Hamilton in “better shape”
Lewis Hamilton says that he is in “much better shape” for this weekends Hungarian Grand Prix, after feeling unwell at Hockenheim.
The five-time champion and his Mercedes team had a nightmare race on Sunday, where Hamilton slipped from the lead to eleventh on the road before post-race penalties promoted him to ninth.
Following the race, he cancelled all media commitments and went straight home to rest before flying out to Budapest and, ahead of his media engagements on Thursday, the five-time champion declared he was feeling fitter.
He posted on Instagram, “I’m in much better shape coming into the weekend, hoping to be 100 per cent by the weekend. Budapest is beautiful and the weather’s great. Crunch time, let’s go for it.”
Hamilton holds the record for the number of wins in Budapest with six, two more than any other driver. The Englishman heads into the final race before the summer break with a forty-one-point lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas after the Finn crashed out in Germany.
The thirty-four-year-old gained an unexpected two-point haul when both Alfa Romeo cars, which had finished seventh and eighth, were handed post-race time penalties for clutch infringements on the formation laps.
Red Bull believes it’s on the back foot
The “mighty” performance of Mercedes in low-speed corners has left Red Bull in on doubts that the team is facing a tough task to win this weekends Hungarian Grand Prix.
The tight and twisty Hungaroring should be a perfect stomping ground for the Red Bull-Honda package, team principal Christian Horner thinks the form between the top teams this year has changed. He believes that Mercedes has turned its weakness on slow-speed circuits into core strengths.
Asked by Motorsport.com, if he believed Red Bull was the favourites for this weekend, Horner said, “Hungary is a track we enjoy going to. But Mercedes’s slow corner performance is pretty mighty, and I think they’re going to be tough opponents.”
Red Bull has cause for optimism is that it can at least launch a challenge based on the recent progress it has made with its RB15 though. But, Horner is convinced that they have now unleashed some good potential from the car but feels it still needs to add more speed if it is going to regularly challenge Mercedes.
Adding “I think we have been getting more performance on the car. The chassis’s been getting better, the engine’s been getting better and I think we have got some good stuff in the pipeline for the second half of the year.”
Stability next year’s regulations mean what the team learns this season, will apply next year.
although Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko still has his sights set on five wins this year, Horner says he does not want to set specific targets for the team.
Perez confident of Racing Point future
Sergio Perez is confident that he will remain with Racing Point next season, and that a deal will be agreed soon. The Mexican has been with the Silverstone based team since 2014, scoring all of Force India’s five of their podium finishes in that time, and sees no reason to move on at the end of this season.
He told Sky Sports, “I’m happy with where things are falling. I have been a very long time in the team, now with the new administration, I see a great future together and I would like to continue here.”
If “we are able to get a deal done and get everything in place, it’s definitely a great opportunity for both of us to continue. The team would like to keep me, I would like to stay, so I hope that it’s just a matter of days or so before we can get into a” conclusion, he added.
The Mexican is currently in his longest pointless run, equalling his worst run without points, having missed out on points in Sundays chaotic German Grand Prix after crashing out in the wet
Team-mate Lance Stroll, who is also set to stay on for 2020, finished fourth for Racing Point’s best result since his father Lawrence’s takeover of the outfit last August.
Perez added “Going back to the garage and looking at the race, especially at the end, and seeing how many opportunities there were, it hurt me a lot – and still hurts. But just looking forward and hopefully, the second part of the season can offer another opportunity for us to be in contention.”
Alfa appeals Germany penalties
Alfa Romeo has appealed the penalties which were awarded to its drivers and cost them points at Sunday’s German Grand Prix and cost their drivers point finishes.
Both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi finished seventh and eighth in the manic Hockenheim race but the pair were shuffled out of the top 10 four hours later after the team broke the regulations concerning clutch settings before the start.
The penalties promoted Hamilton two places into the points and ninth increasing his championship advantage by two points and allowed Robert Kubica to score his first points for Williams.
Alfa team principal Frederic Vasseur had signalled his team would appeal and the Swiss outfit formally lodged their complaint with stewards at the Hungarian GP on Thursday.
The team were found to have broken a rule in the Sporting Regulations which states that ‘the driver must drive the car alone and unaided’.
In a lengthy technical explanation of why Alfa Romeo had been punished, stewards ruled that ‘the torque in the clutch at the start did not match the torque demand as the driver released the clutch within the specified seventy-millisecond maximum period’.
Adding “In the case of both cars of Alfa Romeo Racing, the time that it took for the torque to align with the torque demand was close to 200 milliseconds and 300 milliseconds respectively.”
