The first half of the 2021 Formula One World Championship concludes this weekend with the Hungarian Grand Prix, which once again is taking place at Budapest's Hungaroring.
It will be the first race since the British Grand Prix held two weeks ago, where Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen clashed, causing Verstappen's car to careen into a tire wall at high speed. Hamilton went on to win the race while Verstappen needed to be taken to hospital for a check but was given the all clear later that day.
In contrast to the sweeping and fast corners of the previous round's Silverstone circuit, the Hungaroring is one of the slower circuits on the calendar. The current layout stretches 2.7 miles and consists of an uncompromising succession of corners, requiring a reliance on slow-corner traction and as a result a car's mechanical grip.
This makes tire management particularly important. Pirelli has nominated its C2, C3 and C4 compounds for the weekend.
Hungaroring, home of the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix
Overtaking is also tricky here, and this is an important factor when planning the race strategy, as track position is key. The start-finish straight provides the best overtaking opportunity on the run to Turn 1, a downhill right-hander. The second corner is also downhill, although this time to the left, offering another potential passing place.
Looking at the weather forecast, we should be in for fine conditions during Sunday's race but Saturday's qualifying session could see some storms. Speaking of qualifying, the traditional time-attack format returns after the trial of the sprint race format at the previous round.
After an early practice session on Friday, Verstappen was the fastest, ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton.
Going into the weekend, Verstappen leads the 2021 Drivers' Championship with 185 points. Hamilton is second with 177 points and McLaren's Lando Norris is third with 133 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull leads with 289 points versus the 285 of Mercedes and 163 of McLaren. Last year's winner in Hungary was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.