2019 Hungarian Grand Prix – Preview

It was a chaotic 2019 German Grand Prix in changeable conditions, Max Verstappen got his second race victory of the season, Sebastian Vettel finished second from 20th on the grid after technical issues in qualifying, Daniil Kvyat grabbed his third career podium in Formula One, and the second-ever podium for Scuderia Toro Rosso!

However, many others had shocking races, with five drivers, including Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas, crashing out of the race, a further two retiring due to mechanical issues, including Daniel Ricciardo, while Lewis Hamilton almost crashed out of the race, not once, but twice, as he managed to somehow finish ninth in what was one of his worst races in his career to extend his championship lead heading into the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix, Round 12 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (225 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by 41 points over teammate Bottas (184 points) after what was his worst race result, excluding retirements, in his Formula One career since the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix after both Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi from Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari received 30-second time penalties after the German Grand Prix for infringements regarding the start, which they are going to appeal against, promoting Hamilton from 11th, which would have been his worst race result, excluding retirements, since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, where he finished 12th, to ninth.

Hamilton will be looking to bounce back this weekend at the Hungaroring, a place where he has won at six times (the most race wins at the Hungaroring), and will aiming to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of most pole positions in Hungary (seven).

Meanwhile, Bottas must be feeling quite awful after crashing out of the German Grand Prix from fourth position to miss out on a golden opportunity to close the championship deficit, and with his drive under scrutiny from some quarters, he desperately needs a win in Hungary this weekend.

Verstappen (162 points) is third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after his seventh race victory in Formula One in what was arguably the best performance of his career to date, and while you don’t necessarily think he is in contention for the championship, he could certainly challenge Bottas for second!

Vettel (141 points) is fourth in the championship for Ferrari after his come from behind drive at his home race, while his teammate Leclerc (120 points) is in fifth in the standings after a race that was in some ways similar to Monaco earlier this season, a race to forget!

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (55 points) remains sixth in the standings despite going out late in the German Grand Prix due to collision damage on Lap 62, while McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (48 points) closes up on Gasly in the championship after finishing in fifth.

Behind them, Kvyat (27 points) has moved up to eighth in the standings after his shock podium finish for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, ahead of Räikkönen (25 points) for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, while McLaren-Renault’s Lando Norris (22 points) and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (22 points) are tied on points for 10th in the world championship, with Norris ahead due to two sixth-place finishes in 2019 compared with Ricciardo’s one.

Looking at the Constructor’s Championship, Mercedes (409 points) still have a huge 148-point lead over Ferrari (261 points), while Red Bull Racing-Honda (217 points) close their deficit to Ferrari to 44 points.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (70 points) consolidated their position as Formula One’s fourth-best team, while a huge fight is brewing for fifth in the championship between Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (42 points), Renault (39 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (31 points), Haas-Ferrari (26 points), and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (26 points), and at long last, Williams-Mercedes (one point) score their first point of 2019 thanks to a 10th-placed finish for the courageous Robert Kubica.

So, who is going to win the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix?

Mercedes showed in Monaco earlier this year what type of car they have in low speed corners, and given that the Hungaroring is similar in nature in so many ways (without the walls so close of course), you feel that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are the ones to beat, but you cannot rule out Ferrari and Red Bull Racing-Honda giving Mercedes a run for their money!

 

 

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2018 Hungarian GP – Preview

After an astonishing comeback drive from Lewis Hamilton, compliment by great strategy, and a little bit of luck to comeback from 14th on the grid to grab his first win after starting outside of the top six in his Formula One career, and the huge mistake from Sebastian Vettel to crash out from the German Grand Prix has turned the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship on its head heading into Round 12 at the Hungaroring in Mogyoród, just outside of Budapest, for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton (188 points) has re-taken the championship lead by 17 points for Mercedes ahead of his fierce championship rival Vettel (171 points) for Ferrari with 10 races remaining of a marathon 2018 world championship, with both drivers and teams evenly-matched for the most part, with Hamilton and Vettel tied on four wins each, with Hamilton having two more podiums, but both Mercedes and Ferrari having the same amounts of wins (four) and podiums (13) as they seek to give Hamilton, in the case of Mercedes, and Vettel, in the case of Ferrari, their fifth world championship, which would equal Juan Manuel Fangio (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957), and put them within two of Michael Schumacher (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004).

In addition to this, as I was writing this preview, I heard of the sad passing of the former Chairman and CEO of both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari Sergio Marchionne aged 66. He was a giant of the car and motoring industry, helping turn around Fiat, and assisting Chrysler out of bankruptcy, with both companies merging. Marchionne also played his part in helping Ferrari to improved competitiveness in Formula One, but sadly won’t get to see Ferrari end their championship drought, but Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, and the entire Ferrari team will be looking to honour his memory with a win and one-two finish this weekend.

However, a tight battle is developing for third in the world championship between Räikkönen (131 points), who finished third at the Hockenheimring, and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (122 points), who completed a Mercedes one-two after it was looking like it was going to be a Ferrari one-two. However, both Daniel Ricciardo (106 points) and Max Verstappen (105 points) are not without a chance of third in the championship, although it was a mixed race for Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer, with Ricciardo, after starting from the back of the grid due to power-unit penalties managing to get his way back to sixth before a loss of power curtailed his race on Lap 28, while Verstappen finished fourth after trying a couple of different strategies unsuccessfully in the tricky conditions.

