The 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix gets underway on Sunday, and three-time race winner Lewis Hamilton will look to tie Michael Schumacher's record number of victories at the Hungagoring circuit, again from pole position.
However, three-time reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel is sure to be among the contenders looking to thwart Hamilton's bid, having qualified second.
The same is true for Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who starts in fifth.
Hamilton has yet to win this season, but this would be a welcome place to notch his first victory of 2013. The 28-year-old would join the historic company of Schumacher at this particular venue, the legend whose legacy Vettel is striving to rival.
Had it not been for Vettel's perpetual dominance, Alonso would likely have had more championships under his belt; he's finished runner-up in the standings two of the past three years.
Below is a brief breakdown of the recent form these three leading drivers have flashed, followed by analysis of their respective outlooks for this Formula One showdown.
The pole sitter for the third time in a row will look to capitalize on starting from the front of the grid to secure his first win of 2013. Hamilton is the most successful active driver at this track, and is in great position to make a decent leap in the point standings.
Hamilton's previous two efforts from pole have resulted in fourth and fifth-place finishes respectively, and he will expect better things this week despite the presence of the prolific Vettel next to him.
As impressive as he was in qualifying at the Hungaroring, BBC Sport's Andrew Benson reports that Hamilton was actually surprised by how well he fared:
I was really surprised to get pole. I was expecting Sebastian to get it and it didn't even feel that great a lap. We've brought some upgrades this weekend and the guys have been working incredibly hard.
Whatever the Mercedes team did to soup up Hamilton's ride clearly worked, especially since the British driver didn't feel all that pleased with his run.
That's an indication of how stellar Hamilton is at this particular track. As far as his outlook, given the quality of preparation he's put in in recent weeks, it appears he's closing in on a victory. Why not in Mogyoród?
To answer that prior brief question with one word: Vettel.
The 26-year-old German has plenty of career left in front of him, and is a seemingly unstoppable force as he leads the points chase for Red Bull once again.
If not for a gearbox malfunction in the British Grand Prix—a race he was leading but was unable to finish—it's feasible that Vettel could have entered Hungary having won on his last three starts.
Just last week, Vettel triumphed in his home race at the German Grand Prix. Since that had to be a source of strong pride, having been in his native land and coming down to the wire with Kimi Raikkonen, perhaps this race could prove to be of less interest to him.
Probably not, though, because Vettel finds a way to produce his best at every stop of the F1 season. Other than the aforementioned mishap at Silverstone, his worst finish of 2013 is fourth.
Don't be surprised if Vettel spoils Hamilton's attempt to get his season on track and knot Schumacher in the record books.
As mentioned before, Alonso's career to date could well be more historically renowned were it not for the incredible consistency and winning of Vettel.
Being in fifth position to start in Hungary isn't exactly what the Spaniard had in mind, but it's plenty close enough for him to threaten the lead throughout.
Alonso admitted that his Ferrari team had been a little out of sorts during qualifying, adding that it was a bit of a surprise that he even qualified in fifth.
Despite being a perpetual runner-up to Vettel, it appears that Alonso is confident of securing some decent points in Hungary and lessening the deficit in the standings to his Red Bull Racing-Renault competitor:
Since winning the Spanish Grand Prix in front of his home crowd, his results have been seventh, second, third and fourth. At least look for that current downward trend to reverse, and for him to grab a spot on the podium in the top-three—and maybe as winner.
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