Hungarian Grand Prix notebook – Sunday

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On Sunday, Hungary hosted its 34th Formula One race which turned into a strategy battle between Red Bull and Mercedes. F1Technical.net’s Balázs Szabó reports on the Hungaroring paddock’s main topics.

Chequered flag – It was Simon Pagenaud who waved the chequered flag at the end of today’s race. The whole paddock has been waiting for the Frenchman’s visit on Sunday as it is a rarity that the Indycar series makes appearance in any form in a Formula One Grand Prix. Although the chequered flag has only a symbolic meaning this year, Pagenaud was happy to take on this task. The French driver who won this year’s Indy 500 was invited by the Renault team. The French outfit wanted to collect trophies for motorsport’s triple crown together: Daniel Ricciardo’s trophy for his 2018 Monaco Grand Prix victory, Nico Hülkenberg’s trophy for his 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans triumph was completed by Simon Pagenaud’s trophy for his 2019 Indy 500 win.

A difficult task – During the post-race press conference, the top three finishers were asked to rate their own performance over the first half of the season. Claiming that he is performing well and his season is one of the best of his career, Hamilton said that he would give himself “8.9, 8.8.” Sebastian Vettel was harsh on himself, arguing that he “struggled here and there to really get on top of the car”, therefore he only gave five points to himself. Max Verstappen was reluctant to rate his performance during the first twelve races of the season, but Vettel and Hamilton were adamant to force the Dutchman to say a number. Giving up his reluctance, Verstappen rated his performance with 9.9.

Private topic – Sebastian Vettel was faced with the latest news that he would become a father for the third time. The German has two daughters, Emily and Matilda and his wife Hanna Prater is supposed to be pregnant again. The four-time world champion, however, refused to comment on the news, claiming that “I don’t like to talk about my private life.”

Future – As uncertainty revolves around the future of Valtteri Bottas, the Finn admitted in Hungary that he does not take it for granted that Mercedes will retain his driving duties for next year. "When you’re in Formula 1, you should always have a plan B and plan C as well," he said. Although Bottas’ seat seemed to be firm, Toto Wolff is now openly weighing up to promote reserve driver Esteban Ocon to become Lewis Hamilton’s new team-mate in 2020.

Calendar – Teams once again met in Budapest on Saturday to discuss the 2020 calendar. Most of the outfits were reluctant to expand the current calendar as they felt that even the 21-race schedule is too intensive. However, it seems that teams tend to agree with Liberty Media’s recent plans of adding one more race to the actual calendar. Netherlands and Vietnam are set to join the sport as of 2020 with Germany and Spain losing their positions on the Grand Prix calendar, albeit the latter seems to hang on to its place for next year.

Surprising victory – Starting from the reverse grid pole position, Mick Schumacher managed to keep his place and won the Formula 2 sprint race on Sunday, securing his first victory and his first podium finish in Formula One’s main supporting series. When asked about his chances of joining the pinnacle of motorsport, Schumacher admitted that his victory will definitely help him. "Only time will tell if I go into Formula 1. But this is a victory that will help me to grow," the 20-year-old German said.

High wear – Although Pirelli predicted that the one-stop race would be the best strategy to chose for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but Mercedes elected another way for Lewis Hamilton, the eventual race winner. The Briton stretched his first stint out, but an early pit stop for Max Verstappen meant that Mercedes had to find another way to beat Red Bull. Hamilton first pitted on lap 31 for hard tyres and he only covered 17 laps to change to the mediums. However, 15 of the 19 drivers who finished the race completed the race with only one stop as track position is usually vital around the tight layout of the Hungaroring.