Behind the top six in the championship, there is a fierce six-way battle for seventh in the world championship, separated by just 24 points, between Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (52 points), McLaren-Renault’s Fernando Alonso (40 points), Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (39 points), Force India-Mercedes’ Sergio Pérez (30 points), Pérez’s teammate Esteban Ocon (29 points), and Hülkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (28 points). Overall, it is battle that is most likely going to be decided by the competitiveness of the respective teams over the remaining 10 rounds, but at the moment, Hülkenberg looks the driver to beat for seventh, with Magnussen looking strong to challenge him.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (310 points) have re-taken the lead from Ferrari (302 points), with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (211 points) asserting itself in third. Renault (80 points) has maintained its strong grasp of fourth in the standings ahead of a tight battle for fifth between Force India-Mercedes (59 points), Haas-Ferrari (59 points), and McLaren-Renault (48 points). They are followed by Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (20 points), Sauber-Ferrari (18 points), and Williams-Mercedes (four points).

So, who will win in Hungary?

I expect Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer to be strong, like they were in Monaco, where they dominated both Ferrari and Mercedes, despite the MGU-K issues for Daniel Ricciardo. However, there was little to separate both Ferrari and Mercedes in Monaco, but with a few longer corners at the Hungaroring, I suspect Mercedes might be just ahead of Ferrari here, and given Lewis Hamilton’s record of five wins in Hungary, the most successful driver in Hungarian Grand Prix history, I think he could challenge both Ricciardo and Max Verstappen for the race victory.

In my opinion, I am going to tip Verstappen for the win in a Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer one-two, with Hamilton finishing in a close third.

 

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

The 11th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend at the Hungaroring in the village of Mogyoród, just outside of Budapest in Hungary.

Sebastian Vettel comes into the Hungarian Grand Prix with a one point lead over his nearest championship rival Lewis Hamilton. Vettel leads on 177 points after a late tyre puncture cost him vital championship points at the British Grand Prix, finishing in seventh, and last on the lead lap at Silverstone.

Meanwhile, Hamilton (176 points) cruised to a fifth British Grand Prix victory, which equalled the records of Jim Clark and Alain Prost, which was his fourth victory of the season, and his third grand slam (pole position, race win, fastest lap, and leading every lap of the race) of 2017.

Challenging those two in the world championship battle is Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who is just 23 points behind Vettel in the Drivers’ World Championship on 154 points, after helping Mercedes grab an unexpected one-two at Silverstone, capitalising on the tyre issues suffered by both Ferrari’s after starting ninth on the grid due to an unscheduled gearbox change.

Daniel Ricciardo is fourth in the world championship for Red Bull on 117 points, 60 points behind Vettel after finishing fifth at the British Grand Prix after starting 19th due to mechanical problems with his car in qualifying (although he had a five-place grid penalty for a unscheduled gearbox change), and an early run off the circuit during the opening laps of the race.

Kimi Räikkönen is fifth in the drivers’ world championship on 98 points after a brilliant drive at Silverstone, running in second for the vast majority of the race, and was faster than his teammate Vettel, before he had to pit because of a slow puncture. However, Räikkönen did recover to salvage third for Ferrari, and proved to all of the doubters, including his own team, that he is far from done in his Formula One career.

Talking about being far from done, Max Verstappen’s 2017 season hasn’t really gotten started, but at the British Grand Prix, his Red Bull managed to hold up and be reliable enough to claim fourth in the race to return to sixth in the world championship on 57 points, sneaking ahead of Force India driver Sergio Pérez (52 points), who finished ninth at Silverstone.

Esteban Ocon is eighth in the world championship on 43 points after finishing a position ahead of his teammate Pérez at the British Grand Prix, with Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. (29 points) ninth in the championship standings, ahead of Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (26 points), who produced arguably his best performance of the season to date, qualifying sixth, starting fifth, and finishing in sixth position in a car that is no where near the standard of the front-runners.

Taking a look at the Constructors’ World Championship, Mercedes (330 points) have extended their lead to 55 points over Ferrari (275 points), with Red Bull comfortably in third position on 174 points, ahead of Force India (95 points), who are comfortably ahead of a great scrap for fifth place, with Williams (41 points), Toro Rosso (33 points), Haas (29 points) and Renault (26 points) all within 15 points of each other.

Ninth in the Constructors’ World Championship is Sauber on five points, with the struggling McLaren on just two points.

Looking at who will be strong at the Hungaroring, the top three teams in Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have cars that should suit this circuit quite well, with some longer, faster corners that should suit Mercedes, point and squirt sections which will suit Ferrari, and a lack of long straights that will give Red Bull a podium sniff.

However, looking at the drivers who have been successful at the Hungarian Grand Prix, only one driver stands out.

That is Lewis Hamilton, who has won at the Hungaroring on five occasions, and while his main objective will be to claim his sixth Hungarian Grand Prix victory on Sunday, Hamilton, on Saturday, will be looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 career pole positions in Formula One, and similar to when he equalled Ayrton Senna’s pole position record in Canada, this would be the perfect place to equal this record, given the success he has had here, a place where Schumacher won at on four occasions.

Hamilton is my tip for the Hungarian Grand Prix, and if he does win, he will take the lead in the world championship.

As for the other podium positions, I am tipping Kimi Räikkönen to continue the form he showed at Silverstone to finish in second, ahead of a tight battle between (in no particular order) Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (6pm and 10pm AEST).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 11am and 2pm local time (7pm and 10pm AEST).

The 70 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (10pm AEST).