Vettel aims for another first in Hungary as rivals must stop his momentum

Sebastian Vettel will be looking to repeat his succesful German GP weekend in Budapest

Sebastian Vettel will be looking to repeat his succesful German GP weekend in Budapest

Sebastian Vettel had never won in July before this year’s German Grand Prix. That box ticked, Red Bull‘s triple Formula 1 champion now has a Hungary voodoo to overcome on Sunday while his rivals figure out how to contain his winning momentum

If the German can triumph for the first time in seven visits on what promises to be a sweltering weekend in Budapest then he will go into Formula 1′s summer break well on the way to a fourth successive title.

This year has already seen the 26-year-old break new ground. He has won his home race for the first time, savoured a first victory in North America and shown his ruthless streak in defying team orders.

Hungary is one of only two races remaining on the current calendar that Vettel has not won – the other being Austin, Texas – and a victory in the heat of the Hungaroring would mean he has won half of the season’s races so far.

Sebastian Vettel pushed on to the Nurburgring grid by his crew

Sebastian Vettel pushed on to the Nurburgring grid by his crew

“Hungary has some interesting memories for me,” he said this week, casting his mind back to only the second race of his F1 career when he joined Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso in 2007 after a debut as a stand-in with BMW-Sauber.

“It was my first race with the Red Bull family. Let’s hope I can add to my memories by winning there for the first time before I go on holiday.”

Ominously for Vettel’s rivals, on previous form he is likely to get even stronger in the second half of the season so every point they can take off him now could be vital.

The championship leader has hit his stride already, scoring 157 points from nine races compared to 100 last year, and won four races after taking just one by this stage in 2012. He is 34 points clear of Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso.

Fernando Alonso and Ferrari chasing hard

Fernando Alonso and Ferrari chasing hard

In the last three seasons, Vettel has come back refreshed after the summer break and put his foot down to win at least three more races – four last year and five in 2011, his most dominant campaign yet.

The introduction of new Pirelli tyres this weekend, after a spate of blowouts at last month’s British Grand Prix led to emergency changes in Germany, could help him further.

Vettel was fastest in a test of the new tyres, which marry the 2012 structure with 2013 compounds to produce less degradation, at Silverstone last week although his main race rivals were absent.

Mercedes, who were not allowed to test at Silverstone as punishment for a ‘secret’ test with Pirelli in June, will have to wait and see but their strength in qualifying up to now should stand them in good stead.

Lewis Hamilton will be targeting his third pole in three races

Lewis Hamilton will be targeting his third pole in three races

Lewis Hamilton is chasing his third pole in a row with Mercedes and has won three times in Hungary but that was with McLaren, who have won six times in the last eight years but are currently a long way from where they want to be, performance wise.

“We have a number of challenges to overcome,” said Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff. “We will need to do extra homework on Friday to understand how the new tyres work with our car.

“Then we will have to get to grips with the high temperatures, a demanding circuit and the soft and medium compound Pirelli tyres.

“During the race at the Nurburgring, we were overheating the tyres and we want to minimise the chance of suffering a repeat problem in Hungary, where the track temperatures will also be high.”

Lotus enjoyed a revival of fortunes last time out in Germany

Lotus enjoyed a revival of fortunes last time out in Germany

Alonso – who took his first F1 win in Hungary with Renault in 2003 – and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen will be hoping their cars’ gentle treatment of the tyres can help them put pressure on Vettel.

“People say the characteristics of our car are not best suited to this circuit and that it will be tough for us to fight for the win here, but I am not sure this is an accurate assessment,” said Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa.

“There have been other circuits where we expected our car to be very strong and it was not and vice-versa,” added the Brazilian, who suffered life-threatening head injuries in a freak accident at the track near Budapest in 2009.

“You need a car that is very stable and that is kind to the tyres to avoid degradation. I think we can be competitive so I’m hoping our weekend goes in the opposite way to what people are expecting.”

McLaren’s Jenson Button is not expecting much but loves the circuit after taking his first F1 win there in 2006 and won his 200th F1 race, with McLaren, “Of course a win in 2013 is going to be difficult but I actually think the team is working very well right now.”

