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2022 Hungarian Grand Prix preview

2 weeks ago

Writer:

Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder

Date:

28 July 2022

After a catastrophic driving error at Paul Ricard that Charles Leclerc will want to forget in a hurry (but is more likely to live long in the memory), he and Ferrari now need to be flawless.

For the remaining 10 races of the 2022 Formula 1 season they can afford not one more driving error, mechanical failure, dithered team order or strategic blunder. Just one more slip up and the championship will surely be Max Verstappen’s. 

On the evidence of the first half of the season, during which Ferrari and Leclerc started from pole position seven times but won only three races, it seems a tall order. Too many times the Monegasque and the Scuderia have thrown away crucial points in their fight with Verstappen and Red Bull, a combination that ticks along as consistently as a metronome. With seven wins to his name already, the reigning World Champion has a commanding points lead. 

Ahead by 63 points, Verstappen almost finds himself in that most luxurious of positions, even before the summer break, where finishing second behind his closest rival for every remaining race of the season will be enough to secure the title. But Max isn’t the sort to settle for the runner-up position and he heads into this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix the favourite to head home again with the biggest trophy. Or does he? 

Verstappen’s race was ruined at the first corner last season

Because the Dutchman has never won at the Hungaroring before and at a tight, technical track that provides precious few overtaking opportunities, pole is paramount – and in that regard, it is Leclerc not Verstappen who has been outstanding so far this year. The weather is likely to play a role too (like it did last year and as the unfortunate Verstappen will well remember) with rain expected for qualifying and a slim possibility during the race. 

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz looks a stronger rear gunner than Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, which could be decisive. And the Mercedes pair? The team isn’t expecting to be on the pace of the front runners in qualifying, but the race is another matter and nobody goes better at Hungary than Hamilton (he’s won the race six times in 10 years). Predictions? After Esteban Ocon won here for Alpine last year, I’m not even going to bother. 

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