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Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Alonso profits from McLaren’s long term strategy // Spanish battle is Hungarian highlight as Alonso and Sainz star

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Alonso was able to open up an impressive 20 second gap in the second half of the race
Credit: McLaren Honda

Some may have been ready for their summer holidays in Hungary but there were still good drives down the field and some surprising names scoring solid points. Now the development war starts in earnest, with youngsters (and Robert Kubica) in the cars this week before some much-needed rest for everyone.

Alonso earns his deck chair rest

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Honda: Started 7th, Finished 6th

If there was ever evidence that the Hungaroring is a kart track in disguise it was Fernando Alonso’s performance in Hungary. Alonso’s sixth place completely vindicated McLaren’s decision to take a 30-place penalty in Britain to preserve their chances in Hungary.

The Spaniard was on it all weekend as McLaren looked somewhere approaching their potent best of years gone by. They’ll only have two or three opportunities to score points this year and they cashed in with a double points haul in Hungary, crucially jumping Sauber up to ninth in the championship, though that’s as big a sign as any of how far the mighty have fallen.

Alonso was able to open up an impressive 20 second gap in the second half of the race

Alonso had maintained position at the start, leaving him staring at Sainz’s Toro Rosso rear wing for 35 laps. McLaren tried the undercut but Toro Rosso called their bluff and both pitted on lap 35. The Toro Rosso stayed in front, just, with Alonso last on the limiter and first off it. The chance wasn’t quite gone and Alonso got aggressive, eventually squeezing past on lap 36. In clear air, Alonso was able to open up an impressive 20 second gap in the second half of the race, finishing best of the rest and the only midfield runner on the lead lap, which was a good thing too as the two-time champion set an incredible fastest lap on the final lap. Maybe McLaren do have some very buried underlying pace.

Sainz back on form

Carlos Sainz Jr, Scuderia Toro Rosso: Started 9th, Finished 7th

Sainz’s seventh place continues a great season for the Spaniard
Credit: Peter Fox/Getty

Another man sniffing an opportunity with less of a power deficit was Alonso’s compatriot Carlos Sainz, who got back to his best form after three retirements in the last four races. This time out, he enjoyed a strong drive to seventh and a hard-fought battle with his childhood hero Fernando Alonso. Ultimately Sainz thought discretion was the better part of valour and yielded, showing good maturity to hold on to six points rather than risking them further for an extra two.

Sainz’s seventh place continues a great season for the Spaniard

Sainz’s seventh place continues a great season for the Spaniard; outside of the Mercedes, Red Bulls and Sebastian Vettel, Sainz is the only driver in the field to have scored points in every race he’s finished, which for a driver in midfield machinery is a phenomenal stat. The caveat to that is that two of his four retirements this season have been driver errors, careering into the side of Lance Stroll in Bahrain and cutting across Romain Grosjean in Canada, both incidents perhaps showing an impatience at the logjam in front of him. Nevertheless, that level of consistent pace needs to be rewarded with a drive in a top car sooner rather than later.

Sainz made a great start, jumping both McLarens and avoiding the sideways Red Bull to move up to sixth. With no one in front to race with, his attentions turned to his mirrors, holding off Alonso’s faster McLaren until the stops and just about down the pitlane before Alonso made the most of the fresh tyres to get past. It’s good to see Sainz back near the sharp end, as he came home seventh, holding off a late race charge from Sergio Pérez.

Mad Max recovers to spare blushes

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing: Started 5th, Finished 5th

Lap 2-70 of Max Verstappen’s race was a case of what might have been. Unfortunately, that was all it was after a clumsy move into turn two on the first lap left teammate Ricciardo out with a pierced radiator and punctured tyre along with a 10 second penalty for Verstappen himself. The Dutchman went on to finish ten seconds off the win, showing just how costly an error it was as the team scored 10 points when at least 25 were available, as well as the benefit of running the race in clear air.

Verstappen clearly had the pace to beat the Mercedes
Credit: Dan Mullan/Getty

He seemed like a man possessed as he reeled in Bottas, the one man not in traffic, with ease

Without the incident, Verstappen clearly had the pace to beat the Mercedes and with Sebastian Vettel struggling, who knows what Red Bull could have achieved with all of the strategic options available to them. Verstappen showed good pace to hold off Hamilton easily throughout the first stint, maintaining his tyres very well and pitting far later than anyone, on lap 42, to reap the benefit at the end. Once the Dutchman had stopped and fitted the soft tyres, he seemed like a man possessed as he reeled in Bottas, the one man not in traffic, with ease, giving Mercedes a real headache at the end of the race.

It was a great drive from Verstappen for the most part as he shows what he is capable of when the car is reliable and somewhere near the ultimate pace, it’s just a shame that his pace was rewarded with a close fifth when a first podium since China was on. Ultimately though, it was Red Bull’s qualifying pace that cost them a shot at victory.

Supersub di Resta does all he can

Paul di Resta, Williams Martini Racing: Started 19th, Retired

At the hands of anyone, Paul di Resta’s performance in Hungary would have been forgettable but it’s difficult to comprehend how difficult a task he had on his hands from Saturday afternoon onwards. The Scot had no experience in the car at all, and barely any in a hybrid power car going into qualifying, without even practice to get a baseline.

Ironically the last time Felipe Massa was replaced, by Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella in 2009, is the best baseline to judge di Resta against. They were miles off teammate Räikkönen’s pace and both had far more experience in at least comparable cars.

Paul di Resta’s performance in Hungary would have been forgettable but it’s difficult to comprehend how difficult a task he had on his hands
Credit: Zak Mauger/Williams

Di Resta had experience in the 2014 Williams alongside simulator work and that was it. His progression during Q1 was huge and he was able to split the Saubers, with Stroll only one row ahead. The race was a similar story, a massive learning curve as the Scot continued to split the Saubers despite an understandably cautious start. He ran ahead of Wehrlein for the first half of the race and then an oil leak curtailed his return 10 laps early. There were so many things that di Resta had no experience of before Saturday but he showed what a professional he is. Who knows, did he prove himself as Massa’s long-term replacement?