The gloves are off, and we are back to the F1 battleground. The stage has shifted from Silverstone to the Hungaroring that holds much promise to offer another enticing Hamilton versus Verstappen duel.
With Sir Lewis Hamilton taking a record-breaking ninth career pole at the Hungaroring, the most by any driver at the venue, the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix is poised to be an exciting battle. Even more so since Max Verstappen, who’s authored a great challenge to the king of the throne thus far, has managed a third in qualifying.
And perhaps what only exacerbates Red Bull, aggrieved given their plea against Hamilton’s penalty at Silverstone wasn’t entertained by the FIA, is that none of their drivers start from the front grid, with Valtteri Bottas slated to begin second.
A lot of action and drama is poised to be unfurled at Round 11 of the 2021 World Championship, an event where there are a few drivers who’d be determined to up their game.
So let’s find out which drivers need to deliver a strong Hungarian GP?
After sliding outside of the track in Q1, Ferrari newcomer Carlos Sainz Jr., who had been much quicker than Charles Leclerc for the better part of Friday. The talented Spaniard will be keen to pounce on the challenging midfield in the next few hours.
Starting today’s 70-lap challenge from fifteenth on the grid, Sainz will know that he’s got a car that’s nearly as quick as the McLaren. If not in terms of straight-line speed where, one has seen the other Ferrari of Leclerc being challenged, such as in events like Baku, where it didn’t take Hamilton and Mercedes long to pass the pole-sitter.
That being said, having been the better finisher among the two Ferraris, finishing above Leclerc in both rounds at Austria and having gathered a strong P6 at Silverstone, it’ll be brilliant for Sainz to collect a strong race finish at Hungary.
The rookie Japanese driver, who collected points in his very first outing in Formula 1 has shown lukewarm form where the recent events stand. Although, where the last four Grands Prix are concerned, the Sagamihara-born driver managed to beat a more experienced teammate in Gasly on two occasions.
Picture the Steierkmark Grand Prix and the recent race at Silverstone saw Tsunoda finished ahead of Gasly.
Though, for Sunday’s Hungarian contest, Yuki begins from sixteenth on the grid, having failed to put together a strong lap in Q1, from which he was knocked out.
Knowing that he’s got a car perhaps slightly stronger than the Aston Martin and at par with Alpine Racing, Tsunoda should be in a position to contest the packed midfield shortly. But will he improve on his lowly starting position?
Having crashed out in two important races now, one each at Baku and the next, at Silverstone, for no fault of his own, Verstappen, regardless of some of the way he’s been portrayed on social media, will be feeling crestfallen.
Someone who himself stopped the interviewers from hurling him questions related to the Silverstone saga, Max would know he has better things to focus on.
And right now, it’s to find a way to do better than what he managed during qualifying.
Aware that he’s starting from third on the grid and isn’t nearly as close to Hamilton as what he’d have liked in order to pose an early challenge, it will be an interesting sight to see the resilience of Hamilton being challenged by the aggression of a talented and fiery driver.
Moreover, for the sake of extending his lead over the world championship, instead of seeing it shrink, the chances of which are highly likely, Verstappen has to deliver a very fine Hungarian GP. Importantly, it also happens to be a venue where he’s never won a race before.
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The Iceman with his thirteenth on the grid during Saturday’s qualifying provided a moment of reprieve to himself – provided he felt pressure in all this time- and to millions of fans who were rightly distraught at having seen a driver of such fine caliber having been knocked out in Q1 itself for the last four consecutive qualifying battles.
Starting P13, Raikkonen, given his penchant to move swiftly up the grid not long after the red lights turn green, would want to demonstrate a similar act, doing which he could land himself in a point-scoring chance.
Something that hasn’t happened for long, Baku being the last and only occasion where the sport’s most enigmatic and experienced driver scored a point and that too, a solitary one.
Having scored 9 of his 103 career podiums at Hungary, while a top-three finish is about as probable as is imagining the Adriatic sea minus water and fishes, Kimi’s task is clear and cut out- he’s to fight for points and make a possible race finish inside the top 10. Some would reckon even a P10 won’t hurt so much. But is it going to actually happen? We shall have to wait and see.
Grid Talk Podcast
If you want more reaction to yesterday’s qualifying session, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. Ruby Price hosted Steve Jackson and Tom Downey in their 2021 Hungarian GP qualifying analysis. Audio and video versions of the show are both 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?