Our resident petrol head previews the final Grand Prix before the mid-season break which takes place at the Hungaroring on Sunday the 30th of July.
It’s that time of the year where F1 fanatics tend to feel rather melancholy as the drivers are about to head off for their mid-year sabbatical from which they will only return from in late-August. There’s still one more race to go, however, and it could prove to be a season defining one with only a single point separating Drivers’ Championship leader Sebastian Vettel from Mercedes man Lewis Hamilton.
Will Vettel retain his lead head or will Hamilton overtake his rival before the field pulls in to the pits for a month-long break?
The drama continued out in England a fortnight ago with both Ferraris falling victim to punctures during the final three laps out at Silverstone. While neither Sebastian Vettel nor Kimi Raikkonen were in with a shout of hunting down race leader Lewis Hamilton, the duo did drop a plethora of points with Raikkonen dropping to third place when he looked assured of the runners-up spot and Vettel dropping down to seventh when it looked as though he may just manage to get himself on the podium.
Raikkonen’s late blow out ,handed Mercedes a one-two finish with Valtteri Bottas claiming the second spot. Whilst Vettel’s puncture allowed a number of drivers to sneak into the top 6 including Daniel Ricciardo, who had started near the backend of the grid. Silverstone actually proved an extremely happy hunting ground for Red Bull as not only did the aforementioned, Ricciardo, claim fifth, but his teammate Max Verstappen walked away with fourth place.
Another man who capitalised on the late drama was Nico Hulkenberg. The Renault new boy had put in a solid drive and was well rewarded with the final spot in the top 6. The final four top ten positions were take by Sebastian Vettel (seventh), Esteban Ocon (eighth), Sergio Perez (ninth) and Felipe Massa (tenth).
Hungarian Grand Prix | Sunday 30 July | Hungaroring | 12:30
To Win Race
Lewis Hamilton 83/100 | Sebastian Vettel 7/2 | Valterri Bottas 5/1 | Daniel Ricciardo 12/1 | Max Verstappen 12/1 | Kimi Raikkonen 16/1 | Sergio Perez 300/1 | Esteban Ocon 400/1
The Hungaroring really is a feat of Soviet ingenuity with the track, which was built near the backend of the Cold War, boasting the fastest construction time of any F1 facility, taking little over eight months to build. The circuit is situated in the city of Mogyorod which is located some 18 kilometres outside of the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
The track consists of fourteen turns and covers a total race distance of 306.63 kilometres. Drivers will do battle over 70, 4.381km laps, which feature with the two DRS Zones situated between turns one and two, and the start/finish straight.
Last year’s edition was dominated by Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton claiming first and the recently retired Nico Rosberg claiming pole and finishing the race as runner-up. The final podium position was taken by Daniel Ricciardo.
The weather forecast for the weekend looks rather promising with no real threat of rain being predicted by the local weather bureau at the time of writing. It must be remembered, however, that this track has seen its fair share of afternoon thunderstorms so one cannot write off the chances of the wet tyres making an appearance.
Podium Finish – Daniel Ricciardo – Yes – 7/4
The bookies may have shortened the odds on a Ricciardo podium finish this week but I’m still sweet on this market. The Aussie has a great record at the track winning the 2014 edition, finishing third in 2015, and 2016. At 7/4, the Red Bull man is still worth backing.
Fastest Lap – Kimi Raikkonen 10/1
This is a rather speculative call but I do have my reasons for it. Kimi claimed the fastest lap accolade at the Hungaroring 12 months ago and it’s a track that plays to the Finn’s strengths. On top of this, the race leader hardly ever sets the fastest lap out in Hungary mainly due to tyre management coming in to play. I quite fancy the Finn to launch a late assault on the top three during the final salvos of the race, which could well lead to him claiming the fastest lap.
Fastest Qualifier & Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton 83/100 & 83/100
It generally takes about two seconds of research to decide whether Hamilton will dominate a race weekend but I must admit it was a lot harder this time around as the Brit hasn’t fared as well out in Hungary as he has at other venues. Never the less, Hamilton comes into this one off a solid showing on his home turf and will be raring to overturn Vettel’s one-point lead on the Drivers’ Championship standings before we head into the mid-season break. My money is on the Brit dominating proceedings for the second successive race weekend.