Another F1 race in 2023 is in the books, as is another Max Verstappen and Red Bull win.
It was a historic moment for the Dutchman, as he won his seventh consecutive race and helped not only himself, but Red Bull, create more history in 2023.
And while we’ll learn more about that shortly, there is one key question when it comes to Australia and F1 right now: why do McLaren seemingly have a thing against us Aussies?
Intrigued? Read on.
McLaren v Australia
Another race, another McLaren resurgence. If you’re a fan of the papaya team, you’re loving life right now. However if you’re an Aussie fan of McLaren, perhaps it’s time to think of a bit of a conspiracy.
Oscar Piastri put in another fine performance all weekend, highlighted by his stunning start which saw him leap from fourth to second after overtaking both Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris into turn 1 on the opening lap.
That second place wasn’t to last, with the Melbourne driver eventually finishing the race in fifth. This seemingly came about due to an interesting McLaren strategy call which gave preference to Norris in the first round of pitstops as the team attempted to undercut the Mercedes of Hamilton who pitted on lap 16.
(Photo by Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
On lap 17 it was expected that second-placed Piastri would pit in reaction to Hamilton’s stop, but instead it was Norris who got preference, a preference that saw him leapfrog Piastri and eventually finish in second for the second race in a row.
The question remains just why McLaren would still give Norris preference given Piastri had put himself in a strong position that surely would’ve seen him finish runner-up to Verstappen instead of Norris.
And after two years where McLaren showed some questionable strategic calls against Aussie Daniel Ricciardo during his time at the team, there definitely has to be some tin foil hats put on as to whether McLaren has it in for the land down under.
Let’s not forget this team was founded by a Kiwi, clearly showing this conspiracy is accurate. But all jokes aside, the decision was made due to McLaren claiming Norris was “more at risk” from Hamilton during the first stint and needed to be able to cover him off.
A superb set of laps from Norris after his stop easily undercut Piastri, who then had to deal with the faster cars of Hamilton and the Red Bull of Sergio Perez in the latter stages of the race which saw him once again miss out on his maiden podium finish.
So while there was a genuine excuse given, let’s just play the conspiracy card for now okay?
Ricciardo delivers on his return
Speaking of Daniel Ricciardo, the loveable Aussie did everything he needed to do on his return to the sport in Hungary.
Ricciardo qualified 13th and could’ve landed a sneaky point had it not been for a first corner incident involving the two Alpine drivers and the Alfa Romeo of Guanyu Zhou. Having been shunted by Zhou and colliding with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, Ricciardo changed up his strategy to allow less time on the hards to run long on the mediums, allowing him to overtake several cars to finish where he started in 13th.
The most impressive thing for Ricciardo is that when it counted he finished ahead of AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda, and also kept Red Bull’s Sergio Perez on his toes through most of the weekend. If he wishes to elevate himself into the senior Red Bull team, he’ll need more weekends like this.
So far so good for Dan.
The Verstappen and Red Bull love story with the record books continues
There are many great romance stories spread through history, but right now the one everyone is talking about is Red Bull, Max Verstappen and history books.
With Red Bull winning in Hungary they created history by winning 12 races in a row, the first team in Formula 1 to do so. They also equaled McLaren’s record of 11 consecutive race wins in a row from the start of the season.
For Verstappen, it was his seventh win in a row, joining Sebastian Vettel, Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg as the only drivers in the history of the sport to achieve that feat.
Should Verstappen win in Belgium this weekend, he’ll join Sebastian Vettel as the only driver to win eight consecutive races, while Red Bull will be the first team ever to win the opening 12 rounds of a season.
And given we are now officially at the halfway point of the season, that 100% race win record is getting ever closer and closer for Red Bull.
(Photo by Clive Mason – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Hamilton hasn’t lost a thing
It was a joyous moment for Lewis Hamilton fans on Saturday when he stormed his way to a stunning pole position.
It was his first pole in nearly two years and showcased that the seven time World Champion still has it in him to pull off an incredible result when it counts.
And while he fell back to fourth on race day, it was a clear sign that he hasn’t lost any of his skill or talent through the last year or so being back in the pack.
If anything, a period like this will only increase the legacy of Hamilton. Given he has never (until now) had a non-competitive car in his F1 career, he can truly showcase his talent and pull the most out of a car when it matters most.
His pole position on Saturday was a clear example of that, and one that should surely encourage him to stick around a bit longer and push towards that eighth World Championship he so desperately craves.
Stroll once again avoids praise when due
A quick final note to give some props to the one driver on the grid who never gets any, Lance Stroll.
On a difficult weekend for Aston Martin when they continued to drop back from the pace they have been showing all season, Stroll was able to put in an extremely strong performance on race day to show that once again he is far more than simply the son of a team owner.
Starting 14th, Stroll made another of his famous great starts to vault up the field, eventually finishing the race in the points in 10th.
What made it even more impressive is that he finished one spot behind teammate Fernando Alonso, who started the race six places higher than Stroll in eighth.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to showcase “my infatuation with Stroll”, but when nobody else is voicing something that needs to be said, I’m glad to be the one who does so.
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here