After Austria, Max Verstappen was threatening to run away with this championship. The Flying Dutchman racked up four wins in five races and built up a lead of 32 points over Sir Lewis Hamilton. However, Hamilton and Verstappen’s crash two weeks ago at Silverstone has changed the complexion of the title fight.
Verstappen still leads, but now by only eight points as Formula 1 heads to arguably Hamilton’s best circuit. Sir Lewis has won eight times in his 14 races at the Hungaroring, a stellar record by anybody’s standards. Although, Mad Max will be fired up after the British Grand Prix, so it’s sure to be a fascinating contest. Here’s Sportlight’s 2021 Hungarian GP preview!
The Hungarian Grand Prix has been ever-present on the Formula 1 calendar since making its debut in 1986. The Hugaroring has remained largely the same in the following 35 years and is often called “Monaco without the barriers”.
Qualifying is incredibly important in Hungary because passing is very difficult. The only spots on the circuit where overtaking is common are Turns 1 and 2, which both follow DRS straights. Hungary is also a circuit which rewards alternate strategies, especially when it’s hot like this weekend is forecast to be.
Don’t rule out Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez being deployed tactically by Mercedes and Red Bull, respectively, either. With passing so hard, the Ferrari and McLaren drivers could produce a surprise podium as well.
Hungary has produced some of the best Grands Prix of the modern era. 2014 saw Daniel Ricciardo with a tactical masterclass. The following year saw one of the most chaotic races ever and who could forget Jenson Button’s first win in 2006?
READ MORE: F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: BUTTON ENDS LONG WAIT FOR FIRST FORMULA 1 VICTORY
Last time out
Hamilton was the fastest driver in qualifying, but Verstappen jumped the home hero off the line in the first-ever Formula 1 sprint qualifying race to line up on pole on Sunday. The tables were turned in the race, as Hamilton got the better start off the line and challenged Verstappen for the lead throughout the first two sectors.
The pair tangled into Copse corner, with Verstappen losing a wheel and flying into the barriers with over an 50G impact for good measure. Max was thankfully alright, but his race was over. Hamilton survived but was passed by Charles Leclerc for the lead.
When the racing restarted after the red flags, Leclerc held his advantage over Hamilton. To make matters worse for Lewis, a ten-second pit-lane penalty put him behind Bottas and Lando Norris. Hamilton though, roared on by the British crowd passed the pair and relentlessly chased after Leclerc.
Sir Lewis Hamilton would overtake Leclerc at Copse with a few laps to go and magnificently claim his eighth British Grand Prix victory. Leclerc was a brilliant second, his first podium of the season, with Bottas completing the podium. Norris and Daniel Ricciardo rounded off an excellent day for McLaren with fourth and fifth, respectively.
Carlos Sainz recovered from his Sprint Qualifying off to finish sixth. Fernando Alonso produced an excellent performance to take seventh in his Alpine, with teammate Esteban Ocon in ninth. Lance Stroll was a solid eighth, with Yuki Tsunoda claiming the final point in tenth.
A record-breaking weekend for Sir Lewis?
Hamilton and Mercedes won three of the opening four rounds and it seemed as though both were heading for an eighth championship crown each. However, since the Monaco Grand Prix, the form book had completely turned, with Red Bull winning every race. That has now changed, with Lewis in position to set some huge milestones.
If Hamilton wins on Sunday, it will be his 100th Grand Prix victory and his ninth in Hungary, the most for both any circuit and event in Formula 1 history.
Verstappen will be doing everything he can to stop that happening, though. The Dutchman almost won in 2019 and finished a credible second last year. However, Mercedes are arguably faster over one lap, so it may be the case that Max has to pass Lewis or run a superior strategy to stand on the top step of the podium on Sunday.
With Turn 1 being extremely wide, don’t rule out a last of the late-brakers move from either championship challenger. If that happens, we could well have a new crash to talk about through the summer break.
Practice 1: 30 July 10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)
Practice 2: 30 July 14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 EST)
Practice 3: 31 July 11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 EST)
Qualifying: 31 July 14:00 -15:00 (9:00 -10:00 EST)
Race: 1 August 14:00 (9:00 EST)
All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.
Grid Talk Podcast
If you want more content to preview your Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. George Howson hosted Jack Watson, Alex Booth and Phil Mathew in their Hungarian GP Prixview. Both audio and video versions of the show are available below:
- Top 10 Memes of the 2021 Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix
- Esteban Ocon takes Alpine’s maiden Grand Prix win after a chaotic wet start in Hungary
- F1 2021: Drivers that Need a Good Hungarian GP Later Today
- 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying report: Tatics at play as Hamilton storms to pole!
- 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix – FP1 & FP2 report: Could Bottas upset the title fight?