The Formula One stars are back in action this weekend for a rare back-to-back race weekend. But, it’s the last race before the summer break as the next event following Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix will take place in Belgium on Sept. 1.
Can Mercedes Rebound
2019 has been a dominated Mercedes season. But, they’ve had two instances where they’ve struggled. Austria was bad as was last weekend’s race in Germany. They rebounded after Austria with a 1-2 finish in England. Can they rebound this weekend in Hungary with another top result?
First off, I don’t look at last weekend as something Mercedes should be concerned about. It was a bizarre race weekend. The weather went from blazing hot to rain. We know that the Mercedes cars don’t handle right in either condition.
This weekend, the weather may be more ideal to their liking.
Lewis Hamilton won this race last year and in fact, has won twice in the last three years. Furthermore, he has four Hungarian Grand Prix victories in the last seven seasons. He’s also scored five wins in the last seven races on the season in his No. 44 Mercedes.
I like his chances.
His teammate in Valtteri Bottas I don’t necessarily like his. He’s never won in Hungary, nor has he even finished second. His best result was third in 2017. That’s his lone podium in six Hungary tries. Last year,he finished fifth.
Will Hamilton Open The Door Even Further On Championship?
Hamilton opened up the door last weekend with a ninth place finish. Unfortunately, no one other than Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel capitalized. Bottas and Charles LeClerc crashed out.
Now, will the door open again?
Hamilton has won four of the last seven Hungarian Grand Prix’s but it’s all or nothing for him there. If he’s not winning, he’s not contending. In the races he didn’t win, he finished fifth, DNF, fourth, third, sixth and fourth respectively. He has finished fifth or worse in the last three races on the season.
Vettel meanwhile has traded wins with Hamilton in Hungary. They’ve alternated wins the last four years. It’s the German’s turn to win this year. He has three top two finishes in his last four Hungary starts. He had a runner-up last weekend. He may have a shot to close the gap even more. He currently trails Hamilton by 84 points.
His teammate LeClerc is fifth in the standings (-105) but is coming off of a 17th place results in Germany. He didn’t finish last year’s race in Hungary either. But, he has brought his No. 16 Ferrari home on the podium in four of his last five races and he showed immense speed last week. He’s capable of closing the gap as well.
To me, the biggest factor is Verstappen. He’s won two of the last three races on the season and hasn’t finished worst than fifth all year. In Hungary, he has three top five’s in four tries but no podiums. I expect that to change. He enters this weekend 63 points out and only 22 points behind Bottas for second. If he can close the gap even more, Verstappen can be a challenger to Hamilton later on in the year.
“Big 3” Still Ones To Beat
The podium last weekend was strange. Heck, the entire top five was off. But, I don’t think we see another race like that on Sunday. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have won the last 12 races in Hungary and every race in the hybrid era. I think they win again on Sunday.
Sainz Jr. Streaking
McLaren is the best of the rest teams and that should continue this weekend. Carlos Sainz Jr. is their lead driver with four straight top eight finishes and seven of the last eight overall. He’s also had three straight top 10 finishes in Hungary as well. Look for his No. 55 McLaren-Renault to be in contention on Sunday.
Honda Eyeing Another Solid Weekend
For the first time in decades, Honda put two cars on an F1 podium. In fact, they had half of the top six of the finishing order. Can that continue this weekend too? I don’t know if they can beat the Ferrari’s and Mercedes duos on pure speed, but if luck goes their way, they can at least get all four cars scoring points.