As Formula 1 tries to catch its breath after a thrilling race in Germany, teams and drivers are heading to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The final race before a much-needed summer break, it is an important one for Mercedes as they quickly try to forget the nightmare that was Sunday’s race at Hockenheim.
However, the Hungaroring hasn’t been as kind to the German manufacturer as most other venues, perhaps offering further encouragement to Ferrari and Red Bull.
About the race:
A mainstay on the calendar since 1986, when the Hungarian GP was first held it was a significant event for F1 as the only race to take place behind the Iron Curtain.
Since then, however, it has developed into perhaps one of the most understated races on the calendar with its reputation changing year-by-year.
Originally, the twisty Budapest track became known as ‘Monaco without the barriers’ due to its slow and highly technical layout.
But as the cars have got faster, the higher downforce has turned the Hungaroring into a much more exciting challenge as drivers weave their way through the sweeping turns.
While Mercedes haven’t always been masters of this race, Lewis Hamilton has with a record six wins to his name, including last year when he capitalized on a wet qualifying to claim pole and hold off the Ferraris for victory.
The Briton also claimed his first win after switching to the German manufacturer in 2013, in what would be his only win that year.
While Hungary wasn’t always known for its racing, it has still produced some notable races, including Nelson Piquet’s famous drifting overtake to pass Ayrton Senna to win the inaugural year in 1986.
11 years later, Damon Hill almost provided one of the greatest underdog successes in history with Arrows after passing Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari and leading for much of the race.
Jenson Button held a unique record of winning the only two wet Hungarian GP’s, including his first F1 win in 2006 before doing so again in 2011.
But that was until Daniel Ricciardo produced a brilliant late charge to pass Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to claim his second F1 win in 2014.
Interestingly, Button’s win with BAR Honda in 2006, had been the last success for the Japanese brand before Max Verstappen won in Austria last month for Red Bull Honda.
And with the Dutchman enjoying some momentum after another victory last weekend, can he make it three in four races in Budapest?
Here are my fantasy team picks.
Top Pick: Lewis Hamilton ($31.7m)
Despite the events of Germany and a battle against illness, Hamilton should still start this weekend as the favourite for victory.
The Mercedes chassis is much stronger in low and medium-speed corners than last year and optimizing the tyres is likely to be a key factor throughout.
A close battle with Verstappen should be expected, but providing there are no more mishaps, stopping Hamilton around one of his stronger circuits will be very tough indeed.
Medium pick: Pierre Gasly ($14.7m)
Hockenheim didn’t quite see Gasly continue the form he showed two weeks earlier at Silverstone and his first wet race for Red Bull was tentative to say the least.
However, on what should be a strong circuit for his team and potentially a weaker one for Ferrari, there is a strong chance that the Frenchman can battle for the top six places again at the Hungaroring.
Low pick: Alex Albon ($7.7m)
While it was his Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat who got all the headlines for his podium, Albon was one of the underrated stars of the German GP.
Running well ahead of the Russian, it was a poor lap which included getting caught up with a slow Hamilton, of all people, that effectively dropped him out of the running for the top three.
Still, Hungary is traditionally a race where the junior Red Bull team is very strong and the Thai driver may well be a surprise candidate for top midfield runner.
Kimi Raikkonen ($10.1m)
This weekend may well see a shake-up in the midfield order with McLaren and Renault less suited to the Hungaroring allowing other teams to thrive.
One consistent, however, will be Raikkonen who will produce points results as long as his Alfa Romeo allows it.
Romain Grosjean ($7.8m)
In recent races, Haas have shown signs of better pace providing their drivers don’t crash into each other and that should continue in Hungary.
Grosjean has been benefitting from using the car in the same spec as in Australia and that familiarity has allowed him to be more competitive.
On a technical track like this one, that may well give him an advantage and see the Frenchman challenge for ‘best of the rest’ in the race.