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Formula 1 Preview: Hungarian Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Credit: Charles Coates/Getty Images

It’s race week again, so take your seats for the start of the upcoming double header. The drivers will put their pedals to the metal on consecutive weekends before they get a much-needed summer break. This weekend they will have to navigate the tricky turns and twists of the Hungaroring, which has set the scene for some sensational racing in the past.


Circuit Guide

Credit: formula1.com

The lights will go out on Sunday, and begin the long run down to Turn one, a zone of catastrophe for many in the wet race in 2021. They can then utilise another dose of DRS (Drag Reduction System) before Turn two. The high-speed section through Turn 4 can be another overtaking opportunity too. Described as “Monaco without walls”, the majority of this track is extremely demanding and requires absolute concentration from every driver. The lap ends with the seemingly never-ending Turn 14, a corner where you can't lay down the power too early, else the straight-line speed across the finish line will be compromised.


Weekend Format

This year’s Hungarian Grand Prix is sticking to the traditional weekend format of Saturday qualifying for the race on Sunday. However, a spanner is set to be thrown into the works in qualifying, with drivers mandated to use the hard tyres in Q1, Medium tyres in Q2, and soft tyres in Q3. The debut for this new format was set to take place around Imola, but was pushed back to Hungary, following the weekend of racing action in Imola being called off due to raging floods.


Schedule (in BST)

Practice 1 - Friday, 12:30 pm

Practice 2 - Friday, 16:00 pm

Practice 3 - Saturday, 11:30 am

Qualifying - Saturday, 15:00 pm

Race - Sunday, 14:00 pm


Weather Forecast

No rain is expected to disrupt this weekend at all, so it should be fairly straightforward running for the teams. Track temperature is forecast to be high though, as is typical when visiting Budapest in July, meaning tyres may degrade quickly, and force unpredictable strategies on Sunday.


Major Talking Points


  • Ricciardo’s Return - the experienced Australian driver will make his highly anticipated return to the sport this weekend, replacing out-of-favour Nyck De Vries


  • McLaren’s Resurgence - after the major upturn in form for the British outfit in the last two races, fans are eager to find out what they can do around the Hungaroring.


  • Record-Breaking Red Bull - this year’s dominant team can break McLaren’s 1998 record of 11 consecutive wins with victory this weekend


The Hungaroring in Years Gone By

Credit: Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

Ever since the circuit first appeared on the F1 calendar in 1986, it has provided us with legendary moments, the debut race giving us a moment to savour,as Nelson Piquet made a daredevil pass on Ayrton Senna. We’ve seen Nigel Mansell outfox Senna in 1989 to take a storming victory for Ferrari. In 1997, the world’s hearts fell when Damon Hill was cruelly denied a win through poor reliability, in the midst of a miserable season. Jenson Button blazed through the field in 2006 to claim his maiden win from 14th on the grid, years before Daniel Ricciardo made the headlines in 2014 to earn himself victory after a breathtaking overtaking display. More recently, who can forget Fernando Alonso’s stunning defence from the charging Lewis Hamilton in 2021, securing his then teammate Esteban Ocon a wildly enjoyable first F1 win.


Last Race Recap

Two weeks ago, we were lucky enough to watch a thrilling British Grand Prix. The McLarens took the headlines in qualifying, with only the impervious Max Verstappen able to outqualify either of them. Lando Norris jumped the two-time champion at the start, but Oscar Piastri couldn’t repeat the trick, and Norris couldn’t hold the position past Lap 5. Plenty of action behind entertained the fans, but the McLaren double podium seemed inevitable, until a late safety car threw a spanner in the works.


Hamilton gained third position ahead of Piastri, and seemed destined to take Norris’ P2 spot, after the young Brit was put on hard tyres. However he defended fiercely, and we capped off the weekend with a podium of Verstappen, Norris, and Hamilton.


Drivers to Watch

Hamilton and Verstappen will certainly be two drivers to keep an eye on in Hungary. Image - Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton - Circuit King

The Hungaroring is well-known as Hamilton’s playground, with the seven-time champion taking a ground-breaking eight wins at the circuit, only three less than the most number of times any entire team has won here. With a podium in his home race last time out, it would be foolish to bet against the legendary Brit from continuing his good form this weekend.


Max Verstappen - Unfaltering Form

There cannot be a stronger favourite for this race than Verstappen. The Orange Army has watched him wipe the floor with the competition again this season, and he now has the chance to break the record for most consecutive wins by a team. Even more impressively, the Dutchman has secured all but two of Red Bull’s current winning streak. Anything other than a Verstappen victory would be a serious upset.


The Other Contenders

Sergio Perez seems to be in a rough patch right now, and doesn’t look to have anything like the pace shown by his teammate. Ferrari have fallen off dramatically in terms of pace this season, only just scraping double points at Silverstone last weekend. George Russell could certainly find himself on the podium, arguably only being beaten by his teammate at his home race due to the timing of the safety car. Both McLarens can no longer be counted out either, due to their outstanding performances recently. Finally, it is worth mentioning Ocon, whose only win came at this very track in 2021.


Marcus’ Predictions

Of course, a win for Verstappen seems inevitable, but I think that the battle behind will remain fascinating this weekend. In fact, I would watch out for a fiery Ferrari and a slight cooling of McLaren’s red-hot pace last weekend. Lastly, I think that the jubilation surrounding Ricciardo’s return to the sport will result in points for the Australian, albeit not the win envisioned by some. In any case, please take the time to let us know your race predictions in the comments below and enjoy the Hungarian Grand Prix!


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