2015 Hungarian Grand Prix: Weekend Preview

After a thrilling British Grand Prix which put the zip back into F1’s step, the sport heads to Budapest in Hungary in search of another classic race to match the equivalent event in 2014, which saw Daniel Ricciardo snatch victory from Fernando Alonso in the closing laps.

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This weekend will, however, be difficult for fans, teams and drivers alike, following a challenging week for the sport after the sad passing of Jules Bianchi.

His friends and family will undoubtedly be in everyone’s thoughts for the duration of the weekend.

The Facts

  • The Hungaroring has been the venue for the Hungarian Grand Prix since F1 made its first trip behind the Iron Curtain in 1986.
  • The circuit is 4.381 kilometers in length and the race will take place over 70 laps. Some drivers have dubbed the Hungaroring as “Monaco without the walls” due to its tight and technical nature, with 78 gear changes required on the average lap.
  • Both Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton have won four Hungarian Grand Prix’s each, with the Briton’s last coming in 2013, and marked his first of many wins for Mercedes.
  • Victory at the 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix saw Schumacher clinch his fourth drivers title, equaling Alain Prost’s total of titles but also matching his 51 win tally in the process.
  • Jenson Button’s first Grand Prix victory came at Hungary in 2006, in what was the first wet race to be held at the Hungaroring.

A fact for bonus anorak points…

Last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix featured 49 overtakes.

Rewind 12 Months

Summer of Smiles for Danny Ric

With a spot of moisture in the air for both qualifying and the race, the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix had the hallmarks of a surprising weekend, with the result being one of the most exhilarating races of the entertaining 2014 season.

Mercedes provided the book-ends for the field after qualifying, with Nico Rosberg starting from pole position while Lewis Hamilton took first spot in the pit lane, due to his dramatic engine fire in Q1. Somehow, the duo soon found themselves reacquainted as a Marcus Ericsson crash-induced Safety Car saw the field switch to the slick tyres, but left the front four to complete nearly a full lap before they finally made it in for their dry tyres. This placed Daniel Ricciardo at the head of the pack and the Mercedes’ trapped underneath Jean-Eric Vergne’s rear wing.

With the eventual front three of Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo preparing for a showdown for the race win in the closing laps, it was the Red Bull ace who was best placed to take the spoils, despite having ceded track position due to making an additional stop. A fantastic move conducted in turn three and executed at four saw the Aussie dispatch Hamilton, while a classic late-braking maneuver elevated Ricciardo past Alonso at turn one and into a well earned first place.

Prediction Corner

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix Predictions

  • Ferrari are likely to have their strongest outing in several races, with the Hungaroring’s characteristics negating the albeit small power deficit they now face to Mercedes. In addition, the soaring temperatures match the climatic conditions which saw Sebastian Vettel take top honours in Malaysia back in March. As such, I predict Vettel to take his second win of 2015 this weekend.  
  • Williams may struggle this weekend compared to their blockbuster performance in the first half of the race three weeks ago. Hungary is famed for having similar characteristics to Monaco, where they were peripheral players earlier this year. They could struggle in the low speed corners and find qualifying particularly challenging if the weather forecast of a Saturday afternoon downpour is proven correct.

Keep track of all my opinions and analysis throughout the weekend, with daily updates featured on this site. Head to my Twitter page for my immediate reaction to events on track and follow F1 Connection for live text coverage.

Image Credit: "Hungarian GP 2013 FP2"
By _chrisUK (via Flickr) [CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0]
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