Lewis Hamilton’s ‘solitary’ start after the red flag displayed at the Hungaroring is an image that everyone will carry from last weekend. The Briton, unlike all the other riders who mounted slicks, did not change the tires at the end of the formation lap. And he paid the consequences: the Hungarian track dried very quickly and the intermediates guaranteed less performance than the slicks, so Hamilton essentially wasted time entering the pits a lap later. But if he stopped immediately, would anything change? Yes, but maybe not much. Because the Mercedes garage would have had to change the tires and also wait for all the other drivers to scroll so as not to incur penalties for unsafe release.
The others came out in this order: Russell, Ocon, Vettel, Latifi, Tsunoda, Sainz, Alonso, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Gasly, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Giovinazzi (delayed for the Raikkonen pit stop and theunsafe release of the latter on Mazepin). In general, in these situations, therefore, the deeper the pit area is, the better it is for the driver. It is difficult to predict how he would get out of the pit lane: Mercedes estimates between sixth and ninth position, and Hamilton would have had to recover at least from the middle of the grid, if not from the margin of the points-zone. “Given the position we were in at the restart, we didn’t particularly want to bet on slick tires, but we were surprised when the whole grid started with the intermediates. It was even more surprising to see them all in the pits on the formation lapSaid Chief Track Engineer Andrew Shovlin. “This was one of the key moments of the race for us, even if we wouldn’t have been leading the restart because having the first box means that all the riders coming behind prevent you from getting out. Recovering from last position was clearly a huge challenge for Lewis and getting to third place took all the energy he had in his body.“.
In the rosiest of expectations (sixth place), Hamilton would come out behind Tsunoda, which on the track he overcame in a short time. But if he started ninth, the seven-time world champion would have been behind Alonso, which in the real race kept him behind for ten laps even though with a compound disadvantage and with older tires. In short, Hamilton would have had more laps available to aim for the big target, but also had to face the usual problems to overcome those in front of him.