By Neil Leverett
- Round 11 of the Formula 1 season rolls into the Hungaroring this weekend for the Hungarian Grand Prix
- Max Verstappen retains slim World Drivers’ Championship lead of eight points over Lewis Hamilton
- Tensions remain high between Red Bull and Mercedes after Briton’s controversy-laden win at Silverstone
HUNGARORING – As Round 11 of the Formula 1 season rolls into the Hungaroring this weekend, will paddock tensions resurface once more at the Hungarian Grand Prix?
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Tensions simmer in Hungary
As Formula 1 resumes this weekend at the Hungaroring, feelings continue to boil under the surface between Red Bull and Mercedes ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Still smarting from seeing Max Verstappen crash out of the British Grand Prix after tangling with Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull continue to drag their heels in protest that a 10-second was not sufficient at Silverstone, after seeing the Briton take his eighth victory on home soil.
Bad feeling had already been running rife between both Team principals Toto Wolff and Christian Horner even before the British GP, and what played out a fortnight ago has only served to create a greater sense of ill sentiment.
With accusations of steward interference after Wolff entered the Steward’s room to plead Mercedes’ case in favour of Hamilton, Horner’s ire with his opposite number is growing by the race.
As F1 enters its summer break after this weekend, that might allow the friction in the paddock to cool off somewhat, but with the margins in the Constructors’ race now paper-thin, the Hungarian GP could yet fan the flames further.
Hamilton seeks momentum
Not only have relations between the two head honchos of F1 soured, but so too the chief protagonists in the battle for World Drivers’ Championship.
Though surely expected in the closest title race in year, for Lewis Hamilton, his British GP win was just the tonic for the seven-time champion’s rather stuttering aspirations of an historic number eight, and like with Silverstone, a return to Hungary for the Briton could be further cause for optimism.
With seven victories at the Hungaroring to date, the 36-year-old has taken the chequered flag in the last three seasons on the bounce, but Hamilton still however, finds himself playing catch-up.
A break to follow as documented, that makes this weekend potentially pivotal for the remainder of the campaign – how many times have we said that this term?
Verstappen reveals endurance prep
Max Verstappen meanwhile, is very much still licking his wounds from Silverstone.
Not only feeling the mental but physical implications of his huge 51G smash last time out also, the Dutchman saw his points lead trimmed to just eight points over Hamilton two weeks ago.
Still rather shaken up, Verstappen however, has revealed the literal extra miles he has gone ahead of this weekend in Hungary.
As the Red Bull driver revealed to F1.com, Verstappen took part in last Sunday’s iRacing Spa 24 Hours race to see how his body reacted to the his heavy collision.
Finishing fifth overall with his race squad, the championship leader reported small issues physically, but keen to get back into the real driver’s seat at the Hungaroring, is now raring to go again, and finally end his run in Hungary without a career race win.
“I’m happy to get back on track in Hungary this weekend, especially after the last race result. I’m a little bruised of course but that’s normal after such a big impact but I’m training and feeling good.
“I did a 24hr sim race this week and it was a good test to see how my body would react to spending time sat in one position and behind screens for a long time, I felt absolutely fine which makes me feel positive heading into the weekend. I’m definitely ready to go again!”
Ferrari look to crash party
With a red mist lingering over the paddock, Ferrari could be on hand to throw a little more Italian spice in the F1 mixer this weekend
Though Charles Leclerc was helpless to prevent Hamilton snatching British GP victory last time out, Scuderia are nonetheless looking to continue their impressive recent form, with specific note to having found a consistent and competitive pace on the track.
Recording their second top-six double of the campaign at Silverstone, Carlos Sainz Jr. has really hit his stride also, not finishing lower than P6 during the last three races.
That is turn had spurred Team boss Mattia Binotto to put on a very bullish turn, even jesting that a 1-2 for the Prancing Horse could be in the offing this weekend.
Whilst that is surely a pipe dream, Ferrari’s form cannot be disputed and it should also not be forgotten that Leclerc recorded back-to-back poles in Monaco and Baku earlier this season.
As the time trial qualification format returns after its Sprint inauguration at Silverstone, Scuderia have been strong in Q3 since the move into the summer months, and if they find themselves near the front row again on Sunday, Ferrari might again be a serious threat.
The 2021 Rolex Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at the Hungaroring.
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