The seemingly-unstoppable Max Verstappen’s win streak has dominated the conversation in the 2023 Formula 1 season. The defending world champion will now have a chance to stitch up a seventh successive win as the F1 bandwagon reaches the shores of Hungary.
The Red Bull driver’s chances will be augured well by the fact that he is the reigning champion at the Hungaroring, having won in 2022 with a comfortable seven-seconds cushion over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
With Red Bull plotting upgrades to its cars for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the rest of the grid will be under even more pressure to match up with the defending champion’s pace.
Verstappen began the season trading wins with his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez. But the Mexican soon faded out, mostly thanks to a streak of poor qualifying results, helping the Dutch driver to take a 99-points lead in the Driver’s Championships.
But going into the Hungarian Grand Prix, a lot of attention will be granted to Daniel Ricciardo, who returns to F1 racing after a spell away from the sport. The Australian driver will brand the colours of AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s sister side.
Ricciardo, whose career veered off since he left Red Bull in 2019, replaced Nyck de Vries in the AlphaTauri hot seat.
The Australian driver’s arrival will also ramp up the pressure on Perez -- the Mexican is out of contract in 2024 -- who has struggled, particularly in qualifying sessions recently.
“I think Daniel is viewing AlphaTauri ... he firmly wants to be pitching for that 2025 Red Bull seat. That’s his golden objective. And by going to AlphaTauri, I think he sees that as his best route of stating his case for 2025,” said Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner.
Red Bull’s unchallenged domination at the top has led to a middle-table battle, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin often let to scrap for the rest of the points and podiums.
Fernando Alonso and his side Aston Martin started the season with a string of podium finishes and were the closest in pursuit of the Red Bulls.
But Lewis Hamilton -- who has won at Hungary a record-eight times -- and George Russel with Mercedes have taken up that mantle, helping the Silverstone-based side to second in the Constructor’s table.
A lot of attention will be afforded to McLaren, which took the British Grand Prix by storm two weeks ago. The British team had Lando Norris finish second and Oscar Piastri finish fourth, after a slew of upgrades which clicked into place following a prolonged period of mediocracy.
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