Our Formula 1 scribe previews this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton will be looking to make it three wins in a row.
This weekend we leave the rainy and bleak British isles and travel to Hungary, where Budapest's tight and twisting Hungaroring track will put the F1 drivers to the test.
With a few high-speed tight corners, that don’t leave much room for overtaking, the qualifying rounds become even more important for this race as somebody starting on pole has a good chance of clinching a win. After the rather chaotic race that we witnessed in Britain, hopefully, Hungary will throw us some curveballs as well, instead of being a by the numbers race.
The British Grand Prix was an interesting one. Instead of starting off with a bang, it started off with a cloudburst which dumped buckets of water all over the track while the drivers sat fulminating on the grid. Six minutes before the lights went out the races director made the decision to start the race behind the safety car.
The drivers plodded along behind the safety car for five very wet laps. When the Safety Car pulled off, the three leaders – Mercedes-AMG Petronas' Lewis Hamilton, followed by teammate Nico Rosberg and Red Bull's Max Verstappen – stayed out. Trouble was brewing behind them when another unexpected moment occurred: a big group of drivers made pit stops for intermediate tires because of the conditions on the track, mixing up the positions a bit.
The devious English weather caused Manor's Pascal Wehrlein to spin out at turn 1 on lap seven, and so officials decided it was best to issue a Virtual Safety Car. This meant that the rest of the field slowed down, so the three leaders, pulling devious moves themselves, snuck into the pits on lap eight for intermediates. This great timing, by the leaders, meant all three drivers rejoined the track in their original positions. By lap nine, when racing was resumed, Hamilton had managed to creep up to an astounding 4.9-second lead on Rosberg.
From that point on, the race was lost to all others except for Hamilton, even as the track dried, no one bothered Hamilton during what one commentator called "a measured drive." The Brit won his home Grand Prix which must have been a whole load of stress off his shoulders, if he had lost on his home ground, that would be a massive psychological blow. The victorious Brit ended up taking the checkered flag seven seconds ahead of Rosberg, his closest contender.
Rosberg didn’t have second placed cinched however, he would have to earn that pole position. Unfortunately, the German's car didn't respond well to the intermediate tires that he was on, so Max Verstappen decided to go for it and executed a beautiful pass on Rosberg on the outside through Chapel on lap 16. This certainly took the wind out of Rosberg's sails, however, not all was lost. When everybody switched to slicks, Rosberg's Mercedes regained its lost ferocity and the German set his sights on Verstappen, hunting him down quite effectively and ended up passing the Dutchman on lap 38.
This was not the end of poor Rosberg's troubles, though. With the finish in sight on lap 47 of the 52 lap race, the German's gearbox decided to throw a wobbly. Rosberg radioed his engineer, "Gearbox problem, and the Engineer replied with three statements two of which were fine but the third was in violation of the rule, as he gave advice on how to drive the car saying that Rosberg needs to avoid seventh gear the rule he contravened was that "the driver must drive the car alone and unaided." After the race, officials added ten seconds to Rosberg's time, demoting him to third behind Verstappen which must have been a big disappointment for Mercedes.
The few order changes behind the lead trio came primarily from Sergio Perez who lost a couple of places and a whole bunch of drivers messing up turn 1.
Daniel Ricciardo finished a lonely fourth for Red Bull after another race with strategic decisions regarding his pit stop timing being brought into question. Kimi Räikkönen grabbed scraps for Ferrari in fifth, while Mercedes rival and big contender Sebastian Vettel couldn't do better than ninth for the Scuderia. Force India finally made the most of an entire weekend, Perez finishing sixth ahead of teammate Nico Hülkenberg. Carlos Sainz, Jr. locked up eighth, Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat finished tenth.
This weekend the drivers and their cars will be racing on the Hungaroring track in Budapest. With a total circuit length of 4.381km and a dizzying 70 laps, the race distance for the drivers will be a whopping 306.63km. With corners totalling 14 the track is known as one with many tight corners and a massive straight after the last corner where the first DRS activation zone falls.
Straight after turn one (which is quite a tight one) there is the second DRS activation zone which ends just before the gentle curve of corner two. In a preview quote by Carlos Sainz, he describes the track and its corners as only a driver can. He says “ You arrive at turn 1 at high speed, so you need to brake hard – from 300 to 80kph in about 80 metres. You then get to turn 2, where you always experience some understeer, which makes it difficult to turn the car into the corner. Turn 3 should be flat in qualifying and turn 4 is a very high-speed completely blind corner taken in 6th gear. Turns 6 and 7 form a very slow chicane, followed by a medium-speed and then a high-speed one. So this is a section formed by three chicanes that progressively get quicker and our car should be good here. The last three corners of the circuit are difficult, all in third gear. The second sector is the most interesting and enjoyable one to drive.”
The weather this coming race weekend is going to be intensely hot, with Friday seeing thunderstorms with a temperature at 29 degrees Celcius. Saturday and Sunday will see the temperatures shooting up to 31 degrees Celcius with some cloud cover helping to shield the drivers.
To Win Outright
Lewis Hamilton 11/10 | Nico Rosberg 3/1 | Daniel Ricciardo 4/1 | Max Verstappen 4/1 | Sebatsian Vettel 14/1
Podium Finish: Nico Rosberg 44/100
With the knocks Nico took in Britain, he will be raring to get back on that podium. His driving skills along with his ferocity should ensure that podium finish. Let’s just hope that his run of bad luck has run it’s course now and he gets back in the game.
Fastest Qualifier: Max Verstappen 12/1
We have been seeing some quality driving from Verstappen these last few races. So I think he deserves a spot in the value bets. I would say he has a good chance of qualifying well judging from his ferocity last race. If he keeps that going he will ensure his a good starting spot.
To Win Outright: Lewis Hamilton 11/10
With his win in on his home turf in Britain, his confidence must be at an all-time high. If he continues riding that high he will definitely take the top spot once again.