Leclerc needs luck to face Verstappen again


With Charles Leclerc squandering an opportunity to take more points from Max Verstappen’s championship advantage at Paul Ricard last weekend, there’s only one more chance for him to claw back a bit. of momentum before the summer break.

But while the championship battle up front looks to be getting more and more one-sided, the midfield battle for sixth place looks set to intensify with Haas bringing his first major upgrades package of the season to the Hungaroring.


Here are the talking points for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Can Leclerc fight back before the summer break?

Leclerc had strong chances of victory in France before crashing out

The French Grand Prix weekend could hardly have gone better for Ferrari and Charles Leclerc until the start of the 18th lap of Sunday’s race. Having beaten Red Bull to victory in the previous two rounds, Ferrari had a strong chance of making it a hat-trick of victories at Paul Ricard.

That was until Leclerc’s disastrous crash forced him to retire from a race as he led for the third time in 2022 – the first by his own hand after two technical issues. With Leclerc out, Verstappen duly extended his already comfortable championship lead by a further 25 points, making the prospects of a Ferrari fight back in the second half of the season seem less likely than they had ever been before.

However, with this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix just before the summer break, Leclerc and Ferrari have at least one last chance to regain lost momentum and confidence before heading into the final stretch of the championship. . Ferrari has tended to be relatively stronger in mid-speed corners so far in 2022, and the Hungaroring has that in abundance.

Red Bull were confident they could have beaten Ferrari to the checkered flag in France even if Leclerc hadn’t thrown his car off the road, but losing to Ferrari for the third consecutive race weekend would have been a first for Red Bull in this 2022 season. Will Ferrari head for the break after having once again edged out its rivals, or will Red Bull once again mark its authority?

With a huge 63-point deficit on his rival, Leclerc really needs a change of luck. Fortune was neither on his side nor Verstappen at this track 12 months ago, when the two were involved in race-ruined collisions on the first lap. If either suffers another misfortune this year, Leclerc badly needs it not to be him.

Magnussen finally gets the upgrades

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Paul Ricard, 2022
Only Magnussen will receive the upgraded Haas

Considering Haas has seen a noticeable improvement in form over the past two months, it is somewhat remarkable to note that the team has hardly introduced any upgrades to their VF-22 so far this season. .

Throughout the year the team worked hard at Banbury and Maranello to develop a set of important and reliable upgrades for their car. Finally, during the 13th round of the championship, the team will introduce him to the Hungarian Grand Prix, a race before the summer break.

However, just as Williams installed their upgrades package on Alexander Albon’s car only for two rounds before teammate Nicholas Latifi received the same benefit, this weekend only Kevin Magnussen will be able to race with the newly acquired Haas. revised. Mick Schumacher has to make do with the same specification of the car he has raced and scored in on two of the last three race weekends.

After edging out AlphaTauri to seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner admits that while his team is hungry to climb even higher in the standings, his first goal is to try and stay there. where she is and avoid losing points. to the rivals behind. How far could this new package go to help them achieve this goal?

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Stuck in a rut?

(Left to right): Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri;  Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo;  Red Bull Ring, 2022
Neither Alfa Romeo nor AlphaTauri have scored for three innings

While Haas have picked up points in recent races, the same cannot be said for the two teams that sit either side of them in the constructors’ championship – Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri.

Both midfield teams started the season with a consistent points net that moved them closer to Alpine in the standings in the early races. However, since Gasly’s solid fifth place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, AlphaTauri has failed to score a single point in the last four race weekends. Their pursuit of points was not helped by Yuki Tsunoda crashing into his teammate at Silverstone or Esteban Ocon bumping into Tsunoda on the first lap of the French Grand Prix after a solid qualifying session. But a string of first-quarter eliminations, including a confusing one for Gasly last time out, also hurt their chances.

Valtteri Bottas was a regular Q3 entrant in the first six races of the championship but has failed to reach the final stages of qualifying since the Spanish Grand Prix in May. Zhou Guanyu scored his second points of the season in Canada but since then has been unable to challenge for more top 10 finishes after crashing spectacularly at Silverstone and having a weekend difficult in France with multiple errors and even more mechanical problems.

All of this earns Haas double points in Britain and Austria, edging them AlphaTauri and now just 17 points behind Alfa Romeo in sixth. With Haas finally making improvements to its car this weekend, is sixth place now a realistic goal?

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Ocon one year later

Ocon took his first victory here last year

For the first time in his Formula 1 career, Esteban Ocon will arrive on a circuit this weekend as the reigning winner, having claimed his maiden Grand Prix victory in Hungary last year.

Often that all-important first win can be a breakthrough that sets young drivers on the path to competing for world championships, but there have been many other drivers in F1 history whose first wins end up become the pinnacle of their career trajectories. One year after its impressive performance in delicate conditions,

With a 41-year-old double world champion teammate as a benchmark, Ocon can enjoy more points so far this season and one point more (nine) than Alonso (eight), but the stats Sunday doesn’t tell the whole story. . Alonso currently leads Ocon 7-3 in qualifying sessions where neither driver experienced any mitigating factors, while Alonso has had the lion’s share of bad luck this season, after taking a grid penalty in Spain , retired from two races, was affected by poor Safety Car timing in Canada and had to start from the back of the grid in Austria after an electronic problem prevented him from starting the sprint race.

Can Ocon back up his exploits in Hungary last year with another solid performance this weekend?

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Race rules

(L to R): Sergio Perez, Red Bull;  George Russell, Mercedes;  Paul Ricard, 2022
Will there be more arguments about track limits?

After track limits were the focus after the Austrian Grand Prix, last weekend’s French Grand Prix once again put the rules of racing in the spotlight.

Following a series of incidents at the British and Austrian Grands Prix, the 20 Formula 1 drivers spoke to the FIA ​​and race directors Eduardo Freitas and Neils Wittich to review some recent collisions and incidents and explore why actions – or even no action – had been taken by race management and stewards.

The drivers were fairly universal in their assessment that the meeting had been a welcome one with a positive outcome, but that didn’t stop controversy over the racing rules from erupting in France. Most notably, George Russell was unimpressed that Sergio Perez did not relinquish third place at the end of the French Grand Prix after their chicane clash. The stewards felt that the incident did not merit investigation.

The tight, twisty nature of the Hungaroring is a world apart from other circuits where DRS-assisted drive-bys are the most efficient way to overtake. With a single straight, overtaking opportunities were generally limited in Hungary. That could change slightly this year, with new cars for 2022 allowing drivers to follow their rivals more closely. Perhaps the 90-degree right-hander of Turn 12 will invite late splits this weekend.

With more close combat expected this weekend, there could be even more debate and discussion about what the rules of engagement in Formula 1 are and should be.

Upcoming Attractions

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
The future of Spa looks fragile

As F1 enters its summer break, thoughts are starting to turn to next year. Having been forced to cut this year’s schedule from the planned 23 races to 22, an even longer championship looks likely next season.

No fewer than 24 races are expected to feature on the 2023 F1 calendar. Returns to Qatar and Las Vegas are expected, and South Africa’s Kyalami Circuit is also tipped for a comeback.

But hosting those extra rounds without losing one or more of F1’s classic races would be impossible, as 24 events is the maximum Liberty Media is allowed to schedule under its current deal with the teams. Are Paul Ricard and Spa-Francorchamps facing choppy water? The official word may not be far off.

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Are you going to the Hungarian Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Hungary for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you:

Who do you think will be the team to beat at the Hungarian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can change your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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