421 thousandths. Max Verstappen’s delay against Lewis Hamilton at the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying is undoubtedly heavy on such a short track. Between the two contenders in the fight for the title has entered Valtteri Bottas, who will have the task of protecting the seven-time world champion in a start that promises to be incandescent and not on equal terms given that the Red Bulls will start on soft tires. On Friday in the second free practice session, Mercedes had already placed the W12 double ahead of the world ranking leader, who knew he could count on a few more horsepower to unleash in his Honda power unit.
In terms of engine, Red Bull, starting from the French Grand Prix, had achieved a development step with the introduction of the second unit of the three provided for by the regulation. James Allison, Mercedes technical director, had stated that in addition to aerodynamic developments – brought to Silverstone – also the Brixworth department dedicated to the power unit had in store some extra horsepower to extract from the power unit that equips the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull aerodynamics wizard Adrian Newey also recognized this: “We have not reduced the power in the last two races, Mercedes must have found some Kilowatts recently“, his words reported by the German newspaper Auto Motor and Sport.
The first part of the 2021 championship will close today, eleven races in which, for various reasons, Red Bull and Max Verstappen were unable to fully exploit the technical superiority that appeared evident in some race weekends. The two zeroes in Baku and Silverstone weigh heavily, as does the faded success in the opening Grand Prix in Bahrain. To be sure of going on vacation still at the top of the ranking Verstappen will have to close at least in second place the race scheduled for today in Budapest. If Lewis Hamilton were to win by recording the fastest lap, then the duelists would meet at the end of August in Spa perfectly paired in the standings at 203 points.