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Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

We are midway through the 2016 F1 season, and the next race takes place this weekend at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest, Hungary.

With just a single point separating Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, the German stands in the danger of slipping to second in the standings for the first time this year.

Here’s Lovecars’ preview of the race.

Track (Laps: 70)

While the first sector has a few straights with a couple of high-speed corners, sector two and three test the drivers with a combination of medium- and slow-speed turns, which will suit cars with strong poise and a good level of downforce. The Hungaroring has 14 corners and an average speed of 190 km/h, which is 35 km/h less than Silverstone.

Although not a street circuit, the 4.3-km track isn’t very wide, which is why some of its sections have been compared to the Monte Carlo racetrack. Since the corners are tight and drivers require a lot of steering input, tire degradation can be high in warm conditions (although it’s usually medium) and the brakes take a lot of pressure. Overtaking is difficult not only because of the layout but since dust and tiny debris particles tend to collect off the racing line.

The track isn’t very busy for most of the year so expect some asphalt evolution over the weekend, especially during qualifying.

Apart from F1, the Hungaroring has been home to the WTCC and DTM races and every month, a public drag race event is held there. 

Weather

According to UBIMET, Friday and Saturday will be dry, but there’s a risk of showers on Sunday. 

Things to Watch out for

Red Bull’s Second Win of the Season: The RB12 has the ideal package to perform well in Hungary and the Austrian outfit has a strong history around Hungaroring. Both the Red Bull drivers finished on the podium in 2015 and a year before that Ricciardo pulled off a stunning win in Budapest by overtaking Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the closing stages on worn rubber. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has stated how he is wary of Red Bull’s challenge this weekend and I am betting on Daniel Ricciardo to take his first win of the season. 

Hamilton to take Championship Lead: Along with Michael Schumacher, Hamilton is the most successful driver around Hungary with four wins to his name. Rosberg, on the other hand, has never finished on the podium. While both will have Ricciardo and Max Verstappen to worry about, Hamilton needs just two more points than his German rival on Sunday to take the championship lead.

Ferrari’s Woes: Although Vettel won in Hungary last year, I don’t see him or Kimi Räikkönen doing the same this weekend. Ferrari’s team principal Maurizio Arrivabene might have said that his team “cant afford to fail” but with Vettel pointing out last weekend that the SF16-H “lacks a bit” with medium- and fast-speed corners, I think it will be quite hard for Ferrari even to get a podium.

Apple Rumors: We recently reported that Apple is eyeing to buy leading stake in F1 for $7.9 billion. The tech giants have a net cash of $161 billion and F1 will not only help it with its upcoming car, called “Project Titan” but also boost sales of Apple TV. Watch out for updates regarding this rumor if Bernie Ecclestone is willing to talks to the press about it. 

What The Drivers Are Saying

Carlos Sainz: “You arrive at Turn 1 at high speed, so you need to brake hard – from 300 to 80kph in about 80 metres. You then get to Turn 2, where you always experience some understeer, which makes it difficult to turn the car into the corner. Turn 3 should be flat in qualifying and Turn 4 is a very high-speed completely blind corner taken in 6th gear. Turns 6 and 7 form a very slow chicane, followed by a medium-speed and then a high-speed one. So this is a section formed by three chicanes that progressively get quicker and our car should be good here. The last three corners of the circuit are difficult, all in third gear. The second sector is the most interesting and enjoyable one to drive.”

Valtteri Bottas: “The Hungaroring is probably the most intense track compared to the other events it falls around during in the season. It’s much tighter with many slow speed corners and a very technical track to drive, so definitely not the easiest. Budapest falls in the summertime and normally it’s very hot. It’s nicknamed the Finnish Grand Prix because there can be tens of thousands of Finns at the race. I always really appreciate seeing the Finnish flag and feeling that support.”

Fun Fact: Of the current drivers, Räikkönen has the most number of podiums in Budapest (seven).  

[Image and Text Sources: F1.com, FIA, F1 Spectator]

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