Mark finished an eventful Hungarian Grand Prix in fifth place. However, his chances of a fifth consecutive podium ended late in the race when he was forced to make an extra pit stop for dry tyres after a heavy rain shower failed to materialise.
“When it started to rain with 20 laps to go,” says Mark, “I pitted for intermediate tyres. Everyone was skidding around in front of me at the entrance to the pit lane, so I made the call to pit. It didn’t work out because the heavier rain didn’t come and I had to pit for dries a couple of laps later, but I wanted to roll the dice.”
Until that point Mark had been ahead of Fernando Alonso, who finished third.
All of the cars started the race on intermediate tyres, following a pre-race rain shower. The racing line dried quickly, however, and Mark was the first driver to pit for slicks on lap 10.
“The rain cleaned both sides of the grid,” says Mark, “but the clean side still had an advantage. The asphalt was still pretty slippery where I was and I lost a couple of positions away from the line. The Mercedes’ were very quick out of the blocks.
“The cross-over point to slicks was a difficult call, but we got it absolutely right. I was immediately fastest in sectors two and three, yet some drivers stayed out for two more laps. That gained me a lot of time and moved me from sixth to fourth.”
Lewis Hamilton was another driver to make the call for intermediates late in the race. He emerged from the pits just behind Mark and they traded lap times for the next six laps, until they caught a gaggle of six slower cars.
“I caught the cars at just the wrong point on the track,” says Mark. “The closing speed was massive; it was like they were in a Formula Ford race and we were upon them very quickly. Lewis found a way through and I pushed him all the way home.”
Mark heads from Budapest to Salzburg, where he has some work to do for Red Bull before starting his summer break on Wednesday.
“Everyone in the team deserves this break,” says Mark. “I’ll take a few days off and enjoy a few glasses of red, but the training will start again after not too long. I’ll be doing some cycling in the French Alps as well, which I’m looking forward to.
“It’s fantastic to know that the next race on the calendar is at Spa-Francorchamps. All of the drivers look forward to that place and I’ll be doing my best to win. A victory is going to come when we least expect it.”