Checo Pérez’s car at the Hungarian Grand Prix Darko Bandic (AP)
Checo Pérez will go into the holiday break with the umpteenth comeback, but this time it wasn’t enough. Starting from eleventh on the grid, the Mexican finished fifth at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Verstappen won the race and established himself as the championship leader, followed by Mercedes’ Hamilton and Russell. Red Bull celebrated to stay top of the World Championship with 396 points compared to 314 for an unpredictable Ferrari.
The standings didn’t help Pérez to have a good Sunday as he failed to qualify for the final lap and had to start from eleventh place. Verstappen also struggled and started a place in front of the Mexican. This Sunday was all about climbing positions and getting lucky. Checo Pérez charged hard enough to move up a few places on the first lap, but a re-meet with Verstappen failed to target more than ninth place.
The Mexican’s Red Bull went into predator mode to be able to overtake Fernando Alonso on lap seven and Esteban Ocon, his former Force India teammate, by lap nine. The hardest part was yet to come. In front of him was Lando Norris, McLaren’s chosen one, trying not to be overtaken by Hamilton, and in the blink of an eye three drivers overtook him: Mercedes, Verstappen and Pérez.
From the Red Bull garage, they challenged Checo Pérez to pit to find a break for the car on lap 19. The Mexican dropped to tenth position and the comeback began again for the Mexican who wanted to finish in the top five. In lap 24, the one from Guadalajara was already sixth. In front was a Hamilton who gave him no hope of being overtaken.
The Mexican once again demonstrated his ability to think about the team rather than his priorities as he passed a flying Verstappen looking to overtake Leclerc. The Dutchman made it but lost that a few kilometers later by losing control of the car with 30 laps to go. The Mexican changed tires again on lap 43 and stayed in sixth place. A poor strategy by Leclerc, another of the season at Ferrari, saw the Mexican move up a position. A fifth place that helps Red Bull widen the gap to Ferrari. There was no big surprise for the Latin American, although he managed to recover from a few days of training that were an ordeal. Verstappen, ahead of Leclerc with 258 points compared to 178, five points more than Pérez. They are followed by Russell with 158 and Sainz with 156.
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