If Saturday at the Hungarian Grand Prix breathed a flicker of life into the increasingly one-sided 2022 Formula 1 title battle, the Sunday duly extinguished it over the course of a frantic 70 laps.
Below are our winners and losers from the final F1 event before the series heads for its traditional summer break.
Probably the biggest single-race winner of the year?
You can’t get much better than overturning a qualifying disaster by waltzing to the win with one of the best drives of his career so far – the spin excluded – while his chief rival suffers a strategy nightmare and drops 13 points.
It leaves Verstappen with a commanding 80-point lead in the drivers’ championship heading into the summer break. He’s got every chance of avoiding a repeat of last year’s exhausting title run-in as he’s well on course to get this wrapped up by October. Josh Suttill
The Silver Arrows are mounting an honest-to-God challenge for second place in the constructors’ standings – which admittedly also says a lot about the team they’re mounting that challenge against, but is nonetheless a really impressive turnaround.
There was an undercurrent of ‘this could’ve been a win’ in both George Russell’s and Lewis Hamilton’s post-race rhetoric, but it’s hard to hold any lost opportunities against Mercedes when its two main rivals are demonstrably quicker in a vast majority of conditions.
Russell had win-calibre pace in the early laps, Hamilton in the final stages. Putting those together would’ve done it for the top step of the podium, but in any case the fact they were both able to beat at least one Ferrari and one Red Bull on merit again is thoroughly encouraging.
The ‘novelty’ of Mercedes podiums won’t last far into the second half of the season, but for now the well isn’t dry yet. Valentin Khorounzhiy
If Ferrari wasn’t taking all the headlines with its mismanagement of Charles Leclerc’s title bid, there would probably be a lot more questions towards McLaren over whether its MCL36 isn’t quite of the same calibre as its lead driver.
Lando Norris was exceptional again in Hungary, demolishing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by a tidy six tenths of a second in qualifying and launching himself into fourth on the opening lap.
That he would finish 78 (!) seconds behind the winner is a sad state of affairs, but that’s just Formula 1’s Class A/Class B reality, as pronounced as ever now that Mercedes is getting good again.
Except Norris looks every bit a Class A driver, his stock as high as ever. VK
In the week that Vettel announced his retirement, 18th in qualifying – his worst at the Hungaroring since 2007 – was hardly the result he’d have been looking for (though it might have vindicated his decision to call it a day at the end of the year).
But the Aston Martin and its rear wing upgrade was a far better proposition in the race. Vettel survived the lap-one tangle with Alex Albon that required a brief virtual safety car and ran 14th in the early stages, and thereafter matched the progress being made by team-mate Lance Stroll as they fought their way into points contention.
While Stroll’s pace on the soft tyre caught the eye as he reeled in the points occupiers, Vettel fared well in comparison on the medium and it was that call that earned him the right to move ahead of the sister car in the closing stages.
A single point – which could have been two, Vettel having made good use of the late VSC to catch Esteban Ocon – isn’t what the four-time champion is in F1 for. But a clean, efficient race was a reminder of what he’s capable of. Jack Cozens
A 1-3 on Friday. A 2-3 on Saturday. A 4-6 on Sunday.
Nobody does it better. VK
Where do you begin? It seems harsh to single Leclerc out given his race’s undoing was not of his making, but there’s no escaping this was another race that got away.
Not only did he fall from the lead, as Verstappen swept to an eighth victory of the season, but Leclerc also asked for his stint to be extended as long as possible – circumstances that would undoubtedly have, if nothing else, given him a sniff of holding off the Red Bull.
Mattia Binotto was insistent that the modelling Ferrari had showed the hard could hold up better towards the end of the stint, but the real-time evidence being fed back by the Alpine and Haas drivers didn’t back that up. What’s more, it was Leclerc – Ferrari’s lead driver in the title fight no less – not Sainz who paid the price.
It says a lot about Ferrari’s position at the moment that its driver had a better feel for the strategy than the team. JC
The points drought teams
Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri and Williams. Two of those teams have brought in major upgrades very recently. But, more pertinently, three of those teams have drawn blanks for increasingly long stretches.
It’s four races since an Alfa graced the points, five since an AlphaTauri did so, and eight since Williams scored. All three looked OK at various stages in the weekend, but none ultimately got particularly close to taking anything out of Hungary.
Williams was probably never going to get anything when it failed to rain significantly, but Alfa should be seething at yet another reliability drama, and AlphaTauri produced yet another untidy weekend culminating in Yuki Tsunoda’s spin. VK
When Ricciardo pulled an extraordinary double overtake on the Alpine duo, it was an excellent reminder of his box-office racecraft.
Unfortunately, we were also reminded of why he’s facing so much criticism at McLaren and he cost himself and McLaren points to Alpine by locking up and hitting Stroll into Turn 2.
Ricciardo gracefully apologised to Stroll right after the race and the slam-dunk nature of the penalty he received suggested he had nobody else but himself to blame.
The hard tyres were clearly the wrong call and likely contributed to the mistake but he was already at risk of ending up outside the points even before the clash.
A shame after he was running solidly behind his team-mate Norris following his double Alpine overtake in the early stages. JS
The upgraded Haas
Kevin Magnussen had his race ruined by a black-and-orange flag for the second time this season as he was caught out by Ricciardo braking right in front of him while he was on “full throttle” on the exit of Turn 1 on the opening lap.
The consequent early pitstop effectively turned his race into a test session as he trundled home in 16th place, only ahead of the Williams duo and Tsunoda.