Hamilton leads in Austria

Ben's Hungarian GP preview

By Ben Edwards
C4F1 commentator

Lewis Hamilton bounced back in fine style last weekend at the Red Bull Ring - but as the teams head to Hungary, for a third race on the bounce, he still finds himself six points behind teammate Valtteri Bottas.
 
The Hungaroring has been a happy hunting ground for Hamilton. Last season he took his seventh win at the track after an epic battle with pole-sitter Max Verstappen. Both drivers seem to thrive on the twisty ribbon of tarmac which allows little respite.
 
As in Austria, there are dips and climbs, and air temperatures can soar, but there’s always the chance of a shower. Jenson Button won his first-ever grand prix in the wet at this venue in 2006 and Hamilton topped a damp qualifying session just two years ago.
 
Usually however, I’ve spent my time there trying to find shade in the paddock to hide from  intense sunshine, and looking enviously at families enjoying the slides and pools of the nearby water park.

Stressful times
 
Spectators will once again be sorely missed this weekend. There are some great viewing spots at the Hungaroring and a passionate yet engaging atmosphere with plenty of fans from Finland making it their annual holiday. 

The Hungarian capital Budapest is only 20 minutes away by car and is one of the most visited cities in the world.
 
Sadly the teams won’t be able to enjoy the nightlife as strict regulations around Covid-19 mean they must either be in their hotel rooms, at the track or travelling the shortest distance between the two.
 
To be firmly cocooned is not easy in these stressful times, especially on a third weekend in a row when the level of work has been so intense. Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to mistakes in the pit lane.

McLaren delivering results
 
Talking of which, McLaren have now suffered a delayed pit stop in each of the opening races and that’s despite investment during the off-season into new equipment to help prevent problems. 
 
Getting back into the rhythm of the rapid tyre change can be difficult, but the team has still delivered some tremendous race results and nobody would  have expected to see them second in the points after the opening two rounds.
 
With 11 wins in Hungary, McLaren are also the most successful team at this track. Carlos Sainz finished fifth last year and while Lando Norris' race didn’t go so well, he did drive a brilliant stint in a Formula Two race a couple of years ago, only to suffer from a broken front wing later on. 
 
Their car may not be the fastest of the midfield runners, but the team's operational skills combined with the two drivers’ talents is delivering results.

Fingers crossed at Ferrari 
 
Ferrari may be able to pick themselves up off the floor here as well. The track is not as power sensitive as Austria, and given the fact that the Ferrari power unit appears to be at the bottom of the league right now, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc may not be at quite the disadvantage they suffered at the Red Bull Ring. 
 
But is the Ferrari chassis good enough to handle the varied corners? More upgraded parts are coming and they’ll be keeping fingers crossed that they work.
 
Based on performance in the last race, the Racing Point team could well be the third best this year, as long as they don’t end up being penalised following a technical protest - specifically related to the car's front and rear brake ducts - from Renault. 
 
A best finish for the team under the Force India banner in Hungary was seventh back in 2011 and it’s not the sort of track that Sergio Perez thrives on; he’s often been out-qualified by his teammates here. 

But Perez's pace in the second half of the Styrian Grand Prix was very impressive and the pink machine is definitely competitive.

Step forward for Renault
 
Daniel Ricciardo is one of just four drivers on the current grid who has won in Hungary; a brilliant pass on Fernando Alonso with three laps to go earned him his second career win and he has been on the podium on two other occasions when driving for Red Bull. 
 
Renault have definitely taken a step forward from last year, when neither car made it into the final part of qualifying in Hungary, and Ricciardo will be keen to add to his relatively low points' tally of just four scored so far this season.
 
So there’s plenty to look forward to as we prepare for the third race weekend in a row, and our final broadcast for now from the Silverstone Experience heritage museum which re-opens to the public on Monday 20th July. It has been a tremendous and welcoming base for all of us, and I heartily recommend a visit whenever you get the chance. 
 
Join the C4F1 team for highlights of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday 18th July at 6:45pm. Watch race highlights and analysis on Channel 4 from 7:30pm on Sunday.