Jenson Button scored his maiden F1 win at the 2006 Hungarian GP

Jenson Button scored his maiden F1 win at the 2006 Hungarian GP

Hungarian Grand Prix Statistics

  • Four different teams have won the nine races so far this year (Lotus, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes).
  • Red Bull’s triple champion Sebastian Vettel is the only driver with four wins in 2013. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg have won two races each. Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen has won one.
  • Alonso has 32 career wins, Vettel 30, Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton 21, Raikkonen 20 and McLaren’s Jenson Button 15.
  • Ferrari have won 221 races since the championship started in 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 38.
  • Mercedes have been on pole six times in nine races. Vettel has taken the other three.
  • Vettel has 39 poles to his credit, putting him third in the all-time list (Michael Schumacher had 68 and Ayrton Senna 65). Hamilton has 29, and Alonso 22.
  • Hamilton’s pole in Germany this month was his second in a row and lifted him level with late Argentine five time champion Juan Manuel Fangio in the all-time lists.
  • Mercedes have locked out the front row in qualifying three times this year.
  • Alonso has not been on the front row in the last 19 races, with his last appearance being his pole in Germany in July 2012. He has not been on pole in a dry qualifying since 2010.
  • Caterham and Marussia have yet to score a point after three seasons in Formula 1.
  • None of the five 2013 rookies has scored points so far.
  • Kimi Raikkonen has now finished a record 26 successive races in the points for Lotus. although scoring systems have changed since Michael Schumacher set 24 in a row.
  • Raikkonen last failed to score in China in 2012. He is the only driver to have scored points in every race this year.
  • Former champions Williams have yet to score a point this season and for 10 races in a row – their worst ever start.
  • Vettel has never won in Hungary.
  • This weekend’s race is the 28th Hungarian Grand Prix. Only the Monaco and Monza circuits have hosted more consecutive grands prix.
  • McLaren have won six of the last eight races at the Hungaroring, which is the slowest permanent circuit on the current calendar.
  • Ferrari have won only five times in Hungary. They have been on pole seven times.
  • Despite the circuit having a reputation as difficult to overtake on, only two of the last eight races there have been won from pole – Hamilton on both occasions (2007 and 2012).
  • Last year’s race had fewer overtaking moves (19) than the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix (23).
  • Hamilton has won three times in Hungary, Button twice. Michael Schumacher won a record four times.
  • Button (2006) and Alonso (2003) took their first wins in Hungary. Button’s 2006 win was from 14th on the grid, still the lowest winning start position for this race.
  • Only one Hungarian has ever competed in the Formula One championship – Zsolt Baumgartner with Jordan and Minardi in 2003 and 2004. He scored a point in 2004.
  • There are two DRS zones to help overtaking.
  • Alonso is 32 on July 29.
  • Hungary will be a 100th race for Force India’s German driver Adrian Sutil.
  • The race marks the mid-point in the season as the 10th of 19 rounds.

(Reuters) Subbed by AJN.

  • Butterfly

    How are Alonso and Ferrari chasing hard when the Red Bull car is a vastly superior package to that red ice cream van?

    Really, people.

    That guy from Audi was right in saying nobody talks about the manufacturers in Formula 1.

  • KC

    Ha ha, another year in F1, another year of Alonso’s car being compared to something slow, and another years of Vettels car being called “vastly superior”.

    There’s nothing wrong with Ferrari’s car and nothing “superior” about the Red Bull one. It’s all down to the respective drivers.

  • Butterfly

    Vettel is garbage compared to Alonso, so you’re just being silly with that comment.

  • Tamburello_1994

    In the end, It’s the DRIVER that matters.

    You can’t garbage your way to thirty ( and counting ) wins and three consecutive championships.

    Ferrari has had PLENTY OF TIME TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT AND THEY STILL CAN’T GET THE JOB DONE.

  • KC

    Let me gaze into my crystal ball …..

    I see the year is 2014 …. Alonso’s car is being described, once again, as a ‘slug”, a “donkey cart”, an “ice cream van”….. Vettel’s car is being described once again as “incredibly quick” and “the best car on the grid”… any suggestion that this state of affairs might have something to do with the men behind the wheel of these cars is dismissed as “garbage” ….

    My clairvoyance is almost scary!

  • Butterfly

    Tamburello_1994:

    Actually, the driver’s hands are tied if the car doesn’t perform. Some can adapt to some of the shortcomings of the car – like Alonso – while others can’t – like Vettel, Massa, and many others.

    The golden rule is: the team with the fastest car wins, and it’s been like that for mos of F1.

  • Butterfly

    There are some who seem to deny Red Bull are dominating the sport as Ferrari did from 99-04. People, is it really that hard to believe that Red Bull have had the best car for five years now? And what’s with this tendency to put the success of Red Bull down to Vettel? Isn’t Newey’s contribution big enough to merit praise from you guys? Or you praise him but not when it comes to denying Vettel is good.

