The summer break is within sight for Formula One but there is just one final race, before they can finish up the first term of this 2017 season. As usual, that final race is Hungary.
There are several pointers ahead of a pivotal weekend for every team. Who will head off for their holidays confident of a stronger second half? Who will be rueing the summer break when rather be getting the car sorted out?
Without further ado, here are the key pointers to watch out for during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.
Can Hamilton equalise Michael Schumacher’s pole position record?
Lewis Hamilton loves the Hungaroring, having notched up five wins around this track already in F1. He also has five poles around this track which makes him a fierce favourite this weekend in Qualifying.
Should he achieve a sixth pole on Hungarian soil, it would overall put him level with Michael Schumacher for most pole positions in F1 on 68 poles apiece.
Pressure is on but with a dry weekend forecast, you wouldn’t fancy anyone other than Hamilton for pole.
Poisoned chalice in drivers’ championship
For every driver fighting for the title, Hungary has to top the races that they don’t want to win.
In 31 Hungarian Grands Prix, only seven times has the race winner gone on to win that season’s championship.
With this in mind, Hamilton will surely prefer Valtteri Bottas or Sebastian Vettel to take victory here to all but mathematically dump them out of title contention.
Can McLaren deliver?
Recent weeks have seen McLaren Honda experience an upturn in fortunes.
Stoffel Vandoorne’s Q3 appearance at Silverstone suggests that there is more speed to unlock. Fernando Alonso however took a heavy grid penalty in belief that Hungary is their best chance of scoring points.
Are Alonso and McLaren wise to put their eggs into the Hungaroring’s basket in hope of a double points finish?
Based on last year’s performance here being their best of 2016, its easy to see why they have taken the approach of ensuring that they had no engine penalties to take this weekend.
Personally, I have to say that McLaren are the team to watch out for this weekend.
Will things finally go Force India’s way?
After an excellent start to the season, recent races have been compromised through strategy errors and a teammate collision in Baku.
With just one race before everyone go their separate ways for the summer break, is this the race where things finally go right for Force India?
History has it that Hungary has been Force India’s worst track of the season with only seven points amassed from two point finishes, this decade. For the geeks who want to know when those point finishes were, read on: (Paul Di Resta, 7th, 2011) & (Nico Hulkenberg, 10th, 2016).
History however won’t count for much, if Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon can continue the meteoric heights that have been reached so far this season. As far as the drivers are concerned, both have different experiences of racing here.
Perez hasn’t had plenty of luck here in the past with only a 9th place from his McLaren days in 2013 throughout his F1 career. His only other time in the top ten came in the 2010 GP2 Series Hungarian Feature race.
Ocon on the other hand will relish this weekend, having been on the podium during his European F3 days. He again was on the podium in both GP3 races during his title winning 2015 GP3 Series campaign.
Last chance saloon for Palmer?
Jolyon Palmer has had a miserable 2017 with Silverstone being the sour icing on the cake, after his car broke down en route to grid for his home race. With reports of Robert Kubica returning at Spa in Palmer’s seat, this really could be last chance saloon for Palmer!!
Could these reports be the spark that Palmer needs to unleash his inner speed around the Hungaroring in order to keep his F1 seat alive?
The Brit has definitely shown progress in recent weeks after experimenting with teammate, Nico Hulkenberg’s style. That experiment definitely looks to be paying off but reliability issues could well be the Achilles heel that costs Palmer his seat.
In my opinion, Renault needs to take responsibility for giving the Brit a poor car compared to Nico Hulkenberg rather than put the blame on Palmer for the team’s underperformance.
Then again if this is Palmer’s final race, at least he knows that his seat will be going to someone deserving of it like Kubica. The Pole has had to overcome a career threatening arm injury from 2011 to even get back into a F1 car so would deserve it on merit as well as his talent.
Missed any F1 races this season and want a quick recap? Don’t worry as can take your pick from the following F1 round ups below.