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F1 takes break with plenty to ponder for Ferrari


Fernando Alonso's move to Aston Martin to replace retiring Sebastian Vettel next year was the focus of interest in Formula One after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Here AFP looks at five talking points as the world championship heads into its annual summer holiday shutdown.

Team boss MattiaBinotto faced increasing pressure on Monday after Sunday's flop as Ferrari started the Hungarian Grand Prix second and third, with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, but finished fourth and sixth.

World champion Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez went from 10th and 11th to first and fifth with a comprehensive demonstration of smart team-work and strategy.

The Mercedes recovery after a dismal and bumpy start to the season has revived seven-time champion, Lewis Hamilton, not only rekindling his belief he will secure a 104th career victory this year, but also energising him for a bid for a record eighth drivers' title. The 37-year-old Briton's run of five consecutive podium finishes, including two successive seconds, has confirmed the team are back as a competitive – if not yet winning – force. Hamilton said: "For sure, if we take this pace into the second half of the season, we can start to fight those other guys!"

Fernando Alonso's swift move to take Sebastian Vettel's seat has triggered 'silly season' speculation forecasting more action in the driver market for 2023.

The first vacancy to fill will be at Alpine. Reserve driver Oscar Piastri, winner of the 2020 Formula Three and 2021 Formula Two titles, is an obvious candidate. The Australian, managed by former Red Bull driver and compatriot Mark Webber, is regarded as a major talent.

While the drivers take to the European beaches for their vacations, many teams will keep working on solutions to the 'porpoising' and bouncing problems that have affected many cars this season.

The ruling body the FIA is scheduled to introduce measures to control the problem and safeguard drivers starting from the Belgian Grand Prix, but some teams, notably Red Bull, remain opposed to any changes affecting the 'ground effect' formula introduced this season.

Red Bull have designed a car that is less prone to porpoising and have reaped the reward in results. Team boss Christian Horner has warned of rifts in the paddock and pitlane if new rules are introduced mid-season.

Abusive behaviour from fans at races and on social media has prompted a response by Formula One.

It launched a 'Drive it Out' campaign  on Saturday, but there were continued reports of abusive behaviour and filmed reports on social media showing Max Verstappen fans allegedly burning Lewis Hamilton merchandise at the Hungaroring.

"It is not acceptable," sad the 24-year-old Dutchman. "I definitely don't agree with that because it's disgusting."

The recent incidents in Austria and Hungary follow others when fans cheered drivers crashing their cars or generally booed or abused them.


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