Hungarian F1 Grand Prix 2022: Odds, Preview and Top Storylines
The Hungarian Grand Prix takes place at a vital juncture of the 2022 Formula One season.
Sunday's race around the Hungaroring will be the fourth event in five weeks and the last one before the summer break kicks in.
Red Bull will attempt to win its first Hungarian Grand Prix since 2014 to keep Max Verstappen well in front of Charles Leclerc in the drivers' championship.
Leclerc needs a standout performance in Hungary after a self-inflicted error cost him at the French Grand Prix last week.
Leclerc and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz have been through any blunder you could imagine over 12 races. Ferrari needs a normal race to feel good about itself as a team going into the month-long break.
The Hungarian Grand Prix was anything but normal in 2021. Esteban Ocon captured the victory for Alpine and backmarkers Williams and Alfa Romeo had top-10 finishes each.
The back end of the field will hold a bit more focus on Sunday and for the rest of the season, as a spot on the grid opened up at Aston Martin after Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement on Thursday.
The Aston Martin vacancy could create more motivation for some drivers looking to move up the Formula One ranks. No succession plans have been announced, and there is no guarantee that a current F1 driver will take that spot, but until it is filled, speculation will run rampant about it.
Hungarian Grand Prix Odds
Charles Leclerc (+135; bet $100 to win $135)
Max Verstappen (+140)
Carlos Sainz (+600)
Lewis Hamilton (+900)
Sergio Perez (+1900)
George Russell (+2500)
Fernando Alonso (+20000)
Lando Norris (+20000)
Daniel Ricciardo (+30000)
Esteban Ocon (+30000)
How Will Charles Leclerc Rebound from DNF?
Charles Leclerc will be looking to rebound from a bad performance to keep himself in the hunt for the driver's title.
Leclerc suffered his third retirement of the season at the French Grand Prix, this time because of a driver error that forced him off track and into a barrier on Lap 18.
The Monegasque driver has three retirements—two because of mechanical issues—and a single top-three finish over the last seven races. That is far from an ideal set of results for a championship contender.
Ferrari's lead driver is 63 points adrift of Max Verstappen in the drivers' championship. That feels like an insurmountable lead given the consistency of the Red Bull cars in 2022. The team based in Milton Keynes has only had one retirement because of reliability in the last nine races.
Leclerc has had no problem earning pole positions on Saturdays. He has the most poles with seven so far this season but race days have presented all sorts of trouble.
Whether it be mechanical errors, driver errors or poor pit strategy, Ferrari can't seem to get out of its way and it needs a quiet, normal race to gain some momentum heading into the summer break.
Leclerc needs to earn his first victory in Hungary this weekend. Despite Ferrari’s continuing troubles, even a podium finish wouldn’t be a sufficient result regardless of their lack of podium finishes in the past few months.
As long as Leclerc can produce his fourth win of the season, he should have some confidence in his attempt to catch Verstappen over the last nine races, although it will still be a tough task.
Can Mercedes Continue Its Resurgence?
Mercedes have put at least one driver on the podium in each of the last five races.
The two-three finish from Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in France was a welcome sight for a team that struggled mightily to get going in 2022. Hamilton had one podium finish in his first eight races; Russell has performed more consistently this season, only finishing outside the top five because of the lap one incident at the British Grand Prix.
Mercedes will likely not contend for the Drivers or Constructors Championship for the first time since 2013 but the German manufacturer could play a role in hunting down single-race victories.
Mercedes has been the most successful team in Hungary over the last six years. Lewis Hamilton has four victories during that span. The seven-time World Champion has won in Budapest eight times, his joint most victories at any circuit (alongside Silverstone). Meanwhile, Ferrari last won on the Hungaroring with Sebastian Vettel in 2017, and Daniel Ricciardo was the last Red Bull winner in 2014.
Hamilton and Russell will hope to close the one-lap pace between themselves and the top two teams on Saturday, being almost one second behind at Paul Ricard. If that gap is closed, the race pace of the Silver Arrows could point to a first win of the season.
Mercedes clearly has the third best cars on the circuit, and based on the team's recent form, a win is not out of the question like it was at the start of the season.
If Mercedes keeps up its form and Ferrari makes a few more mistakes, the race for second in the constructors' championship could be on once the summer break ends on August 26. Mercedes comes into Hungary with a 44-point deficit behind Ferrari.
How Will Sebastian Vettel's Retirement Affect The Field?
Sebastian Vettel's retirement announcement will have an effect on the midfield drivers and those at the back of the pack.
First and foremost, Vettel has 10 races left in his Formula One career to put on a show for his fans around the world.
Vettel has four top-10 finishes this season, and there should be hope that he can put his Aston Martin into the points positions on a few more occasions before the season ends.
Vettel's retirement confirmed the first open spot on the Formula One grid for the 2023 season.
Aston Martin could look to Formula Two driver Oscar Piastri or others in the feeder-division ranks to partner Lance Stroll in 2023 and beyond.
The younger drivers in Formula One, like Williams' Alex Albon and Haas' Mick Schumacher, could use Sunday's race and other events to impress the Aston Martin outfit. Aston Martin could make their decision during the month-long summer break to focus on Vettel's send-off, or the team could leave the decision until later in the season.
Albon finished in either 12th or 13th in four of the last five races, while Schumacher produced consecutive top 10 finishes at the British and Austrian Grand Prix. Schumacher is also the godson of Vettel, who raced with Mick's father Michael.
Albon and Schumacher are the two most logical replacements from within Formula One, and that could lead to either driver pressing, or taking more risks, on Sunday to impress Aston Martin.
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