Round 12 of the F1 Championship comes from Budapest this weekend in what will be the final race before a well-earned summer break for the teams and drivers, and if last weekend’s thriller in Germany is anything to go by then we are in for a real treat.
Mercedes clinch home win
Last time out in Germany it was Lewis Hamilton that gave Mercedes the home win and his fourth at the Hockenheimring. That said, the defending champion’s win was not that straightforward. After suffering from hydraulic failure in Q2, a disappointed Hamilton was forced to start the race from 14th position on the grid, with rival Vettel on pole.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) July 22, 2018
With the race seemingly unfolding into a Ferrari 1-2, down came the rain. Vettel lost concentration for a split second and ended up in the barriers, while Ferrari decided to pit Raikkonen behind the safety car to give Mercedes a 1-2 finish, the perfect way for both Hamilton and Bottas to celebrate their contract extensions with the Silver Arrows.
The win for Hamilton was the 66th of his career and fourth of the season, putting him 17-points clear of Vettel, while Bottas’ second place was a fifth of his campaign. The result also saw a significant swing in the Constructors battle with Mercedes now in pole 8-points clear of Ferrari.
German Grand Prix Review
What to expect in Hungary
This weekend at the Hungaroring could be all about damage limitation for Mercedes and Hamilton, with even Team Principle Toto Wolf playing down their chances.
With Ferrari showcasing a pace edge advantage in Germany following their engine upgrade, it was more down to driver error and strategic decisions when the rain came that cost the Italian outfit more points.
Wolff believes that with a tight and twisty track this weekend, Ferrari have the better downforce and straight-line speed package to deal with the demands of the circuit.
His comments are to a certain extent supported by the teams results in Hungary over recent years. Since 2014 they have achieved just the four podium finishes out of a possible eight, two of those coming in 2016 when Hamilton and Rosberg completed a 1-2.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) July 25, 2018
Last year it was all about Ferrari, with Vettel winning from pole and Raikkonen finishing second after starting in the same position. Vettel’s win last year extending his championship lead over Hamilton at the time, although it also led to the Mercedes driver winning five out of the next six races during a period of domination driven by sheer determination.
Red Bull will certainly come into play this weekend, the circuit characteristics suiting their downforce package particularly well. Last weekend the team also made a strategic decision for Ricciardo to take engine penalties with a view on a better performance in Budapest, a decision that backfired after he was forced to retire.
Ricciardo and Verstappen learn to drive in the wet!
Last year Ricciardo and Verstappen collided resulting in a DNF for the Aussie, his teammate eventually finishing sixth. In 2014 Daniel Ricciardo took the chequered flag for the second time in his career, while the following year he came home third behind his then teammate Kvyat. In 2016, the Aussie stood on the podium again ahead of Verstappen who finished fourth.
With the summer break ahead there will be extra pressure on the teams to secure as many points as possible, meaning fans could be in for another F1 spectacle this weekend.
Circuit Length: 2.72mi/4.38km
Race Distance: 190.53mi/306.63km
Tyre compounds used: Medium/Soft/Supersoft
Lap record: 1 minute 19.071 seconds set by Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) in 2004
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) July 26, 2018
Hungarian Grand Prix Schedule (BST)
Practice 1 – Friday 27th July – 10:00 – 11:30
Practice 2 – Friday 27th July – 14:00 – 15:30
Practice 3: Saturday 28th July – 11:00 – 12:00
Qualifying: Saturday 28th July – 14:00 – 15:00
Race: Sunday 22nd July – 14:10 – 16:10
Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Prediction
The weather is expected to be in the 30’s this weekend with no rain predicted for the race itself. However, what could make things interesting are the showers predicted for qualifying on Saturday. This could have a significant impact on the battle for pole position and the eventual outcome of the race.
Last year it was Vettel that snatched pole position ahead of Raikkonen, with the German 15/8 to repeat this.
Mercedes on the other hand have secured pole in Hungary on four consecutive occasions before last year’s race, and have also occupied the front of the grid three out of the last four races this season.
With this in mind backing Hamilton 13/5 could be the way to go.
Don’t ignore Ricciardo with his new power unit and teammate Verstappen, both at 11/4.
My feeling is Hamilton will edge it ahead of Vettel.
Hungarian Grand Prix Race Prediction
I have a feeling Mercedes are not very hopeful of a win in this one. Toto Wolff’s comments that the DNA of their car is not suited to the Hungaroring, certainly has some truth to it and suggests this could be a weekend of damage limitation for the team and drivers.
Still I can’t lose sight of the fact that Lewis Hamilton has more wins than any other driver in Hungary, five to be exact, and at 11/4, I can see the defending champion arriving full of confidence off the back of his German performance and winning from pole position.
If you disagree or are a Ferrari fan, then Vettel at 15/8 will most likely be your choice.