Formula One’s 2021 season has been an absolute cracker so far, thanks in part to the drama of a sport that’s packed to the brim with literal twists and turns. The last race saw Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen lock horns at Silverstone, leading to the Dutchman crashing and many fingers from the paddock and the grandstands being pointed at the Mercedes driver.
The crash left Red Bull with a hefty bill, costing a total of $1.8 million to repair Verstappen’s car, according to the team’s chief Christian Horner.
Now all eyes converge on Budapest and the F1 circuit takes it’s 36th trip to Hungary. Verstappen and Red Bull lead the drivers and construction championships, with Mercedes sitting just four points behind Verstappen’s team. This weekend could see a change of construction championship leaders, depending on the final positions of both the two front-runners as well as their teammates, Sergio Perez for Red Bull and Valterri Bottas on board for Mercedes.
Looking back at last year’s Grand Prix, Hamilton ran away with the race and left himself a 20 second lead over Verstappen in second, allowing him to pit before the end of the race, sealing the fastest lap of the race on slick tyres in the process.
Verstappen will want to avoid crashing before even starting the race like last year, although he did manage to start the race with his car in order. Brits Lando Norris and George Russell only managed 13th and 19th respectively, however Norris’s prolific season paired with McLaren’s change of engine provider from Renault to Mercedes has meant that the 21-year-old has broken into the top echelons of the sport and sits in third place in the Drivers’ Championship table.
Russell, on the other hand, is yet to break into the top ten in a Williams car, but has shown his growth over the season so far, constantly beating his own best qualifying places. He’s proving that his future lies in F1 and maybe a move to a team with more resources could be on the horizon.
The traditional race weekend returns in Hungary, with no qualifying sprint expected this weekend and instead the usual three practices and two qualifying sessions before the race on Sunday.
The Hungaroring tends to see teams adopt a one-stop strategy due to the track’s tight layout, meaning overtakes will be few and far between and DRS zones being limited to just one area of the track. The team’s aero packages will be tested by tight corners and qualifying will be key to predict who will finish on the podium.
Regardless of the result, expect this battle between Hamilton and Verstappen to rage on until the bitter end of the current season in Abu Dhabi in December.