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.