London, Aug 5: After a thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix, it is time for the Formula One teams to take a well-earned break.
Lewis Hamilton's victory in Budapest further strengthened his grip on top spot in the standings, putting him on course to claim a third successive world title and the sixth of his F1 career.
However, Max Verstappen's performances in the previous two races offer hope that we may still get some sort of title race, with Red Bull and Ferrari desperately hoping to close the gap on the outstanding Mercedes.
The mid-season pause in proceedings allows the teams a chance to take stock and assess their season so far. With that in mind, we have graded their performances to date.
Hamilton's success in Hungary was his eighth triumph in 2019. The Briton has 250 points for the season and continues to set a high bar in terms of driving standards. Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel share the record for most wins in a season (13), so the reigning champion may end up more focused on setting new benchmarks than coping with his rivals on the grid. As for team-mate Valtteri Bottas, he may sit second in the standings but his future with the team was a major talking point heading into the break. Reserve driver Esteban Ocon is waiting in the wings for an opportunity in 2020.
Grade: A. Do not let standards slip – and work out who you want to sit with next year. FERRARI
It has been an eventful and inconsistent campaign for Ferrari, who can no longer see Mercedes in the distance when it comes to the constructors' title and instead are looking over their shoulder at an in-form Red Bull catching them for second place. They have failed to win a race so far and have, at times, appeared unwilling to admit the highly promising Charles Leclerc is the (prancing) horse to back ahead of experienced campaigner Vettel. The break will allow time to try to work out what they need to do to become competitive on all circuits again.
Grade: D. Must try harder if results are to improve.
Does the break help or hinder Red Bull? Verstappen's performances in contrasting conditions in Germany – where he emerged triumphant at the end of a chaotic race – and Hungary suggest the car is in good shape, despite being unable to hold off a fast-finishing Hamilton at the Hungaroring. The Dutchman – so often backed by fanatical and colourful support in the crowd at European races – has dazzled, but the same cannot be said for colleague Pierre Gasly, who has registered just 63 points and has failed to record a podium finish.
Grade: B. Max effort required from all involved from now on.
Eight-time winners of the constructors' title, McLaren have made strides in the first half of the year, even if neither of their drivers are yet creating much of a ripple when it comes to actually winning a race. Still, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr have impressed, the latter finishing in the points in eight races. While a trio of retirements have hampered Norris, the British teenager will have learned plenty in the opening months of his F1 career.
Grade: B+. Good signs so far - keep it up!
The only team outside of the top three to earn a spot on the podium this season. That came in Germany, where Daniil Kvyat earned some redemption. After being dropped by Red Bull and then losing his seat at Toro Rosso before returning this year, he is now being linked with a return to his previous team. Rookie Alex Albon has often found himself in the hunt for points and the pair enjoyed an entertaining tussle at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with good clean racing helping to keep them in the midfield battle.
Grade: C. Keep pushing and beware of envious siblings.
Yet to register a podium finish and out-performed by McLaren, things have not gone to plan. Technical issues have hampered their progress, but this is not what Daniel Ricciardo expected following his arrival. The Australian, along with Nico Hulkenberg, has barely figured at the head of the field. In something of an understatement, team principal Cyril Abiteboul admitted following Hungary that the first half of the year was "well below" their objectives. You don't say, Cyril...
Grade: F. See teacher for extra homework.
Not much was expected following Alfa Romeo's return to F1, but Kimi Raikkonen has done his utmost to keep them relevant. Former world champion Raikkonen has amassed a respectable 31 points, though team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi has been unable to match such assured displays. They need the 25-year-old Italian to start picking up points, and he may want to do so for the benefit of his own career, too.
Grade: D. Work better as a team.
Having made a strong start after the takeover in the middle of last season, Racing Point appear to have taken a backwards step in 2019. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll – whose father purchased the team – have been distinctly average and lacked consistency, the Canadian scoring their only points in the past eight races with top-10 finishes at Montreal and Hockenheim.
Grade: E. Do not rely on your parents for help.
After improvements each year since joining the grid in 2016, Haas have been unable to maintain the momentum. Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean have both taken points at the same race just twice this season, though the main cause for concern will be the seven retirements in the first half of the campaign.
Grade: E. Be more reliable.
This season can already be considered a write-off for Williams. They struggled to even get a car ready for pre-season testing and have had to start from the back of the grid, more often than not due to a lack of pace. Robert Kubica scored their only point in Germany but George Russell remains on zero.
Grade: F. Prepare for re-sits next year!