Saturday in Budapest began with two news: Red Bull confirms Verstappen’s engine that was involved in the huge crash at Silverstone and will continue the weekend with that unit while Ferrari broke the curfew in the evening for extra work on the power unit of Carlos Sainz who gave unclear signals on certain parameters and it was therefore decided to send the engine back in Maranello for further checks, mounting the Spec 3 on the Spaniard’s SF21 instead.
During the night the circuit was hit by rain, but the temperatures in Budapest are quickly rising again with the sun shining and heating the asphalt of the Hungaroring. In the third free practice session Ferrari will tried a setup with more downforce given the problems encountered yesterday, especially in the management of the circuit’s high temperatures.
In the end we saw a qualifying session with Mercedes dominating and conquering the front row, behind them the two Red Bull cars that, however, have always given the feeling of having something less during this weekend: Sergio Perez risked losing his fourth position with an imperfect first lap and the impossibility of making the second attempt, having caught the flag when crossing the finish line.
Max Verstappen complained about a car changed a lot, even today he spoke of unstable rear, while Mercedes seemed without problems.
RedBull has perhaps suffered a bit from the issues that Ferrari also accused: as the minutes passed, the Ferrari drivers felt their SF21 change. A snap to the rear, due to a gust of wind, and a car that gave the drivers less safety in that area of the car, due to the wind, led Carlos Sainz to a bad mistake that eliminated him in Q2, while Charles Leclerc did not manahe to go beyond the 7th position, with a gap of only 78 thousandths from Sergio Perez’s time, which was enough for P4. Between him and the second Red Bull there is an extraordinary Pierre Gasly who squeezes his Alpha Tauri and Lando Norris who brings home a great result as always, once again beating Daniel Ricciardo who remained outside the top ten for a few thousandths in Q2. Ocon beats Alonso, with Alpine enjoying a double Q3 appearance, placing itself ahead of Sebastian Vettel by 1 tenth with the Frenchman and by 35 thousandths with the former Ferrari driver.
Tomorrow we will see an aggressive Red Bull that has decided to start with the Soft, while the front row – all Mercedes – will be starting with Medium tires.
Behind up to the 10th position of Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin, all will use the Softs for the first stint and then move on to the drivers with a choice of free compounds that could mix the cards on the table.
Carlos Sainz is also expected to make a comeback and exploit the potential of his SF21 car, as well as Charles who will have to try to overtake McLaren and Alpha Tauri ahead of him for the constructors’ fight.
Temperatures will be an important factor, along with the wind, which have been mixing the values on the track a lot over the weekend. Between morning and afternoon, with the asphalt ranging from 50 to 60 degrees, we saw different values expressed by the cars.