Both cars were awarded thirty-second penalties, which were in lieu of ten-second stop-and-go penalties, which would have been given had they been meted out during the race. The pair dropped out of the points to twelveth and thirteenth respectively.
Hulkenberg feels “pain” of German crash
Nico Hulkenberg says he will carry the disappointment of the Herman Grand Prix for a long time, as he insists the punishment of the crash was out of proportion to the mistake he made.
The Renault driver had been on course for his first podium at his home race, where he ran as high as second. However, he was caught out on the controversial drag strip run-off area at the final sequence of corners which also tripped up Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, and Carlos Sainz.
Asked about how long it took him to get over what happened, Hulkenberg said in Hungary: “I think it will still take a little while longer. This weekend, once you are in the car and once you have to work, your mind is off it. But that sting is deep from Hockenheim.
“We rock and rolled for 40 laps. I think I drove a pretty amazing race up until that point and as a team, we did a great job, Mainly me made all the right calls in terms of strategy and tyre choice.”
“Hence we were in the position we were in, which was quite good and unusual for us. Then we saw obviously what happened.” Hulkenberg remains especially unhappy about no grip on the run-off areas.
He says the conditions were very difficult and challenging and everyone was going off at some point or losing control. Hulkenberg says just a wheel over the line and you went off which was out of proportion, while he respects there should be track limits.
Hulkenberg said he went to see F1 race director Michael Masi on Thursday morning in Hungary to voice his unhappiness about the run-off area and reckons that the Australian has revised his views on the drag strip after saying he saw no problem with it after the race.
Time penalties for unsafe releases
The FIA will now impose time penalties for unsafe releases at pitstops following the controversy over the Charles Leclerc incident at the German Grand Prix, according to Motorsport.com.
During the first round of stops at Hockenheim, the Ferrari driver was released into the path of Romain Grosjean, forcing the Haas driver to hit the brakes and subsequently costing him positions. But rather than Leclerc being given a time-penalty for what happened, the stewards elected to hand Ferrari a €5000 fine instead.
That fine for an unsafe release has prompted fears that the fine would prompt more teams to take risks as they believe a fine was not a big enough deterrent.
It has emerged that the matter was discussed during Thursday afternoon’s team manager’s meeting with the FIA, there was a unanimous request for time penalties to be deemed as the only acceptable punishment.
Renault truck crash driver OK
Renault has confirmed the truck driver injured in a crash on the way to the Hungarian Grand Prix has been flown home to recover, as the team confirmed its preparations for the weekend have not been affected by the incident.
One of the manufacturers’ trucks crashed carrying equipment from Hockenheim to Budapest, when it crashed on the M1 motorway near the city of Gyor, around halfway between Vienna and Budapest, on Monday.
Photographs of the accident suggested that the track had hit the central reservation before plunging off the road in to some trees.
A statement said “the unnamed driver has taken to hospital for treatment to his injuries, which were not serious, and a team statement issued on Thursday said he has been discharged and is returning home.”
It explained that the items in the truck had not been damaged and the team’s build-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix could continue as normal. Adding, “The driver of the team truck involved in an accident in Hungary on Monday continues to make good progress & has returned home.”
“The goods transported were not damaged and our preparations for the Hungarian GP have not been affected. We look forward to getting the weekend underway.”
The Weekend Ahead
This weekend is the final round before the summer break, Mercedes will want to bounce back from the disappointing weekend in Germany. Lewis Hamilton has been the best driver here; he holds the record for the number of wins. This circuit suits a driver who is good in the corners and who has the ability to get a grip through the corners, this is an aero circuit rather than straight-line speed.
As in Germany, Red Bull should be stronger, but they are worried about Mercedes in the corners. They shouldn’t have the speed deficit because of the nature of the circuit, but we know Budapest throws up unusually results. So this race normally is unpredictable.
Mercedes should be stronger as the car seems more suited to these corners compared to Hockenheim.
The hopes will be for another classic race, and I think the key thing to create that will be mistakes and accidents as straight forward overtaking is unlikely. This will reward those drivers who are prepared to take risks on track and with the strategy.
The forecast is again looking stormy on both Friday and Saturday, with a dry race on Sunday. This could limit practice running but it could mix things up again this weekend.
You can join us for LIVE coverage of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix via Twitter @F1VaultLive starting with FP1 Friday from 10:45 CEST / 09:45 BST, Qualifying 14:45/13:45 and forward race coverage 14:40/13:40 lights out 15:10 / 14:10