The heat will well and truly on this weekend in Hungary, as F1 returns from a three week break for a brief few days before disappearing again for another month.
The Hungaroring sits on the calendar like an island away from any other race. It’s the only race in a span of 7 weeks, meaning it will have more focus on it as we lead up to the summer break. Performances here will be crucial in terms of not only the title race, but also dictating where all the cards will fall when it comes to driver signings in 2012.
It’s been a fair while since some drivers saw any action – and it’s absolutely none, in the case of the Mercedes pair – even with the inclusion of the “Young” Drivers Test at Silverstone. As with anything F1 related these days, all it did was raise more questions.
Chief among them will be the verdict given by the teams on the yet-again redesigned Pirelli tyres of this season. With 2013 compounds now being constructed the way they were last season, Pirelli expect an increase in performance with a steady reduction in grip, which is what they should have done in the first place. Pushing the boundaries led to this – and the teams forced their hand after all. At least the reaction has been positive from them.
Getting back on track, and we’ve been thinking hard in the Sett about one team in particular – Lotus. It’s getting to crunch time in the season for the Enstone based team as they’ll be desperate to prove to Kimi Raikkonen that they’re a better prospect than triple world champions Red Bull. With the heat, the more conservative Pirelli tyre construction and coming off a double podium last time out in Germany. Could the stars align in such away?
The Hungaroring is tight, twisty and dusty, but does provide a challenge for F1 drivers. It’s like Monaco without the barriers, with the slow speed corners proving a different challenge to the usual high-speed cornering you find at many other tracks on the calender. Mechanical grip is the key – what price to bet on a winner from Ferrari (which means Fernando Alonso, let’s face it), Mercedes (which means Lewis Hamilton, if we’re honest) or McLaren (either of them, that’s how bad their season is right now)?
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Badger’s Magic Moment
The race that we can never watch the end of – Damon Hill finished second in 1997 after a heroic drive in his Arrows is curtailed by faulty hydraulics.