The 2022 Formula One season heads to Hungary for the final race of the season before the summer break.
While Ferrari seem to be losing the plot, Red Bull have capitalised on Ferrari’s misfortunes and slowly look to be beginning to run away with the Championship. For the Scuderia, it’s now or never if they want to remain contenders for the Constructors’ Championship.
Now or never
Max Verstappen has a 63-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull have built up an 82-point lead over the Scuderia in the Constructors’ Championship.
Following his crash in France, Charles Leclerc has now retired from a race three times this season starting on pole: Spain, Azerbaijan and France. With ten races remaining in the season, Leclerc would have to do a ‘Sebastian Vettel 2013’, when Vettel won nine races in a row, if he wants to win the Championship.
Following the French disaster, Leclerc is more or less out of the Championship race given how strongly Red Bull have bounced back after the the opening three races; only a miracle can save his season now. Even though Red Bull haven’t been the fastest car on multiple occasions, they have pushed Ferrari to the limit, and, either due to technical issues or driver errors, Ferrari have just continued to implode.
Apart from Leclerc’s error in France, even Ferrari had questionable strategy, which isn’t new. After the French Grand Prix, team boss Mattia Binotto stated that they needed to wipe the slate clean and get a 1-2 in Hungary. Some might think that it’s asking too much, but given where Ferrari are, nothing else will help them. The team and the drivers know they have the fastest car on the track and just need to minimise the errors and be on top with their strategies if they are to remain in the Championship battle with Red Bull.
Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Charles Leclerc
Win prediction: Red Bull / Ferrari
AlphaTauri are currently on a four-race pointless streak. Only Williams have a record worse than that. It is safe to say that the midfield heavyweights, as they were for the past two seasons, have been on a steep downward trajectory this season. They have regularly struggled to be on the pace, and even the major upgrades they introduced in France didn’t help them close the gap to their other midfield rivals.
The Italian team seemingly found some pace in France for the practice session, but Pierre Gasly was woefully off the pace during Qualifying and suffered a Q1 exit. While Yuki Tsunoda suffered retirement, Gasly had a less-than-eventful race which saw him finish P12 and out of the points once again.
Gasly has already voiced his frustrations about the team’s shortcomings. Looking at how their upgrades fared in France, things don’t look too promising for AlphaTauri for Hungary either. Expect the Italian team to struggle once again.
Alpine: The best of the rest
While it has been a downward trajectory for AlphaTauri, their midfield rivals Alpine have enjoyed an upward curve this season. Following their fifth double points finish of the season in France, Alpine now lie fourth in the Constructors’ table, having pipped McLaren at Paul Ricard.
Alpine have been competitive most weekends throughout the season. Backed by Fernando Alonso’s tremendous form, the French team are easily the best of the rest apart from the top three of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. Alonso has been on an eight-race scoring streak. Only Championship leader Max Verstappen has a better run than him.
Despite having been strong, Alpine were wary of McLaren’s pace in France. Heading into the Hungary race, it should be another close battle between Alpine and McLaren. Both teams should do well at the Hungaroring, with the track layout set to suit Alpine a bit better than their midfield rivals.
Podium dark horses: Alpine / McLaren
Race details: When and where to watch (India)
Venue: Mogyoród, Hungary
Practice Session 1 time: 17:30 (IST), 29 July 2022
Practice Session 2 time: 20:30 (IST), 29 July 2022
Practice Session 3 time: 16:30 (IST), 30 July 2022
Qualifying time: 19:30 (IST), 30 July 2022
Main race time: 18:30 (IST), 31 July 2022
Where to watch: Star Sports Network | Disney+ Hotstar