The supremacy of Max Verstappen in the current racing season can be attributed to four crucial factors – his extraordinary driving capabilities and a car engineered with top-class straight-line speed, an extremely efficient DRS system and superb balance while taking turns. These four elements synergised flawlessly to put him on the winning podium at the Silverstone Grand Prix. The upcoming race at the Hungarian track, however, comes with a different set of challenges, with greater focus on low and medium-speed turns and absence of a substantial high-speed straight line.
Despite the advancements in car performance, the Hungarian track is infamous as a bit of a performance leveller – it remains to be seen whether Red Bull would be able to sustain their edge. McLaren, despite a promising race, fell short of the challenge at Silverstone. Nevertheless, Verstappen‘s outstanding feat of racing from the tenth spot to ultimate victory at the Hungarian circuit last year hints at a daunting challenge for his competitors.
While Red Bull‘s straight-line speed has been one of the prime forces to reckon with, the car’s performance over the corners and bumps cannot be undermined. Although the speed advantage will be constrained in Hungary, the car’s handling might get a boost. It was evident during the Silverstone race where the Red Bull performed best in the medium-speed corners. Given the prevalence of such corners in Budapest and a decent DRS zone, Verstappen clearly stands a good chance yet again, the odds stacking 8/25 in his favour.
On the contrary, Mercedes team secured a double podium in Hungary last year. Lewis Hamilton, with a winning record of 50 percent (8 out of 16) at the Hungarian track, along with 11 total podiums, holds a strong position at a probability of 13/1. His teammate George Russell, courtesy his pole position achievement in Budapest last year, could be a potential contender at 24/1.
This year has witnessed 8 out of 20 drivers from six different teams making it to the podium. The newcomer being Lando Norris from McLaren, who finished second in Silverstone. Four different teams have reached the second position in the last four races – McLaren (Norris) in Britain; Ferrari (Charles Leclerc) in Austria; Aston Martin (Fernando Alonso) in Canada; and Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton) in Spain.
The Hungarian Grand Prix is characterised by its hot weather, a factor that could impact the race outcome as it brings out the best in cars and drivers adept at managing their tyres. Sergio Perez, Verstappen‘s teammate, is one of them who is currently at a modest 81/100 odds to finish on the podium.
Fernando Alonso from Aston Martin has had five podium finishes in Hungary. Aston Martin‘s recent form has been disappointing, but the skilled Spaniard might end up being the game-changer. As for Ferrari, their past record at this venue isn’t encouraging. They managed to make it to the podium only once in the previous three years- thanks to Carlos Sainz in 2021. While Charles Leclerc, Sainz‘s team-mate, best finish has been a fourth place in 2019.
All teams have gathered some points in this season, with Alpha Tauri at the bottom of the tally, despite two 10th places by Yuki Tsunoda. Logan Sargeant from Williams and Nyck De Vries are yet to secure any points. De Vries won’t get a chance to do so as he’s been replaced by Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull, who had enjoyed a win in Hungary back in 2014.
Although the Hungaroring track is known for its tight and twisty curves, it has lead to only one car’s elimination on the first lap on more than half the occasions. This track has seen the intervention of a safety car only six times, with the last instance happening in 2017. Forecasts hint at clear skies on the race day, which further reduces the likelihood of a safety car intervention.
Should Verstappen manage to win, he is unlikely to create a wide gap from the rest of the pack, considering the narrow winning margins from the past Hungarian races. The finish might still be a close-run affair.
Please note: The odds are correct at the time of writing.