FORM GUIDE: Is Hungary where the Red Bull fight back begins?

Senior Editor

Greg Stuart

Red Bull might not have had the legs on Mercedes at the Austrian double header that kick-started 2020 – but can they turn it around in Hungary? Will Ferrari feature? And will there be more grumblings about the pace of the Racing Point from the team's rivals? We look at the favourites for the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Vying for pole

Last weekend, Max Verstappen railed against the lack of straight-line speed in his Red Bull RB16. But the good news for him is that we now arrive at the track that was ranked the least power sensitive of all those raced at in 2019 – and where he took his first ever pole position last year, one of just five poles Red Bull have taken in the turbo hybrid era.

READ MORE: Mercedes’ Wolff expecting big threat from Red Bull in Hungary

With data analysis from Friday in Styria showing Red Bull as the best car in low speed corners by some margin, and there or thereabouts in medium speed corners – and with those two typres of corner making up the majority of the Hungaroring lap – we think Verstappen is a great shout to repeat his pole position this year.

We wouldn’t be brave enough to rule out either Mercedes from the running, though, Valtteri Bottas having been just 0.018s off Verstappen last year, while Lewis Hamilton isn’t a six-time pole winner here by coincidence. As for any other team, evidence so far this year suggests it could be a challenge.

Pole positions in last five years:

  • 2019 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  • 2018 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2017 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  • 2016 – Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  • 2015 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

Qualifying: Verstappen flies to first pole position in Hungary last year

In the mix for victory

Mercedes’ unequivocally excellent W11 package was really able to have its head at the Red Bull Ring. But its advantages over the chasing pack should be pegged back at the Hungaroring, where both we, and Mercedes themselves, expect the Red Bull-Honda to be right on a par with it.

Despite often being referred to as a ‘Red Bull track’, Red Bull last won at the Hungaroring way back in 2014. But with Red Bull’s advantage in the low speed corners, Verstappen should be in amongst it this year, along with Hamilton and, to a lesser extent, Bottas, whose best finish here is a P3 – while Alex Albon was a Sprint Race winner here in F2 in 2018, so could be part of that group if he can overcome his race pace woes from Austria.

A victory for seven-time Hungarian GP winner Hamilton, meanwhile, will see him match Michael Schumacher’s record of eight wins at a single venue.

Wins in last five years:

  • 2019 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2018 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2017 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  • 2016 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2015 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

FAN VIEW: Lewis Hamilton’s dominant weekend at the Styrian Grand Prix has clearly restored maximum confidence in the world champion among F1 Play gamers, and more than 75% so far have selected him to follow up at the Hungaroring. Max Verstappen is next on 13% with Valtteri Bottas on 9%.

Hamilton and Verstappen's epic battle in Budapest last year

Podium outsiders

It’s weird – but unfortunately getting less weird – to talk about Ferrari as podium outsiders, but that’s what they will mostly likely be at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The good news for them is that their more downforce-focused SF1000 should have the chance to show its corner-taking stuff this weekend, with medium speed the car’s strong suit judging by the evidence in Austria, while the drag that Vettel complained of at the Red Bull Ring will be less of an issue here.

READ MORE: Everyone worried by Racing Point's impressive pace, says Red Bull boss Horner

We similarly don’t think it’s stretching our necks out too much to put Racing Point into the mix here if they can secure a decent qualifying – a key point, with Sergio Perez not having been in Q3 at the track since 2013, while Lance Stroll has never qualified higher than 17th here.

McLaren could be on the fringes too, with Carlos Sainz enjoying a strong Hungarian GP record, with points at every race since 2016, while the last time McLaren failed to score in Hungary was 2004.

Either way, the Racing Point and McLaren drivers look like good value if you haven't already snaffled at least one of them for your F1 Fantasy team (and if you haven't yet signed up, it's not too late).

Podiums in last five years:

  • Ferrari – 6
  • Mercedes – 5
  • Red Bull – 4

FAN VIEW: F1 Play gamers expect few retirements this coming weekend, with 17 (32%) and 18 (30%) finishers the most favoured choices at this stage. More than 80% of players meanwhile believe the Safety Car will be deployed at some stage on Sunday afternoon at the Hungaroring, despite only having appeared once in the last four years.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Carlos Sainz of Spain and McLaren F1 looks on in the Paddock

Both Carlos Sainz and McLaren have great records at the Hungaroring

Points potential

AlphaTauri seem to be the best package of the lower midfield grouping this year, having scored across both weekends so far in 2020 – and with Toro Rosso having taken points at the last six Hungarian Grands Prix, we think the newly-monikered Red Bull sister team are well positioned to fill out the lower reaches of the top 10 this year.

TRENDING TOPICS: Vettel's future and 5 more talking points ahead of the Hungarian GP

On the back of his excellent performance in qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix, it’s worthy of note that Williams’ George Russell finished a fighting 16th in Hungary last year, ahead of the Racing Point of Lance Stroll, the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi and his own team mate Robert Kubica. A clean race from Russell – and, realistically, a bit of attrition – could see him finally get off the mark in F1.

Meanwhile, despite Renault looking to be a fixture of the upper midfield from their form so far this year, the team have a patchy record at the Hungaroring, having scored just two points here since their F1 return in 2016. They'll hope that having a Hungarian Grand Prix winner in their ranks, in the form of Daniel Ricciardo, will help counter that this year.

Points in last five years:

  • Ferrari – 148
  • Mercedes – 146
  • Red Bull – 107
  • McLaren – 43
  • AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso – 31
  • Renault/Lotus – 8
  • Haas – 7
  • Racing Point/Force India – 7
  • Alfa Romeo/Sauber – 7
  • Williams – 2

FAN VIEW: Romain Grosjean again has the most selections for the dubious honour of first retirement, but he has an unexpected challenger in the form of Sebastian Vettel after the German went out on Lap 1 at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday. At this stage, Grosjean has 25% of the F1 Play votes with Vettel next on 19%.


Coming Up

Coming Up


Hamilton targets Norris and Verstappen on Barcelona race day after ‘huge steps’ put Mercedes back in the mix