A thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix yielded a maiden Formula 1 victory for Esteban Ocon, who resisted race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel while there was drama for title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
It brings to an end a thrilling first half of the 2021 season, with a four-week break now until the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of the month.
Our writers look at who will be going into the summer break as a winner and a loser after a mesmerising race.
It was difficult – difficult for me anyway – not to question Alpine’s decision to reward Ocon with a long-term extension after a rather inconclusive season-and-a-bit at the team, and it became more difficult after a particularly poor Austria double-header.
That looks to have been a big outlier fixed with a chassis change, but this is an outlier too. Yet if one race doesn’t change everything, it certainly changes a lot.
Ocon qualified well, put himself in a position to benefit from both the first-lap madness and Mercedes’ big error, and drove an extremely measured race under near-constant pressure. – Valentin Khorounzhiy
Sure, a second podium for Aston Martin could have been a first F1 win in two years for Vettel without a slow pitstop and a couple of small mistakes, but it’s still a huge improvement following a miserable British Grand Prix.
While his team-mate Stroll wiped himself out of the race at the opening turn, Vettel recovered from a bad getaway, kept a calm head and used all of his experience to benefit from the chaos and pick his way through.
As he said after the race, he was faster than Ocon and his relentless speed on his out-lap out of the pits should have been enough for Vettel to overcome Ocon, if not for a slightly slow pitstop.
It caps off a solid first half of the year for Vettel who looks reinvigorated at his new home.
Or at least it would have, had Vettel not been disqualified several hours after the chequered flag for not providing a big enough fuel sample. It’s a gut punch after a really solid weekend – Josh Suttill
A day on from Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski lamenting that his team hadn’t been capitalising on the more chaotic races that presented the big points-scoring opportunities, Alpine went ahead and did just that.
The 35 points is a monumental haul in the battle against Aston Martin and AlphaTauri (it nearly doubled Alpine’s tally for the season), but the impact may be even greater than that.
Yes, the Enstone-based team tasted the podium again last year, but it had flown higher than that in the past. And its reputation has taken something of a hit since not just the Benetton and Renault titles, but even the start of the last decade.
Now, this new iteration of the team has a major trophy to hang on the wall, and to help it believe it will be one of many. – VK
Hamilton and his Mercedes team made a mistake in not changing tyres before the red flag restart but Hamilton is undoubtedly among the biggest winners of the Hungarian GP.
He undercut his title rival Verstappen and without the damage that was hampering the Red Bull driver, Hamilton drove forwards and made some bold moves.
A spirited defence from Alonso cost Hamilton the win, but he wisely didn’t risk it all to pass his former team-mate and once he cleared Alonso, he picked off Sainz quickly and probably only needed a couple more laps to clear Vettel and Ocon.
You’d have been very brave to predict Hamilton would be back into the lead of a championship just two races after he trailed Verstappen by 32 points after a bruising defeat in the Austrian GP. – JS
On a day when there were points on offer thanks to an upside-down race, Williams capitalised by getting Nicholas Latifi and George Russell home eighth and ninth.
The six points bagged might already be enough to secure eighth-place in the constructors’ championship given that’s four more than Alfa Romeo has.
The opportunity came calling and both Williams drivers answered. – Edd Straw
Bottas’ error didn’t work out too badly for Mercedes, but as far as ways of taking the championship lead (in both categories) go that was clearly deeply embarrassing for the Finn’s team.
It was an easy error to make but it’s not the first time Bottas has fallen short in mixed conditions, and it comes at a deeply inopportune time. He’s been a good servant for Mercedes, but if a 2022 decision is indeed coming in the summer break, surely he’s run out of time to make his case. – VK
Max Verstappen and Red Bull
After a devastating and short-lived British GP, the last thing Verstappen’s title hopes needed was another collision.
His car may have just about survived this one unlike his Copse shunt, but the damage he sustained made a fightback incredibly difficult.
Verstappen still raced hard to secure a solitary point but he’s lost 39 points to Hamilton across the last two races.
His Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez was also collateral damage in the opening corner pile-up and didn’t even get a chance to fight back, with terminal damage aboard his car. To make matters worse, Perez believes he has engine damage which will result in a grid penalty later down the line. – JS
Antonio Giovinazzi may have been doomed by the red flag, given he gave up heaps of track position but didn’t get to potentially benefit from the bold call to switch to slicks at the initial start.
But he really should’ve picked some other race to speed in the pitlane – and Alfa Romeo really should’ve picked some other race to release Kimi Raikkonen into the path of Nikita Mazepin, ending the Russian’s race and incurring a penalty.
Potentially not season-destroying but not far off it – Alfa will now need to find more points from somewhere, anywhere, to get back ahead of WIlliams. – VK
The mistakes of Bottas and Stroll at the first corner proved disastrous for McLaren as it led to Lando Norris’s car being too heavily damaged to take the restart and left Ricciardo struggling with a scarred car.
Ricciardo couldn’t quite hang onto the final point and the resulting blank allowed Ferrari to close to within three points in the battle for third in the constructors’ championship. – ES
It’s easily done in these conditions but Stroll braked too late for the first corner.
From there, he was always in trouble but did what he could to try and avoid contact by throwing the car to the inside. He ended up hitting Leclerc’s Ferrari and, indirectly, ruining McLaren’s race too.
It’s especially painful when his team-mate drove a brilliant race to secure his second podium of the season while Stroll’s best stands at P8. – ES
For a glorious few seconds, things opened up for Leclerc perfectly at the start. Then Stroll hit him and ended his race, transforming delight to frustration. As he put it, “nice bowling game”.
Nice bowling game. So frustrating.
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) August 1, 2021
It’s a meaningless exercise, but you can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Stroll didn’t wipe him out of the race. – ES