2017 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview: Final battle before the summer break

After the chequered flag has been waved on Sunday after the Hungarian Grand Prix, the first half of the Formula 1 season will be over, and what a half it has been.

Three years of Mercedes dominance had led to constant criticism that F1 has become boring, but the major rules reset has awoken a sleeping giant from its slumber.

Ferrari’s resurgence has been such, that it has led the drivers’ championship for the first time since 2012 and has mustered a fight in the constructors’.

Sebastian Vettel had led the standings from the first race, and after the British Grand Prix, has just a one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton, with Valtteri Bottas 22 behind his team-mate.

Hamilton was won in Hungary five times before in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2016 and describes the tight and twisty Hungaroring as a go-kart track, whereas Vettel’s sole win was in 2015.

However, the omens for the winner aren’t so good. The last time the winner in the Hungarian GP went onto claim the title was in 2004, when Michael Schumacher and Ferrari claimed the spoils.

What to look out for

In previous seasons, the tight nature to the Hungaroring has served up some of the best races in recent memory, with 2011, ’14 and ’15 being the best examples.

Although Mercedes and Ferrari hold an advantage over Red Bull, the Milton Keynes based team are confident of getting in amongst the two leading teams, having brought a big upgrade package.

Behind the leading trio, the midfield battle will be as close as ever, although Williams may struggle on the layout.

It’s FW40 chassis is more inclined to the high-speed circuits on the calendar, but the team still does hold an advantage over rivals such as Haas, Renault and Toro Rosso.

Meanwhile, McLaren is hopeful that recently found increased Honda performance will enable it to score its best result of a disappointing season thus far, and leapfrog Sauber into ninth in the standings.

The Track

Situated in a natural amphitheatre, the Hungaroring, since its inception in 1986, has been one of the more popular locations on the calendar, especially given its proximity to Budapest.

With slow chicanes and long sweeping corners, the track is downforce dependent and although it is narrow, often sees overtaking.

Turn four is a fast, blind left-hander at the top of the hill, where over the years, many have fallen foul of track-limits on the exit.

Where will I see some overtaking?

Turn one is the prime overtaking spot, where Daniel Ricciardo memorably dived up the inside of Fernando Alonso in the ’14 classic.

A clear run out of Turn 14 is key to launching a move into the only heavy breaking zone on the circuit at the end of the first DRS zone.

The second DRS zone is on the exit of Turn one, on the run down to Turn three.

Under braking for the chicane at Turns six and seven is also a good spot, as is Turn 12 near the end of the lap.

What tyres are Pirelli bringing?

Pirelli have opted to go for the second softest selection it could, with the super-soft, soft and medium compound tyres being available for teams to use.

As ever, the intermediate and wet tyres will be also be taken to Hungary and there is concurrence between the teams on their selections for the weekend.

All drivers have just the one mandatory set of the medium tyres, most of the midfield have opted for 10 sets of the super-soft with two sets of soft tyres.

Those who have opted for nine sets of super-softs have three sets of softs, although Haas have just eight super-soft sets and four sets of the soft tyre.

Will it rain?

The current forecast is that it is unlikely for the weekend to be interrupted by the weather, with temperatures expected to be in the high 20’s, low 30 degree region.

When is it on?

The weekend will follow the traditional European timing schedule, with first practice under way at 09:00am UK time on Friday morning.

Both Qualifying and the race are due to start at 13:00pm UK time on Saturday and Sunday.

As ever, Sky Sports F1 will be showing live coverage of the entire weekend, with Channel 4 showing an extensive highlights package for freeview viewers.

Sky will also being showing coverage of the Formula 2 and GP3 support series.

First Practice – Friday – 09:00am – 10:30am

Second Practice – Friday – 13:00pm – 14:30pm

Third Practice – Saturday – 10:00am – 11:00am

Qualifying – Saturday – 13:00pm – 14:00pm

Race – the 70 laps of the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix gets underway at 13:00pm on Sunday afternoon.

All times UK.