It was a weird race for Mercedes at the Hungarian GP. George Russell was out of Q3 after a rare mistake from the strategy team, while Lewis Hamilton was able to put the car on pole, but failed to capitalise on it. It wasn’t all bad, with Russell able to recover P6 after starting P18, but P4 was all Hamilton could manage.
McLaren, in stark contrast, very much capitalised on their pace with P2 and P5 for Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri respectively.
The Woking team was certainly quick at the Hungaroring, but Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, and Russell both assert that Mercedes had the second quickest car over the weekend.
“I think we had the second quickest car,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “If you look at the speed profile also where George came from but we just didn’t monetise on it.
“Having said that, you see what [Max] Verstappen is doing and that needs to be the target and it’s far off at the moment.”
Russell echoed his boss’ sentiments saying that they are “equal second” to McLaren.
“McLaren in all honesty [are] maybe one small step ahead,” Russell said. “Probably more so on Lando’s side, but I’ve been really impressed with Oscar this year. He has had a really tough season as a rookie and is really impressive. He’ll get there I’m sure to make to Lando’s level at some point.
“They’re going to be a real threat but I think we’ve got enough legs on them so far to hold them off until the rest of the season. I’d say we’re maybe equal second with McLaren.”
Lewis Hamilton doesn’t agree with his teammate and presented a more pessimistic view of events at Hungary.
“We were just too slow in the first two stints,” Hamilton told the media. “The balance was not good and the car was just slow.
“But then the balance picked up a lot at the end and all of a sudden, I was able to apply the pressure [on Perez] but it was too late.
“It is obvious that we’re not the quickest, we don’t have the quickest car and I am very proud of the job that we did [in qualifying] to get pole position and out-perform the World Champion and the other guy that is quicker and the other two cars [McLaren] that were quicker than us.
“It’s just the reality – we’re not fast enough. I was told the strategy this morning that I would be five or six-tenths slower than the Red Bull, so the fight was not with Max and I was hoping that we could fight the McLarens.”
Hamilton did manage an overtake on Piastri in the closing stages of the race, securing P4, but couldn’t manage an effort on Lando Norris in P2. Though, neither could Sergio Perez in P3.