It was a disastrous day for Max Verstappen, who watched on helplessly as his lead in the 2021 championship slipped from his grasp at the Hungaroring after an opening lap crash with Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas.
Sergio Perez was also involved in the crash, and was a DNF for the race, which has now also handed the ascendency to Mercedes in the fight for the Constructor’s Championship.
“It was all out of our hands in the race and I can’t believe I got taken out for the second week running. The mechanics did what they could to get me back in the race but I was carrying a lot of damage on the car after the incident and it was super difficult to drive with, there was a lot of oversteer and understeer from the downforce loss. Of course it’s really disappointing to only score one point but on the other hand I was incredibly lucky to continue after the crash so it was a surprise to score a point at all which is still important. We have the summer break now but we keep pushing, we will never give up and we will focus on ourselves. We’ve had two very unlucky races but nothing is lost, it’s still a very long season. Congratulations to Esteban too, you can see that he is super happy and I’m sure many more race wins will follow.”
“I don’t know what to say but it is unbelievable to be hit like that at Turn 1 and a massive blow for us as a Team. I got a good start and was up to third and it is such a shame because I think we had a good opportunity in those conditions, but there was nothing I could do. I have watched the replays as it was hard to understand exactly what happened behind me from inside the car and I just knew I got a big hit. Bottas made a big mistake and braked too late into Turn 1 which took out a lot of cars, including me and caused bad damage to Max’s car. He came to me and apologised as he knew it was his mistake, and although it was not on purpose and is how racing goes sometimes, it doesn’t make a difference to the result for us right now as the large amount of damage ended our race and opportunity for points.”
“It is obviously an enormously frustrating way to end the weekend but we are within 10 points of first place in the championship going into the summer break which means it’s all to play for. Unfortunately, Bottas braking late into Turn 1 eliminated both of our cars, Checo was immediately forced to retire and the substantial amount of damage to the right hand side of Max’s car meant he had no chance of fighting at the front. Full credit once again has to go to our mechanics who worked wonders to get Max’s car back out for the race. The temperatures were off the scale and they had to straighten pipes and fix the right side as much as possible in very limited time, before nailing the fastest pit stop once again, which is quite remarkable. It is also disappointing not to have seen what Checo had in store today as his start was impressive and he felt very confident in the car and his race pace. Max fought hard, despite the extensive damage and downforce losses, securing one point which could prove vital at the end of the year. There is no doubt that this has cost us a lot today, financially in a cost cap world, points wise and for Honda who now need to understand whether Checo’s engine is salvageable, but there are many positives to take into the summer break. We have achieved six victories with the most competitive chassis and power unit package we have had for years and the whole team is fully motivated. We will take a few weeks off, recharge and come out fighting for the second half of this championship. We have experienced close title battles like this before and we are not giving up anything. The points difference between the top two in both championships is still very small, it will be an epic second half to this year and we are ready for it.”