With his first-ever victory at the Hungaroring, Max Verstappen overcame a poor qualifying performance to increase his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 80 points.
A power unit malfunction prevented the Dutch driver from posting a lap time in Q3, so he began the Hungarian Grand Prix from P10.
In the end, Verstappen’s power unit issue ended up saving his entire weekend, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner acknowledged he was “grateful” the Dutch driver experienced the issue that caused his Saturday to conclude on a low.
Red Bull realized that the complete power unit was in dire need of replacement while repairing the damaged component before the race.
Verstappen and Sergio Pérez both had backup engines in their pool, so the Austrian team switched out both of their power units as a “precaution.” However the Red Bull drivers were lucky to escape grid penalties, as Verstappen and Pérez started from positions 10 and 11, respectively.
Verstappen’s engine was barely 12 kilometers from failing completely, Horner shockingly stated after the race. The reigning world champion would’ve experienced a full power unit failure on the way to the grid on Sunday if he hadn’t experienced a problem during qualifying.
“We changed the power unit because there was a part that broke on Max’s car [in qualifying],” the Red Bull team principal told reporters. “Luckily we are here now (as race winners) [but] with the maximum hindsight it’s lucky the part broke yesterday because with 12 kilometres more, it would have broken during the laps to the grid.”
“So we decided to change the whole power unit rather than trying to fix it there. And as a precaution, we also changed Checo’s engine.”
Red Bull withdrew two engines from Verstappen’s and Pérez’s cars; however, it was determined that both of the engines could be repaired.
Verstappen went on to win the race, and his teammate finished in P5. Red Bull currently leads Scuderia Ferrari by 97 points heading into the summer break.
On Sunday, the difference between the two should have been less, but another strategic blunder by Ferrari caused Charles Leclerc to lose the race lead and end up in sixth place. Ferrari fitted the Hard compound tire on Leclerc’s F1-75 despite Pirelli’s cautions not to do so.
Verstappen easily passed Leclerc twice as he discovered how difficult it was to warm up the Hard compound due to the low track temperatures.
Shortly after overtaking Leclerc for the first time, Verstappen lost control and spun. After regaining control, he quickly overtook Leclerc once more.