Round 12 of the 2019 Formula One World Championship takes us to the Hungaroring, home of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the traditional final race before the summer break.
The race, more than three decades old, has only ever been at the one circuit, located on the outskirts of Budapest, although the layout has undergone several modifications over the years. The current layout stretches 2.7 miles and consists of an uncompromising succession of corners that tests cars and drivers to the limit.
While such a layout may make the circuit one of the slowest on the calendar (average speeds are about 120 mph), the technical elements still makes it quite a challenge for drivers.
Overtaking is notoriously difficult, putting the emphasis on qualifying well and finding an effective race strategy. Handling and agility is also more important than outright power here, and with all the tight turns, mechanical rather than aerodynamic grip plays a major role, although high downforce is still crucial. In line with this, Pirelli has nominated its C2, C3 and C4 compounds.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at the 2019 Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix
The weather isn't typically much of an issue in Hungary this time of year, though conditions do tend to be very hot. This not only increases thermal degradation of the tires, but makes life harder for the drivers, because the low average speeds (as well as the geographic location of the Hungaroring, inside a bowl) means there is little airflow through the car.
Looking at the forecast, we should be in for warm conditions throughout the weekend and some light rain is expected during Saturday's qualifying session. Fortunately, this should clear up by Sunday's race.
With outright power playing less of an important role, there could be a chance for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to shine. Star driver Max Verstappen was among the fastest during an early practice session on Friday, with Mercedes-AMG's Lewis Hamilton just pipping him toward the end. Close behind was Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
Going into the weekend, Hamilton still has the clear lead in the 2019 Drivers' Championship with 225 points. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas, is second with 184 points and Verstappen is third with 162 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 409 points versus the 261 of Ferrari and 217 of Red Bull. Last year's winner in Hungary was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.