F1 Raceweek: Can Vettel's Hungary form eat into Hamilton lead?

After crashing out in Germany, Sebastian Vettel will hope his record at the Hungaroring will hold him in good stead.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel   -  Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel will hope to continue his fine record at the Hungarian Grand Prix and make up ground on Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton ahead of the mid-season break.

Ferrari driver Vettel qualified on pole for last weekend's race at the Hockenheimring, but he crashed out as Hamilton fought from 14th to first in Germany and opened up a 17-point lead over his title rival, escaping punishment for a pit-lane mix-up.

The German has won two of the last three grands prix at the Hungaroring, triumphing in 2015 and 2017.

If Vettel emerges victorious in Budapest once more it will be the only circuit where the German has won three times for Ferrari.

Slippery conditions proved Vettel's undoing last weekend but upgraded Ferrari engines recently delivered to the grid have provided a handy boost in performance.

However, it has led to suggestions the Italian manufacturer may be playing fast and loose with the regulations, although Mercedes chief Toto Wolff is focused solely on his team.

Wolff said: "I think what we've seen is that on racetracks that should have suited us - Silverstone and Hockenheim - they had a car that was very good on the chassis side and a power unit that was the benchmark in the field.

"The only reaction we can have to that is not to say, 'What are they doing?' but the reaction should be, 'What can we do in order to accelerate our own development program?'"

With four weeks until the action returns in Belgium next month, it is the perfect time for either Vettel or Hamilton to strike a blow.

Talk of the paddock

The mid-season may be just on the horizon, but Max Verstappen is already thinking about spending time away from the track: "Walking on the banks of the Danube is nice and gives a chance to see both parts of the city, Buda and Pest. I'll always try to fit in a good helping of goulash while I'm in Hungary as I really enjoy this dish, usually on Sunday evening."

Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may have signed new contracts with Mercedes recently, but Esteban Ocon, one of their development drivers, could be heading for Renault next season. Force India's Otmar Szafnauer told motorsport.com: "We like Esteban and he's done a great job for us. At the end of the day, it's our call. If Renault want to pay a bunch of money, I'll consider it!"

There will be a new face in the Renault car after the Hungary Grand Prix, with Formula 2 driver Artem Markelov set to take part in his first official F1 test at the Hungaroring.

STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 188
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 171 (-17)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 131 (-57)
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 122 (-66)
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 106 (-82)

Constructors

1. Mercedes 310
2. Ferrari 302 (-8)
3. Red Bull 211 (-99)
4. Renault 80 (-230)
=5. Force India 59 (-251)
=5. Haas 59 (-251)

RACEWEEK SCHEDULE (all times local)

Friday

FP1 (11:00-12:30)
FP2 (15:00-16:30)

Saturday

FP3 (12:00-13:00)
Qualifying (15:00-16:00)

Sunday

Race (15:10-17:10)

F1 FACT

No driver has won at the Hungaroring more often than Lewis Hamilton, whose record five triumphs came in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2016.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2017: Sebastian Vettel
2016: Lewis Hamilton
2015: Sebastian Vettel

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