AlphaTauri Leads Honda F1 Fortunes in Hungary

  • Red Bull Racing Hondas wrecked in Lap 1 for second straight race
  • Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda match season-best results
  • Gasly runs fastest lap of the race

The Red Bull Racing Hondas had a promising race scuttled in the first turn for the second consecutive F1 weekend, but the Scuderia AlphaTauri duo of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda picked up the Honda flag in Sunday's Hungarian GP.

Both AlphaTauri drivers matched 2021 season highs as Gasly turned a fifth-place starting spot into a sixth-place finish. His teammate Tsunoda gained 11 spots in the opening-lap melee and also tied a season-best result by finishing seventh. Gasly also helped his Honda-powered Red Bull brethren by running the fastest lap of the race and wresting a point from new championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Max Verstappen, who came into the weekend with an eight-point lead in the standings, and Sergio Perez started third and fourth behind the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. The Red Bull teammates moved quickly to second and third and were poised to challenge for the lead when Bottas triggered a crash that eliminated four cars, including Perez, and pushed Verstappen off track and down to 13th.

Tsunoda stayed on the inside of the first turn and eluded the carnage to vault into 5th, and the Japanese rookie made the move stick as he ran in the top seven for the rest of the day. Gasly initially fell back to 12th after the crash and accompanying Safety Car period, but stretched his first tire stint to 30 laps to gain valuable track position and climb back into the points chase.

On the Red Bull side, Verstappen's stablemates were able to return him to the fight, albeit in a car that was aerodynamically compromised by the damage. The Dutchman fought back through two pit stops and was able to pass Daniel Ricciardo with less than 10 laps to go to claim the 10th spot and secure a vital championship point.

The second-straight week of calamity for Verstappen dropped the Honda driver to second place in the championship, six points behind defending series champion Hamilton. The finish, combined with a second-consecutive scoreless outing from Perez, saw the Honda-powered Red Bull team yield the lead in the Constructors' Championship, trailing Mercedes by 10 points. The Formula 1 teams will take their summer break, using the next four weeks to regroup before the August 29 Belgian GP, which takes place at the famed Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Technical Director, Honda F1
For the second consecutive race, we lost the chance to compete at the front with Red Bull Racing Honda, through no fault of our own. It is hugely frustrating. Checo (Perez) suffered too much damage to continue in the first corner incident and Max's car was also very badly damaged. But the mechanics did a fantastic job during the red flag period and so he was able to continue and also push the car hard, although it was still damaged. Both Scuderia AlphaTauri drivers did a good job of avoiding the chaos after the start and raced on patiently. Pierre finished sixth while Yuki was seventh, equaling their best results so far this year. The team has slipped down the order in the Constructors' classification, but both drivers did a solid job to bring back a good points haul including Pierre's point for fastest lap. This will be important for our mid field battle in the second half of the season. It's a shame we have not finished the first half on a high note, but we will now pause briefly to return refreshed,  getting back to work, analyzing everything from the first part of the season, being even more motivated to keep fighting for the title and more wins. Finally, congratulations to Esteban Ocon and Alpine on taking their first F1 win."

Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing Honda
Start 3rd, Finish: 10th
"It was all out of our hands in the race and I can't believe I got taken out for the second week running. The mechanics did what they could to get me back in the race but I was carrying a lot of damage on the car after the incident and it was super difficult to drive with, there was a lot of oversteer and understeer from the downforce loss. Of course it's really disappointing to only score one point but on the other hand I was incredibly lucky to continue after the crash so it was a surprise to score a point at all. We have the summer break now but we keep pushing. We've had two very unlucky races but nothing is lost, it's still a very long season. Congratulations to Esteban too, you can see that he is super happy and I'm sure many more race wins will follow."

Sergio Perez - Red Bull Racing Honda
Start: 4th, Finish: DNF
"I don't know what to say but it is unbelievable to be hit like that at Turn 1 and a massive blow for us as a Team. I got a good start and was up to third and it is such a shame because I think we had a good opportunity in those conditions, but there was nothing I could do. Bottas made a big mistake and braked too late into Turn 1 which took out a lot of cars, including me and caused bad damage to Max's car. He came to me and apologized as he knew it was his mistake, and although it was not on purpose and is how racing goes sometimes, it doesn't make a difference to the result for us right now as the large amount of damage ended our race and opportunity for points."

Pierre Gasly - Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 5th, Finish: 6th
"To be honest, I don't really know what to think. We started P5, which is probably the best position we can hope for, but then I was almost taken out in the first corner incident and had to make my way back through the field to finish in P6. It's good obviously to be finishing where we did, with everything that happened in the race, but I think it definitely could've been better. We were best of the rest in (qualifying) and I was happy with the car, so there's lots of positives to takeaway from this weekend but obviously we've lost a lot of points in the Championship which is disappointing. However, I think we've come away with the best possible outcome given today's circumstances. A big congrats to Esteban for the win – I think they did the right thing with the strategy and he deserves it."

Yuki Tsunoda - Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 16th, Finish: 7th
"After the first lap I managed to jump up to P5, which I was really pleased with. I've really struggled with the car the whole weekend, but the pace was ok during the race and I managed to bring home some good points for the team today. For me, this has been a really difficult weekend, up until the race, so I need to go away, reset over the summer break and look at what I need to work on ahead of Spa, so I can continue to consistently score points in the second half of the season."