Hamilton’s Hungary pole victory highlights unpredictability of F1 ground-effect cars

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Hamilton triumphed over world championship frontrunner Max Verstappen, securing the prime position on the grid at the Hungaroring and putting an end to the Dutch racer’s impressive streak of five consecutive pole victories.

Despite Mercedes grappling with car balance issues throughout the season and harbouring modest expectations for this weekend’s race, Hamilton’s surprise achievement once again underlines the complexity of understanding the 2023 ground-effect cars.

Reflecting on the qualifying session, which saw Alfa Romeo achieve its highest grid positions in many years, Wolff pointed to the Hungary results as the newest evidence that the set-up adjustments needed for the current vehicles make outcomes nearly impossible to predict.

“There’s no denying that these ground-effect cars are a mystery,” commented Wolff.

“All teams seem to experience fluctuating performances – and well done to Alfa: they’ve landed fifth and seventh on the grid. I don’t believe they entirely comprehend how they achieved that.

“Red Bull appears to be the only team that has truly deciphered the secret, perhaps McLaren too.

“But this is not something that can be reverse-engineered. It demands continuous effort and coming to the right conclusions.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, sharing his thoughts on stage

Photo by: Andy Hone / F1 Flow Images

Wolff is of the view that a key factor in Hamilton’s first pole victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was that the W14 finally provided him with some confidence.

“The primary issue with our car isn’t a lack of downforce,” declared Wolff. “It’s its unpredictability.

“Our drivers have never been fully confident in pushing the car to its limits during qualifying, and I believe today’s car gave them the assurance to do so without worrying about losing control on corners.

“This, I think, is the main aspect we need to focus on – providing them with a car balance that’s simply more reliable.”

Russell’s misstep

While Hamilton clinched the pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix, George Russell ended a disappointing 18th on the grid, failing to advance past Q1.

Wolff conceded that Mercedes was to blame for the situation, as Russell was placed in heavy traffic ahead of his attempts to progress out of the session.

“I think Q1 was generally chaotic, not just for us, but for many others,” he observed.

“There were simply too many cars on a single stretch of track, and we put him in a disadvantageous position. His first run was already hindered.

“Everyone crowding in the final corner was far from ideal, and then the absence of any consensus among drivers further complicated matters, as he was overtaken by three cars between Turn 13 and Turn 14.

“That completely ruined his last lap, but we have to shoulder the blame for not positioning him better.”

Read Also:
Unraveling how Hamilton outperformed Verstappen for Hungary F1 pole via GPS data
Russell: “We made a significant blunder” in Hungary F1 qualifying
What Perez’s crash disclosed about Red Bull’s F1 floor modifications

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about
Hamilton’s Hungary pole victory

Who won the pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Lewis Hamilton secured the pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

What ended Max Verstappen’s five-race run of pole positions?

Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix ended Max Verstappen’s five-race run of pole positions.

What are the challenges Mercedes has been facing this season?

Mercedes has been struggling with issues related to car balance throughout the season, making the performance of their 2023 ground-effect cars unpredictable.

What position did Alfa Romeo secure on the grid?

Alfa Romeo secured its best grid positions in many years, landing fifth and seventh on the grid.

What was the key factor in Hamilton’s first pole victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix according to Toto Wolff?

According to Toto Wolff, the key factor was that the W14 car finally provided Hamilton with some confidence.

What position did George Russell finish in the qualifying round?

George Russell finished in a disappointing 18th position on the grid after failing to advance past Q1.

Who does Wolff believe has a good understanding of the 2023 ground-effect cars?

Wolff believes that Red Bull and possibly McLaren have a good understanding of the 2023 ground-effect cars.

More about
Hamilton’s Hungary pole victory

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Speedster_Sue July 23, 2023 - 12:29 pm

Seems like ground-effect cars have turned the season into a real enigma. Like, who knows what’s gonna happen next? Exciting and nerve-wracking all at once!

F1Fanatic84 July 23, 2023 - 2:57 pm

Whoo! Go Hamilton! Knew he had it in him to beat Verstappen’s streak. Ground-effect cars or not, he’s got the skill!

HamiltonRoxx July 23, 2023 - 3:56 pm

Finally, a pole for Hamilton! Been waiting since the Saudi Arabian GP in 2021. this is a good sign, right?

RussellRacer July 23, 2023 - 7:16 pm

feel bad for Russell. He’s got talent, but the traffic messed up his run. better luck next time, George.

VerstappenFan July 24, 2023 - 1:58 am

It’s just one race, F1Fanatic84. Max will bounce back, I bet ya. Ground effect cars are tricky, even Wolff admitted it…

GearheadGary July 24, 2023 - 4:14 am

Whoa, didn’t expect Alfa to climb up the grid so fast. Do they really not understand where their performance boost came from? Seems strange.

MercedesLoyalist July 24, 2023 - 8:26 am

Tough season for Mercedes so far, huh? Hope they figure out the balance issues soon. F1 is no fun without a real fight for the championship.


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