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F1 Race Preview: Hungarian Grand Prix


F1 Race Preview: Hungarian Grand Prix

It’s round 13 of the Formula One World Championship and we’re heading to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix. After a disappointing French GP, Charles Leclerc will be seeking redemption, but will he get it? Read on to inform your F1 predictions ahead of the next race of the season with expert insight from Jennie Gow.

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It’s the last race before the mid-season break where the teams’ factories shut down and all personnel get some much-needed time off. For it, F1 is heading to the Hungaroring in Budapest, one of my favourite cities in the world with its intoxicating mix of old-world history, beautiful buildings, a great atmosphere, and a circuit which acts as a natural amphitheatre, allowing fans from across the world to watch their heroes at work.

French Grand Prix: Disaster for Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship

Last weekend, at the French GP, Charles Leclerc and Ferrari were faultless during Saturday’s qualifying session. They mastered the Mistral straight and with a fantastic tow from his teammate, Leclerc took the pole I predicted he would.

Alas, come Sunday, it all went wrong. The race started well for Leclerc and while it was hard to see how he could defend his position and keep ahead of Verstappen (who was right behind him and looking good for the overtake) for the whole Grand Prix, during the opening laps that’s exactly what he did.

He kept Verstappen at bay until the reigning champion changed tactics and made an early pit stop to try and force the hand of Ferrari. And then disaster happened! Just a couple of laps later, to the dismay of the thousands of Ferrari fans in the stands, Leclerc slid off into the barriers and his race ended with him howling in desperation down the team radio. “Noooooooooooo!” was the cry from Leclerc as he did the unthinkable and lost the lead of the race all by himself.

As ever, after the race (won by Verstappen with ease) Leclerc was his usual self – berating himself for his howler of a mistake and saying he didn’t deserve to win the Championship if he was going to drive that like. He is honest to a fault but only has a matter of days to rebuild himself and come out firing on all cylinders in Hungary to try and hunt down Verstappen once again.

Constructors’ Championship betting: Can Ferrari still beat Red Bull?

There is no doubt that mistakes from Ferrari – both team and drivers – have cost them an enormous amount of points this year. Their Constructors’ Championship challenge, which started so well, has petered out and once again in France, there were mistakes and miscommunications happening that just aren’t good enough for a top team.

It is going to take some rebuilding to eradicate them, but the team must keep trying. The question is, do they write off this year and use it as a learning and data-gathering exercise or do they feel they have to keep pushing? Either way, the team need to bounce back strongly before the summer break.

Hungarian Grand Prix 2022: Can Hamilton win again at the Hungaroring?

The Hungaroring circuit is only used a few times throughout the year, so it’s usually dusty when the cars take to the track at the start of the first practice session. The circuit is also tight and twisty and difficult to overtake on, which means that sometimes it produces boring racing. In recent years, however, the races have been more entertaining.

This will be the 37th Hungarian Grand Prix held at the track. It’s a track Hamilton has plenty of fond memories of – he has won eight times in Budapest and Mercedes-powered cars have won 13 times in the history of the GP.

Having said that, a win for Hamilton or any Mercedes-powered car seems unlikely this year! While the Mercedes team keep bringing updates to the car, the performance gap between them and the top two (Ferrari and Red Bull) doesn’t appear to be closing.

Hamilton also holds the record for the most amount of podium finishes at the Hungaroring – a total of 10. I do back him to make that 11 and continue his run of podium finishes this weekend at one of the tracks that he is best at.

The last four races have brought him a second place and three third place finishes – he’s in fine form despite not having the car to win at the moment in a standard race weekend.

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Hungarian Grand Prix 2022: Can the weather affect the race result?

The weather in Hungary at this time of the year is usually balmy; however, there is also a lot of rain that floats about the region at this time of year and both of the last two races have been rain-affected. It can lead to some strange results – last year, the wet weather helped Esteban Ocon (Alpine) to win his first F1 race. It was a fairy-tale story for the Frenchman and gives not only the drivers hope, but all of us too, that sometimes the underdog can win a race!

In total, though, only five races have been affected by rain – 2006, 2011, 2014, 2020, and 2021. The current forecast for this weekend is showing rain for Saturday which could affect qualifying but Sunday is looking dry, sunny, and warm. It could all change though!

Hungarian Grand Prix 2022: Who to bet on for pole

Once again, Hamilton has the record at the Hungaroring for the most pole positions of anyone – a ginormous eight! He was on pole last time out in 2021 but went on to finish second. Of the last 10 races, 50% have been won from pole position. The furthest back a race was won from was Hamilton in 2015 when he started sixth. Eight of the last 10 Hungarian GP’s have been won from the front row.

Despite his race-ending error last weekend, I am backing Leclerc to get pole position in Hungary. He’s already had seven out of 12 this season and is pretty unstoppable on a Saturday. He just needs to work out how to convert more of those poles into wins!

Drivers’ Championship betting: Can anyone stop Verstappen winning the title?

The leader of the Championship after the Hungarian Grand Prix has gone on to win that year’s title in 25 of the 36 seasons in which the race has been held.

I think it’s fair to say there is a good chance that will be added to this year. Verstappen now leads the Drivers’ Championship standings by a whopping 63 points with 10 races to go and has to be favourite to take the win again this weekend.

It now seems an almost impossible task for Leclerc to overturn that gap and win the Championship, but I’m sure that come this weekend, he will give it his all once again. But I think it will take something extraordinary for Verstappen to lose the Championship title this year.

Lando Norris: An outsider with a chance?

Lando Norris doesn’t think his McLaren is able to produce a win at the moment, but Hungary is one of those tracks where you just never know. Maybe, just maybe, this weekend could be his weekend?!

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