RACE DEBRIEF

    The 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix is the last race of this double-header and the last race before the F1 summer shutdown. Max Verstappen extended his and Red Bull’s leads at the top of both championships in France – but will they be able to consolidate that lead at the Hungaroring? Join in with the F1 Play predictor game.

    Vying for pole

    Last weekend it was Charles Leclerc who took pole position thanks to a handy slipstream from team mate Carlos Sainz – who was set to start from the back row anyway – which helped to wrestle any potential advantage off Max Verstappen. Given Red Bull’s hefty straight-line speed, that was a shrewd move by the Scuderia.

    Hungary is less dependent on engine power and more dependent on downforce, something that both Red Bull and Ferrari have enjoyed throughout the season. Ferrari, however, might be a bit more confident of securing pole in Hungary, slipstream or not.

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    Leclerc has proven swift on Saturdays this season

    Analysis in France hinted that Ferrari were setting the benchmark in slow and medium-speed corners, an advantage that should serve them well in Hungary. So, both Leclerc and Sainz – who was rapid throughout the French Grand Prix weekend before holding back in Q3 – might be considered by some as favourites for pole this weekend.

    That’s not to say that Red Bull are slouches on the low-speed stuff. It’s just that the ball seems to be in Ferrari’s court this time around. Mercedes were also solid in the slow-speed around France, and with no long straights worth the name this time around, they might be able to challenge for the second row... or higher.

    It would normally be brave to back the Silver Arrows, given Ferrari and Red Bull’s dominance this season. But, with rain on the horizon – a high chance of heavy showers said to hit on Saturday – pole could become a truly open contest.

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    Pole positions in the last five years:

    • 2021 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2020 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2019 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
    • 2018 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2017 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

    FAN VIEW: If you expected F1 Play gamers to desert Charles Leclerc after that high-profile mistake in France at the weekend, think again. The Monegasque has shown all season that the Ferrari has blistering speed in Saturday qualifying, and he is pushing Verstappen hard at the top of the voting so far for Hungary.

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    Could rain cause chaos in qualifying?

    In the mix for victory

    Sixteen of the last 36 Hungarian Grands Prix have been won from first on the grid, so pole position is not essential here; overtaking is difficult but far from impossible. Take Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who won the 2021 Hungarian GP from P8 on the grid – Sebastian Vettel having joined him on the podium before being disqualified in 2021.

    Of course, last year’s race began in damp conditions and two major crashes on Lap 1 took out the Red Bulls. This season, rain is unlikely – but not ruled out – to fall on race day, so while the grid might be jumbled up, the usual front-runners may have a greater chance of clearing any midfielders that they find in their path.

    READ MORE: ‘Beyond my wildest expectations’ – Horner praises Red Bull for dominating first half of 2022

    Assuming this will be a dry race, Ferrari (fired up to score a one-two after their French GP disappointment) may enjoy the high-downforce requirements of the Hungaroring. Although, they were not as strong on race pace as Red Bull in France, and Sunday might be where Verstappen will make up ground if he doesn’t fare as well in qualifying.

    Grid penalties have been trickling in for the past few races, with Sainz and Kevin Magnussen having taken back-of-grid starts at Paul Ricard, but teams generally avoid taking grid penalties in Hungary given its narrow, tight confines.

    READ MORE: Wolff says Mercedes still 'need to work out how to win' despite 'encouraging' double podium finish in France

    Wins in the last five years:

    • 2021 – Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
    • 2020 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2019 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2018 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
    • 2017 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

    FAN VIEW: The voting is perhaps again surprisingly close here, despite the issues Ferrari seems to have finishing races when in control. Verstappen again leads the voting, but only by a few percentage points from the chasing Leclerc. There are a few votes for Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton, but it’s a two-horse race.

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    Ocon took a stunning maiden victory in last year's Hungarian GP

    Podium outsiders

    Mercedes had both cars on the podium in France, Russell and Hamilton genuinely out-doing Sergio Perez on pace while also capitalising on Ferrari’s struggles. This weekend they could genuinely threaten for the podium once again, and, given rain on Saturday, it might not just be the Silver Arrows gunning for the rostrum.

    Yes, Red Bull and Ferrari are still likeliest to finish in the top three, but let’s not count out Alpine or McLaren, both of whom were decent when it came to slow and medium-speed corners in France.

    READ MORE: Norris takes a 'lot of positives' from France despite Alpine edging ahead of McLaren in the championship

    If there is a shock shower of rain on either Saturday or Sunday, the likes of Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso or Esteban Ocon might be gearing up for a surprise podium.

    That said, Mercedes have been comfortably out-pacing the midfielders in recent races and will be hoping this weekend, if there is a chance to do so, to take a fifth consecutive podium.

    Podiums in the last five years:

    • Mercedes – 6
    • Ferrari – 6
    • Red Bull – 2
    • Alpine – 1

    FAN VIEW: Last year in Hungary we had Esteban Ocon for Alpine shocking the world to take top step on the podium, what about surprises in 2022? Well hardly anybody likes the Frenchman’s chances of a repeat, and the only man outside the big six picking up any real F1 Play votes is McLaren young gun Lando Norris.

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    Hamilton seeks a fifth-consecutive podium this weekend

    Points potential

    Both Alpines and both McLarens finished in the points in France, the two teams having entered Paul Ricard level on points before Alpine nudged ahead thanks to Fernando Alonso’s P6 and Ocon’s P8.

    Alonso and Ocon are firing on all cylinders, the former having scored in each of the past seven weekends while the latter shone with P5 in Austria and overhauled Ricciardo in France.

    READ MORE: Record-breaker Alonso says he played French GP 'like a chess game' on way to P6

    As for McLaren, they bolted on a host of upgrades in France but neither driver seemed truly happy with the package. They are still in the fight and it’s almost neck-and-neck between them and Alpine.

    The midfield is, as usual, an open contest. AlphaTauri will be hoping to bounce back; Williams might also be hoping to emulate last year’s double-points finish in Hungary; and Alfa Romeo know they are capable of far better than their run of three consecutive non-scoring weekends suggests.

    Haas didn’t score in France either, but Magnussen is set to receive a considerable upgrade package this weekend and the paddock will be keen to see how that manifests itself, and whether it proves effective…

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    Points in the last five years:

    • Mercedes – 150
    • Ferrari – 126
    • Red Bull – 79
    • Alpine/Renault – 43
    • AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso – 34
    • McLaren – 27
    • Aston Martin/Racing Point/Force India – 24
    • Williams – 10
    • Haas – 8
    • Alfa Romeo/Sauber – 7

    FAN VIEW: Fernando Alonso was again terrific for Alpine in France, taking a fine P6, and gamers love his chances of a strong points finish in Hungary this weekend. There is also some F1 Play support for team mate Ocon, while Sebastian Vettel, Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher are also coming in for good support.