The positive atmosphere surrounding Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes after claiming Pole Position was short-lived, with the limitations of the W14 (already well documented across F1 news outlets) showing itself again in race trim.
A slow start saw Verstappen pass the 7-time Chamoion into turn one, before shuffling down behind the McLaren pairing of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.
Hamilton’s pace varied across different tyre compounds, with a late charge on the mediums falling just short of overtaking Sergio Pérez for a podium place.
However, as has been the case for the last two seasons, Max Verstappen and his RB19 are the reference point. Once again, the Silver Arrows had no answer for the Dutchman on Sunday.
Mercedes have taken a reasonable step forward thanks to their Silverstone front wing update, which improved the performance of the W14 in low-speed corners.
Unfortunately for the Brackley squad, yet another customer team – this time, McLaren – has made enough progress to challenge and even outperform them.
More significant changes are due to arrive on the 2024 challenger, but the current trajectory at the German constructor must be improved to overturn Red Bull’s advantage.
Speaking to the media post-race, Hamilton was candid about his difficulties at the Hungaroring:
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t have the pace to hold onto those guys [Red Bull and McLaren] anyway.
“Honestly, there wasn’t a lap that I enjoyed driving the car today, because the car didn’t feel good today at all.
“For some reason, we just generally lacked pace.
“It did get better towards the end, but still it was pretty tough.
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch Sergio, or at least a Red Bull, because they’re obviously so quick.
“You live and you learn. Yesterday was a good day and we’ll take the positives. But we’re a long shot away from winning at the moment.”
Development will largely shift towards next year’s cars over the summer, so Mercedes can take some positives from not significantly regressing amidst their switch to a new concept.
A main concern for supporters of the Brackley squad, amongst other things, will be the uncertainty of the W15’s performance.
The likes of McLaren and Red Bull have established concepts to build upon, whilst Mercedes are tasked with making significant improvements amidst a more radical evolution of their package.
F1 News sources will almost certainly speculate and analyse over the winter, but after a difficult two years, only the stopwatch can determine success or failure at Brackley.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang