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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2019 Australian Grand Prix – Preview

It has been an interesting off-season in Formula One, with a number of big changes. Daniel Ricciardo leaving Red Bull Racing-Honda to join Renault and being replaced by Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc joining Ferrari to replace Kimi Räikkönen, who has join Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Lance Stroll joining Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, and new driver pairing at McLaren-Renault (Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat), and Williams-Mercedes (George Russell and Robert Kubica).

However, the most decisive change may well be the addition of a championship point for the driver who sets the fastest lap of each race in 2019, as long as the driver who sets it finishes the race inside the Top 10, and with an extra 21 points potentially on the line, could this decide who wins the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which starts this weekend at Albert Park in Melbourne?

Possibly, but who are the championship contenders?

Realistically, based on the results of testing, three teams are capable of challenging for the world championship.

Mercedes are obviously going to be right up there, and are chasing an unprecedented sixth-straight drivers/constructors championship double. Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is undoubtedly in career-best form as he looks to hunt down a number of records held by seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, including most championships, most race wins (Schumacher 91 to 73), most podiums (Schumacher 155 to 134), and most races led (Schumacher 142 to 129), while his teammate Valtteri Bottas will be looking for a vastly-improved performance in 2019 after finishing fifth in the world championship in 2018.

However, Mercedes face a huge battle to maintain their superiority against Ferrari, who have been very quick in testing in the hands of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, and his new teammate Charles Leclerc, who will become the youngest driver to race for Ferrari since the late Ricardo Rodriguez (19 years and 208 days) in 1961 at the age of 21 years and 153 days.

Vettel, who is looking for a third-straight win in Australia, will be desperate to deliver Ferrari their first driver’s world championship since Kimi Räikkönen back in 2007, and the Prancing Horse have been quick in testing, leading the timesheets on four of the eight days of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and if that is anything to go by, Ferrari will be serious championship contenders to Mercedes in 2019, but the obvious question marks will be whether Vettel and Ferrari can sustain a championship challenge for a full season against the juggernaut that is Hamilton and Mercedes, and whether Leclerc will prove a handful for Vettel, and deny the German the fifth world championship that he has been seeking since joining Ferrari in 2015?

The third team that appears to be a championship contender is Red Bull Racing-Honda with Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly. Verstappen is perhaps the most natural talent in Formula One today with the possible exception of Lewis Hamilton, and if he and Red Bull can get on a good run, they can challenge Mercedes and Ferrari for the world championship. However, the jury is still out on Gasly, and whether he can fill the large shoes of Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull.

Talking about Ricciardo, he is now with Renault for the 2019 season, driving alongside Nico Hülkenberg, and on the face of it, they look like they may well be the fourth-quickest, and the best of the rest behind Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull. However, I don’t think Renault are quite at that level of being a championship contender just yet, but if there is a chance of a really strong result, you know Ricciardo will be there to take the opportunity, and maybe a race victory, which would be the eighth of his career, isn’t out of the realms of possibility!

However, a team that won’t be challenging anywhere near the front is Williams-Mercedes. It was a disastrous off-season for the great British team, with the team not getting their car out onto the track until the second half of the third day of testing in Barcelona, and appear comfortably behind the rest of the field, which is a shame considering the miraculous return to Formula One of Robert Kubica for the first time since 2010 after the shocking rally accident in February 2011, which he came close to losing his life.

Hopefully at some point in 2019, we can see Kubica and Williams in a competitive position, but that seems unlikely at the moment.

So, who is going to win the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, and perhaps the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship?

In regards to both, it is going to be battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, as well as Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing-Honda, and despite speculation that they have been knocked off their perch, I think Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will rise to the top, and dominate the weekend at Albert Park, and the two times when he has won the Australian Grand Prix (2008, 2015), he has gone onto win the world championship, and if he gets off to the perfect start, it is going to be a tall order for anyone to stop him winning his sixth championship, and moving to within one of Michael Schumacher!