The Hungarian Grand Prix certainly didn’t go the way Max Verstappen wanted, as the Dutchman was punted off in the first corner by a hydroplaning Valtteri Bottas and forced to spend the rest of the afternoon managing a chassis with severe damage.
How severe? If you caught the “passenger” side of Verstappen’s car during the race, you likely already know. If you didn’t, this single photo captured after the checkered flag and shared to Reddit pretty much says it all.
Verstappen called the car “almost impossible to drive” in a post-race interview. I’ve never driven an open-wheeler let alone a Formula 1 car, but I am wincing imagining how erratically a vehicle so reliant on downforce must handle with an entire side’s worth of barge board and floor chewed off.
Red Bull’s crew lopped off the loose parts during the red flag period, leaving the car in the mangled, hobbled state seen above. Verstappen had to drive like this for 70 laps as teammate Sergio Perez watched from the pit wall, his car taken out in the very same Turn 1 scuffle.
If you were wondering, then, why Verstappen could manage no better than ninth while Lewis Hamilton fought all the way back from last to third place, there’s your reason. In fact, it’s remarkable Verstappen was able to wrestle that car so high up the order to begin with, and it once again speaks to his sheer ability.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner thanked his mechanics for getting the car to the most ideal working state the team could hope for, in spite of having so little time to address the damage. From F1.com:
“I have to say the mechanics worked wonders getting that car working again,” added Horner, “just getting some of the pipes straightened on it was an incredible response. But hugely frustrating obviously.
“It’s brutal for us, but I think the team did well to get that car back out there, they nailed the fastest stop, Max fought for that one point [which later became two when Sebatian Vettel was disqualified], and that could prove vital at the end of the year.”
He also threw barbs — arguably deserved — at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas and Toto Wolff, because far be it from Christian Horner to ever pass up that opportunity:
Asked if Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff had apologised to him, Horner replied with a chuckle: “Is he going to pay the bill?”
He added: “Look, it’s racing, you know? Toto wasn’t driving the car, his driver was driving the car. I’m sure he didn’t tell him, ‘Crash into Red Bull.’ I’m sure he wasn’t that sorry to see the result, but I’m sure he didn’t tell Valtteri to do that.
In light of Helmut Marko’s recent comments and that bizarre Hail Mary to somehow strip Hamilton of his British GP win by having Alex Albon lap Silverstone in a two-year-old car, the great thing about Red Bull in 2021 is I honestly have no idea what they believe anymore.