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Verstappen to tighten title grip as Ferrari pressure mounts - What to expect at the Hungarian Grand Prix

Verstappen to tighten title grip as Ferrari pressure mounts - What to expect at the Hungarian Grand Prix

Verstappen to tighten title grip as Ferrari pressure mounts - What to expect at the Hungarian Grand Prix

Verstappen to tighten title grip as Ferrari pressure mounts - What to expect at the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungarian Grand Prix brings the first phase of the season to a close but what can you expect from what is often a chaotic weekend?

Max Verstappen arrives at the Hungaroring with a comfortable margin in the championship standings after driver error saw Charles Leclerc retire from the French Grand Prix.

But the tight, twisting Hungaroring is not expected to play to the strengths of the Red Bull with Ferrari and Mercedes set to enjoy the weekend more than the championship leaders.

But without further ado, what can you expect from the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Verstappen's title grip to tighten

Yes, we have already explained that the Hungaroring should not play to the strengths of the Red Bull BUT this does not lessen the pressure on Ferrari.

Verstappen holds a 63-point gap to Charles Leclerc in the standings and if he leaves Hungary with a margin just one greater, he can finish second in every race and still claim the title.

Ferrari and Leclerc will be all too aware of this fact and know that it is crucial to land a blow before the summer shutdown but with this pressure comes the added risk of mistakes.

With over 100 points lost due to reliability problems, driver errors or strategic mishaps already this term, a further misstep now would more than place one of Verstappen's hands on the trophy.

Expect the unexpected

The Hungarian Grand Prix has thrown up more than its fair share of surprises in the past, including last year's thrilling encounter that saw Lewis Hamilton complete a very lonely grid start and Esteban Ocon claim his first F1 victory.

With rain expected to play a part on Saturday, the grid could be jumbled up and with barriers waiting to pounce on any slight error, it is entirely possible that at least one of the regular front runners could start towards the back.

The track has a habit of producing first-time winners too, with Ocon the fifth after Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Heikki Kovalainen.

Could George Russell or another less likely candidate become the sixth?

Hamilton's victorious return?

Somewhat countering the previous point, there is one thing that we have been able to more or less be sure of at the Hungaroring in recent years - Hamilton will win.

The Mercedes driver has won a record eight times at the track, equalling a record shared with Michael Schumacher for the most wins at a single track - Hamilton winning eight times at both the Hungaroring and Silverstone and the German at Magny Cours.

Hamilton is yet to win a race yet this season and should he fail to top the podium this weekend, it will result in the longest wait for a British win into a season since 2006. The last year that no British driver scored a victory was 2005.

The seven-time champion heads to the track in fine form off the back of four consecutive podiums and, with Red Bull expecting a difficult weekend on a track that on paper does not suit its car, he faces arguably his best chance of success yet.

FIA chasms to grow

At recent races, the division between teams has grown with regard to proposed changes to the technical regulations for next season.

The field is split almost 50-50 on the alterations that would see the floor edging and underfloor diffuser throat raised by 25mm, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claiming this would represent "a completely different set of aerodynamics".

The FIA has claimed that the changes are being considered on the grounds of safety as a more permanent solution to the porpoising/bouncing issues that have plagued teams, in particular Mercedes, so far despite the majority of the field appearing to now have a handle on the problem.

It is likely that both sides will want to leave their words ringing in the ears of the FIA ahead of the summer shutdown, meaning there could be a sour atmosphere in the paddock.

Haas upgrades...FINALLY

Haas has remarkably been able to remain in a competitive position despite failing to bring a major upgrade package to the track this year.

However, this will change at the weekend with Kevin Magnussen set to run a full package of new parts.

As the team was unable to manufacture enough parts for two cars, Schumacher will run in more familiar machinery, proving Haas with a full weekend to compare the two iterations in an unexpected back-to-back test.

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