    Well, Vettel isn’t good, not like Alonso/Raikkonen/Hamilton. Vettel is like Massa – remember how Felipe used to fly when he had good cars at his disposal? Those times are gone and now people are giving him crap. In fact, Ferrari are giving him crap for not being on the same level as Alonso.

    You people need to wake up and understand that it’s Newey bringing in the wins over there, not Vettel.

    I’m ashamed to call myself a Ferrari fan. Maranello has been producing Ice Cream vans for five years now while Red Bull has been producing rocket ships.

    My God, I can still remember the RB7…

  • KC

    “There are some who seem to deny Red Bull are dominating the sport as Ferrari did from 99-04.”

    Because they’re not. A driver you don’t like winning is not the same thing as some team “dominating the sport”.

    Barichello was runner up in the WDC in 2002 and 2004. Webber has never been runner up and won’t be this year. In 2002 alone, the Ferrari’s finished 1-2 in races NINE TIMES! In the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons combined, the Red Bull’s have finished 1-2 nine times. Claims that the RB’s of the last few years have been anything remotely like the Ferrari’s of the early 2000′s are simply idiotic and ignorant.

    “what’s with this tendency to put the success of Red Bull down to Vettel?”

    Remind me again, how many titles did Newey win in the ten years between Hakkinen and Vettel? Oh, that’s right. None. Zilich. Nada. So the real question is, what’s with this tendency to put the success of Red Bull down to Newey when that’s clearly not the case.

  • KC

    “My God, I can still remember the RB7…”

    A car so bad that Webber could only win in it once, and that when Vettel let him.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Hi Butterfly.

    You can have the worlds greatest scientist building your rockets but you still need competent astronauts to man them.

    i appreciate your come to Jesus moment about Ferrari and their shortcomings. A bit refreshing after the last two year on this board.

    But you need to give Vettel his due. You can be intellectually dishonest about it all you want but as I said time and again “Stats Matter”. I don’t understand the logic in some folks thinking –

    “Alonso is the best to ever lace them up – But he can’t overcome Ferrari not getting the job done – But Vettel is a complete idiot and only gets by because of the designer of the car? Kinda contradicts itself.

    Besides. I’m confident you have seen enough F1 to know it JUST isn’t the team or the car or the driver.

    It’s the TOTAL PACKAGE.

  • hahaha

    Muhahaha, Fernando thinks he’s Jebus and Lewis thinks he’s Ray Charles :D

  • Look at the scoreboard

    Anyone who says Vettel isnt a good driver is a dickhead. We all know it, hopefully you will too one day

  • Alonso_is_slow

    People should not care about Bitterfly’s comments, he is a well known Alonso mind-slave.

    Fact is Alonso had the better package in many races this year, but he did not use the opportunity.

    Fact is Alonso cannot win without the best car, not against Vettel.

    Fact is Alonso is waist of money for Ferrari, $150m spent and still no results.

    Alonso if a FAIL.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    sorry, ‘waste of money’

  • Butterfly

    Tamburello_1994:

    Of course total package, only design contributes 90 percent to the result. Don’t even try to tell me it’s less than that.

  • Butterfly

    Tamburello_1994:

    How on Earth can you say the RB7 was bad? That must have been the best F1 car in history. It produced so much downforce it almost destroyed the tarmac. It was incredibly easy to set up properly, it had a very slim design with little holes in the bodywork, high rake with flexible front wing. It was beautiful, too.

    It was simple and very efficient, and that made it advanced. I didn’t expect anything to match the RB6 from the previous year, but I was shocked at what Newey came up with the next year.

    Right now, the best team is Red Bull racing due to their ability to design and develop their prototypes. I do feel that Vettel’s holding them back. Had Alonso been there, they would have won at least 12 races per year every year.

    Don’t underestimate Newey’s ability, people. The only man to ever hold him at bay is Rory Byrne, and there’s word he may be coming back to Ferrari next year. Fernando would thus get that illusive fast car.

    And it wasn’t a Jesus moment, you moron. Unlike you, I am a good observer.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Butterfly -

    If you could release your lips just long from Fernando’s crotch to keep your responses straight to the right people would be greatly appreciated. I never said anything about any one car.

    The rest of your diatribe is not worthy of further comment. I’m just gonna let it speak for itself.

  • farizY

    I’d like to think of it as a combination of both drivers and hardware. If damn good driver, gets a hardware that is not to his liking, I doubt he will perform and if a really bad driver gets a superior hardware, I doubt he will perform as well.

    Apparently, at the moment, Vettel is on the right track for a 4th successive title and I hope that Alonso (as being closest to Vettel in terms of points) or anybody else can do something about it to spice things up.