Home Sport Five factors to consider in Hungary

Five factors to consider in Hungary

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Here Morgan Bolton takes a look at five facets that will define the Hungary Grand Prix.

The damaged cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen after they clashed out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Photo: David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters.

THE KID gloves are off, Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been told to cool it, Mercedes and Red Bull are eye-balling each other; a war of words and a degree of animosity is apparent between Toto Wolff and Christian Horner; and this weekend we will see how much the Silver Arrows’ new package has really improved their drive.

Here Morgan Bolton takes a look at five facets that will define the Hungary Grand Prix.

1 A Red Bull track? Not really …

The Hungaroring is considered a Red Bull track but based on previous races this is something of a fallacy.

The team has not won at the track since 2014 and since then Mercedes have won four of the six races there, with two Ferrari victories squeezed in there for good measure. Hamilton is the master and commander of the track, having won an unprecedented eight GPs in Budapest. Verstappen, meanwhile, has never won in Hungary, his best result recorded in 2019 when he finished second.

2 New unit, new challenge

The crash at Silverstone, in which Verstappen took a massive shunt and hit the tyre wall, cost Red Bull an estimated R37-million. The car was a write-off and with the strict cost cap imposed on all teams, Red Bull can rightly feel aggrieved, even if their response was a bit dramatic.

They will run a new power unit, their third and the regulation limit, meaning that with 13 races to go they now face a grid penalty if they use a fourth engine, or will be forced to use the first unit later in the season. There is no guarantee either that the new unit will be up to speed come the race weekend, so Red Bull certainly have one hand tied behind their back, unless the FIA decrees otherwise.

3 Dishing up the dirt

The Hungaroring is not conducive to overtaking and is described as “Monaco without the buildings”. Track position is, therefore, extremely important. Due to its geography, a layer of dust crusts the surface, ensuring that the racing line is tight and the grip off that path is perilous. Unlike every other venue on the racing calendar, the track does not rubber-in and does not get faster as the weekend progresses.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (right) and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after their colission during the race. Photo: REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Qualifying will be extremely important tomorrow, and whoever finishes on pole will have the inside lane to claim victory. Team tactics and strategy will be paramount to a successful race, so expect the undercut and overcut to come into play with crisp and faultless pitstops essential on raceday.

4 Ferrari could strike back

The Scuderia have shown some impressive pace in qualifying and at a track where track position can dictate a driver’s finish, could be the best of the rest. McLaren, and particularly Lando Norris, have been magnificent so far this season, while Daniel Ricciardo seems to have finally come to grips with his car’s set-up.

Nevertheless, if Ferrari can secure a favourable position on the starting grid, as shown in Monaco and Baku, then they could well outscore their great rivals. Tomorrow will be immensely important for the Prancing Horse.

5 Battle of the Generations – So who is the favourite to win?

Verstappen is arguably the form driver of the season, but how much that shunt will have dented his confidence remains to be seen. Psychology will play a huge role.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is looking for a ninth victory at the GP and his triumph in the British Grand Prix, however dubious many considered it, coupled with his new upgrades, will play a massive role in the outcome.

He was fastest in the qualifying at Silverstone, but that was due to the Sprint qualifying format. The Silver Arrows look to be the faster car over a race, while Red Bull are quicker during a hot lap, which is the format of this weekend’s qualifying.

The simple truth is that no-one really knows, but if the chips have to be played on the table, then you’d imagine that Mercedes were the safest bet, but only by the slightest of margins.

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