Lewis Hamilton tends to enjoy himself at the Hungaroring but he will struggle to add to his eight previous victories at the circuit at this weekend’s Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix (Race: 2pm Sunday; TV: Live on Sky Sports F1).
Hamilton won in mildly controversial circumstances at the British Grand Prix two weeks ago following a first-lap clash that eliminated title rival Max Verstappen and so brought himself firmly back into the championship picture ahead of one of his favourite races.
Hamilton has triumphed in Hungary in each of the last three and four of the last five years and in total has double the wins of Michael Schumacher, the second most successful driver at the circuit. It is, though, Verstappen who is the most likely victor this weekend and the bookies betting odds for the race agree.
Red Bull have had the edge on Hamilton and Mercedes this year and despite bringing a couple of updates to Silverstone, a circuit in theory well-suited to their package, Mercedes still appeared to be at a disadvantage in race trim. Hamilton certainly couldn’t get near to Verstappen once the Red Bull driver had scampered past at the start of Saturday’s sprint race.
That difference is only likely to be exaggerated at the tight and twisty Hungaroring circuit, a venue that should really suit the Red Bull. Verstappen has finished second in each of the last two Hungarian Grand Prix and he can be fancied to go one better and claim his first ever win there on Sunday.
Charles Leclerc drove a superb race that got him so close to winning the British Grand Prix for Ferrari two weeks ago, only to get overhauled by Hamilton a couple of laps from the end. It was his first podium finish of the year, but he may well have a good chance to add to it with another this weekend.
Ferrari were very strong at the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year at a circuit with broadly similar characteristics to the Hungaroring. Leclerc took pole position only for a mechanical problem to prevent him from starting, while his teammate Carlos Sainz finished second from fourth on the grid.
Sainz, in particular, has tried to play down Ferrari as potential contenders at the front of the field this weekend. He argues that in the modern cars there aren’t as many similarities as there once were between Monaco and the Hungaroring, but even with that taken into consideration this should be one of the circuits best-suited to the Ferrari package.
Leclerc has driven very well this year and backing him to finish on the podium seems a solid play.
It was Valtteri Bottas who filled out the top three at Silverstone in the second Mercedes, ahead of the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, Sainz’s Ferrari, the Alpine of Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.
Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly has had a bit of a frustrating time. After a run of six consecutive points finishes, including a sixth, a couple of sevenths and an excellent third at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in early June, he has taken just one points finish and two points from the last three Grand Prix. He seemed on course for points at Silverstone before a late puncture dropped him down to 11th.
He is, then, happy to reach a circuit where he has always gone well. Gasly won the feature race at the Hungaroring in his title-winning GP2 campaign in 2016 and he has claimed a couple of sixth places there since moving up to F1, for Toro Rosso in 2018 and then Red Bull in 2019. He comfortably outqualified his then teammate Daniil Kyvat at the track last year only to retire with gearbox trouble early into the race.
Gasly has qualified in the top six on seven occasions in the ten Grand Prix to date this year but for various reasons has only twice been able to convert that into a finishing position inside the top six. Hungary might be just the place for his luck to turn. So these are our F1 Hungarian Grand Prix betting tips for this preview: