsibility for — his Sunday was a day Russell will certainly remember. The Mercedes driver made quite the charge, coming all the way from 18th at the start to finish in sixth, bringing home some important, and perhaps unexpected, points given where he began the day.

“P6 was beyond our expectations for today,” said Russell following the race. “It was definitely a good recovery. We thought we would be P11 in a typical race and P7 if we maximised everything. I’m happy with how it went. The car was really quick, and this place is one of my favourite circuits. As a Team, we usually go well here so I had a feeling we would be quick.”

Our expectations with George were to just make it into the points,” added Andrew Shovlin, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director. “For him to come sixth is a very good result.”

Losers: Alpine

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary

Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images

The sooner Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon can get to Spa, the better.

Because this was a weekend — and frankly a week — for Alpine to forget. The week began with new that CEO Laurent Rossi was being moved to a new position within the organization, and Philippe Krief was taking over as CEO of Alpine F1.

If that change was intended, at least in part, to provide a spark it did anything but. Neither driver advanced to Q3 on Saturday, leaving them near the back of the file when the lights went out on Sunday.

Then, on the opening lap, they got caught up in traffic following Zhou’s failed start. Ricciardo ended up in the back of Ocon, knocking his A523 into the air before it slammed back down on the circuit and managed to collide with Gasly’s A523. The collision was strong enough not just to knock both drivers out of the race, but it split Ocon’s seat in two. He was taken to the care center for evaluation before being cleared.

After the race, both drivers shared their frustrations.

“There is not much to say from today. It’s a very frustrating end to the weekend being involved in a racing incident with a few cars at Turn 1 on the first lap. There was not much we could do and the result was both cars had to retire with significant damage,” said Ocon. “Fortunately, I’m OK. Right now our focus is on regrouping and coming back stronger as we have another race next weekend in Belgium. We must move on quickly with the aim of heading into the summer break on a good note.”

“It’s extremely frustrating for the entire team to have a double retirement, especially in such circumstances so early into the race,” added Gasly. “I was the unfortunate victim of a crash between a handful of cars and I just had nowhere to go and no chance of avoiding the incident. It’s disappointing after making a good start off the line where I gained a couple of positions.”

Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer shared just how bitter the result was for the team.

“We’re all very disappointed by today’s race with both our cars on the receiving end of an unfortunate, lap one, turn one incident,” said Szafnauer. “There was a concertina effect with one car hitting another leading to our two cars coming together in an unavoidable circumstance. Right now, it’s a bitter feeling for all of us, a tough one to take, but we must keep our heads down and bounce back.”

At the start of last week we outlined how the biggest question facing Alpine was whether their luck would turn around.

Sunday was not a step in the right direction.

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