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 Bahrain GP – Preview

The speculation that Mercedes had been knocked off their perch as Formula One’s dominant force had been greatly exaggerated, but it was Valtteri Bottas, not Lewis Hamilton, who took full advantage to win the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, claiming the single point for the fastest lap of the race to take the lead of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which heads to the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir for the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Bottas (26 points) leads the championship by eight points over his teammate and defending world champion Hamilton (18 points) after defeating him by 20.886 seconds at Albert Park to claim the fourth race victory of his career, a performance Bottas himself regarded as the best of his career.

However, Hamilton suffered floor damage to his car on the fourth lap of the Australian Grand Prix, affecting the aerodynamic performance of the car, denying him any opportunity to challenge his teammate for the race victory after claiming pole position for the sixth-straight year, and the eighth time at Albert Park, becoming just the third driver after Michael Schumacher (Suzuka) and Ayrton Senna (Imola) to achieve eight pole positions at one circuit.

Whether Hamilton would have won the opening race of the season without his floor damage is up for debate, but it certainly would have been a lot closer, that is for sure!

Max Verstappen (15 points) is third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after pushing Hamilton close at Albert Park, ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel (12 points) and Charles Leclerc (10 points), who after dominating pre-season testing, finished 57.109 and 58.203 seconds behind Bottas at the opening race of the season, and rightfully would feel ashamed of their performance in Melbourne, and will be hoping that this performance is just a one-off, and that they can challenge Mercedes for the championship throughout 2019.

Behind them in the standings are Kevin Magnussen (eight points) for Haas-Ferrari, Nico Hülkenberg (six points) for Renault, Kimi Räikkönen (four points) for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Lance Stroll (two points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, and Daniil Kvyat (one point) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, who all scored points in the opening race of 2019.

However, it was a disappointing weekend in Australia for Daniel Ricciardo, his first race with Renault, having some difficulties or teething issues with the car in practice, qualifying outside of the Top 10 in 12th, and then sustaining damage to his car just metres off the start line on Sunday, which forced him to retire from the Australian Grand Prix after 28 laps.

Ricciardo will be hoping for a much better weekend in Bahrain, but you sense the best result he can hope for at the moment, given the car that he has at the moment, is a sixth or seventh-place finish, and most likely a lap down on the leaders (Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull Racing-Honda).

So, who is going to win the Bahrain Grand Prix?

In my opinion, it is always very hard to see a team bouncing back to win the next race after being smashed by almost a minute in the previous race, but if Ferrari’s performance in pre-season testing was genuine, and that Mercedes, and to a lesser extent Red Bull Racing-Honda haven’t actually gained genuine performance between pre-season testing and the first race, and that both of their performances in Australia were simply track specific, then they are a strong chance to bounce back.

However, it is not the first time that a team involving Lewis Hamilton has gained a huge chunk of time, usually in the region of about a second, in a short space of time to instantly become more competitive.

Think mid-season in 2009 when McLaren, the team Hamilton was driving for at the time, moved from near the back of the field, where they were at the British Grand Prix, to challenging Brawn and Red Bull, on speed at least, at the following race at the Nürburgring in Germany, with Hamilton winning the following race in Hungary.

Think 2011, when McLaren (with Hamilton) moved from what many predicted was a midfield position for the team in pre-season testing to being arguably the second-best car on the grid for the start of the season in Australia, although comfortably behind Red Bull generally throughout 2011.

It cannot be a coincidence because if you were to add a second to the times both Mercedes achieved in qualifying at Albert Park, those were the times/margins that many experts thought Mercedes were behind in relation to Ferrari, and to a lesser extent Red Bull Racing-Honda.

Hamilton has proven, if the form is genuine, to be the face of the catalyst of turning the competitiveness of a team around once again, and if you believe this, then you cannot be surprised of his standing today as a five-time Formula One World Champion!

I am predicting Hamilton to bounce back from the floor issue he suffered in the race with his car in Australia to win in Bahrain, but I think Max Verstappen can put in a sterling performance to finish in second, with Valtteri Bottas to finish in third, just ahead of the two Ferrari drivers.