Max Verstappen defiant as Lewis Hamilton questions Red Bull DRS decline – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, shake hands. Hungary, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, shake hands post-qualifying. Hungary, July 2023.

Qualifying for the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix is in the books, and what an action-packed day it has been!

Verstappen understandably went into Saturday at the Hungaroring as the favourite for pole, especially considering the upgrade package which Red Bull brought to the track for their RB19, believed to be worth up to two-tenths a lap.

That was not enough though to deny Lewis Hamilton a long-awaited 104th career pole, the Brit afterwards calling out Red Bull’s DRS and the perceived vanishing of its advantage, while Fernando Alonso also had a theory for why Red Bull have not looked quite as dominant as usual in recent rounds.

All that and plenty more to bring you up to speed with then, so let us dive into the action…

Max Verstappen insists Red Bull RB19 upgrades work

Just as it seemed the chasing pack were starting to reel Red Bull in, the runaway Championship leaders decided to hit back, or so they hoped, with an upgrade package focused around the sidepod area for the Hungarian GP.

It was not enough though to see off the Hamilton threat in qualifying, as the feeling that the walls are closing in on Red Bull’s all-conquering dominance grew stronger.

That being said, Verstappen is adamant that the upgrades for the RB19 are not proving to be duds.

“I think the update works,” Verstappen affirmed.

“But I think we just didn’t really put everything together setup wise, because I think today was just all over the shop and not exactly where we wanted to be.”

Read more: Max Verstappen defiant after being upstaged by Lewis Hamilton in Hungary pole battle recommends

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Where oh where has that Red Bull DRS advantage gone?

That was the question raised by Hamilton, who after claiming pole in Hungary, suggested that this key Red Bull weapon has gone missing.

Earlier in the campaign the mighty power of Red Bull’s Drag Reduction System generated a great deal of talk, the team often able to open up the rear wing and make it look like the unfortunate victim was from a junior category rather than sharing the F1 grid, such was the straight-line speed advantage it offered.

Hamilton though is no longer seeing that kind of weapon in the Red Bull arsenal.

“They’ve still got the DRS, they don’t have the DRS advantage all of a sudden that they used to have. Where did that go?” Hamilton questioned when speaking to Sky F1.

Read more: Lewis Hamilton questions disappearance of Red Bull’s huge DRS advantage

Or have Pirelli unintentionally pegged Red Bull back?

Fernando Alonso believes that is the case, not only for Red Bull, but for his Aston Martin team too.

With performance gains exceeding the predictions given to F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli at the start of the season, they decided to introduce a more robust tyre construction as of the British Grand Prix to cope with the increasing downforce levels.

It was not meant to have any impact on performance for the teams at all, but Alonso does not think that is the case.

“It is a coincidence that when the new Pirelli tyres came in Silverstone there are a couple of teams that were struggling more, and a couple of teams that are very happy with the car now,” Alonso told reporters.

“It’s not only us, I think Red Bull has clearly been hit with those tyres, they’ve been one-two in every qualifying, one-two in every race, and now they are not even on pole position.”

Read more: Fernando Alonso offers explanation for Red Bull performance decline

Toto Wolff provides major Lewis Hamilton contract update

Hamilton and his Mercedes future is starting to feel like a never-ending saga. Both parties are adamant they want to continue together beyond F1 2023, yet no new deal has been announced.

Could Wolff’s latest reveal though signal that an announcement is imminent, rather than serving as another false dawn?

“The state is we haven’t signed it but emotionally we have done it,” Wolff told Sky F1 in regards to a new Hamilton deal.

Read more: Significant Lewis Hamilton contract update issued by Mercedes boss in Hungary

Hungaroring signs bumper new deal with Formula 1

Hamilton then is yet to put pen to paper on a contract extension, but the Hungaroring has already ticked that box.

The Hungaroring has been ever-present on the Formula 1 schedule since it hosted the inaugural Hungarian Grand Prix back in 1986, not missing a year since.

And Formula 1’s visits to the track are guaranteed for many more years to come after a five-year contract extension was announced for the event.

Added onto the Hungaroring’s previous terms, it means the Hungarian Grand Prix is now secured on the F1 calendar through to 2032.

Read more: Hungaroring to undergo ‘significant development’ as F1 agree new long-term deal

Daniel Ricciardo praised by Red Bull boss after strong return

Eyebrows were raised for some when Ricciardo accepted the offer to return to the F1 grid with Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri, considering they are languishing at the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship.

Ricciardo clearly though has his eyes set on working his way back into the Red Bull line-up, and the common belief is that he must defeat team-mate Yuki Tsunoda throughout the rest of the campaign to stand any chance of making that “fairytale” come true.

And his first attempt was a strong one, Ricciardo getting the better of Tsunoda by a mere 0.013s in Q1 as Tsunoda suffered elimination, while Ricciardo went on to secure P13 on the grid.

That drew praise from Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner.

“I think, getting into a very foreign environment [after] seven months out of the seat, I thought that was a very solid, mature performance from him today today,” Horner told Sky F1.

Read more: Christian Horner delivers verdict on Daniel Ricciardo’s first F1 2023 qualifying performance

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