This weekend’s Hungarian GP at the Hungaroring is the last race before the F1 circus goes off into the summer break. Sebastian Vettel leads the drivers’ championship standings by just 1 point from Hamilton, with Bottas 23 points adrift in 3rd place. The momentum, though is with Mercedes with them having won 3 of the last 4 races.
The race takes place at the Hungaroring. It is a twisty and bumpy track where overtaking is very difficult. It’s the scene of maiden wins for many current and former F1 drivers – Fernando Alonso in 2003, Jenson Button in 2006, and Heikki Kovalinen in 2008. Daniel Ricciardo won his second ever race here in 2014, while Vettel won his second race with Ferrari in 2015.
Infamously, the track was also the scene of Felipe Massa’s horrific crash in 2009 after the front wing from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP car came crashing onto his skull, which left him in a coma with a fractured skull. He would however make a sensational return to the sport in 2010 with Ferrari, but was undoubtedly never the same again. This track was also the scene of the Hamilton-Alonso rivalry when they were teammates at McLaren in 2007. Things completely fell apart for Alonso and he lost any backing that he had from then McLaren chief Ron Dennis. Alonso would then leave McLaren having seemingly blackmailed Dennis with information that McLaren had stolen Ferrari’s data.
Both the Ferrari cars suffered punctures on the final lap of the British GP, after running 2nd and 4th. They had pushed too hard on the tyres which caused the punctures. Ferrari need to look into the issues and come back strong at the Hungaroring. They need to win this race, and more importantly with Vettel if he’s to lead the standings into the summer break. They come here with minor upgrades to their car, to halt the Silver Arrows juggernaut. However, it won’t be easy as this is one of Lewis Hamilton’s most successful tracks – he has won 5 times here and will be looking for another victory. A win would mean that he would certainly lead the championship standings and would go off into the summer break with momentum on his side.
Red Bull have also made major strides forward with their RB13. They were very competitive on the fast corners of Silverstone and will again be a handful at the twisty corners here. The Renault engine has also received upgrades and with some more power, Red Bull will fight for victories later in the season.
Force India’s car is also an excellent package, and has been competitive on every circuit so far. Another double points finish is what they’ll need to further secure 4th place in the constructors’ standings. Renault had an excellent outing last time out in Silverstone with Hulkenberg finishing in a fine 6th place, the upgrades having shown the desired effect. However, they need their other driver, Jolyon Palmer to also score points. Next week, Robert Kubica will be testing the 2017 car here and all eyes will be on him, with rumors going around that he will replace Palmer at the Belgian GP at Spa in August.
McLaren’s woeful season doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of respite, with Alonso retiring with engine problems again last time out at Silverstone. A points finish is best they can hope for this time; 10 years ago in 2007, they won here with Alonso.
The weather usually stays dry, with the 2006 race the first ever wet race that took place. However, dust is a frequent visitor here because the track is underused. So, as the track gets faster by the weekend, the dust doesn’t normally go anywhere so it is tricky for drivers to set fast lap times.