x

Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 18 August 2018

Max Verstappen in position to dominate the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Red Bull Racing driver good recent form should set up to be a major contender for pole and victory at the Hungaroring

Max Verstappen can aim high in Hungary this weekend. Getty Images
Max Verstappen can aim high in Hungary this weekend. Getty Images

Max Verstappen has broken a lot of records in his three-and-a-half years on the Formula One grid already.

The youngest driver to start a race, win a grand prix, finish on the podium, and score a championship point.

The Dutchman's spot in the F1 history books is already firmly secured, but another record could fall the 20 year old's way at the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend.

One of the few feats yet to be achieved by the Red Bull Racing driver in his F1 career is claiming pole position for a grand prix.

He has started second, but never from the front, but he has a real chance at the Hungaroring of adding that to his list of achievements.

If Verstappen tops the timesheets in Saturday's qualifying session not only would it be his first pole but he would be the youngest pole-sitter in the sport's history.

Sebastian Vettel currently holds the record. He was 21 years and 72 days old when he was quickest in qualifying for the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.

Verstappen will be 20 years and 302 days old on Saturday when he gets in the car for what will be the 72nd race weekend of his career.

Even if Verstappen does not do it this weekend, he still has the chance to pass Vettel's record in the other nine remaining races of the season before he passes Vettel's 2008 age.

_______________

Read more

Sebastian Vettel will remain Lewis Hamilton's focus in Hungary despite Red Bull threat

Bottas and Raikkonen still have important role to play in F1 title fight

Hamilton not Mercedes' No 1 driver despite German GP team orders, insists Wolff

Positives in Germany for Vettel and Ferrari despite costly crash

_______________

But, realistically this is his best chance to do it. The Hungaroring is a low-speed track made up of 14 corners spread around 4.3km, where aerodynamic grip is more important then engine power.

Which is handy for Red Bull as the one thing the Austrian team have is an abundance of grip coming from the RB14.

What they do lack is horsepower, with the Renault power unit clearly struggling in comparison to the Mercedes and Ferrari ones.

The team estimated for instance they were losing up to a second on the straights at Silverstone at the British Grand Prix earlier this month.

The start-finish straight, which is 800m in length, is the only one of any note at the Hungaroring so Red Bull have every reason to be confident of being in the ascendancy this weekend and putting championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Vettel in the background.

Red Bull dominated the only other track on the F1 calendar where a strong engine is not a necessity, Monaco in May, where Daniel Ricciardo won.

The team have also triumphed in China and Austria this season as well, but both of those relied on misfortune for rivals helping to get them to the front.

Monaco was won by the team being the fastest, but this weekend will be an interesting narrative of just how far Verstappen has come in recent weeks.

Monte Carlo was in hindsight a blown chance for Verstappen. He wrecked his weekend by crashing in final practice, when he had been already quickest, meaning he had to sit out qualifying.

While Ricciardo showed what the RB14 could do by taking pole, then winning the race despite having to manage mechanical problems, Verstappen came in for a barrage of criticism, some of it warranted, as he finished ninth instead of fighting for the victory.

Verstappen has responded well since, finishing on the podium at four of the past five races, winning in Austria, and out-performing Ricciardo at every event.

Given Ricciardo is highly regarded within F1, has won seven races, and was a genuine contender for a race seat at both Mercedes and Ferrari, the fact he is being consistently put in the shade highlights just how well Verstappen is driving.

As mentioned, Verstappen was unhappy with the reaction to his Monaco mistake, and largely an inconsistent opening to the season which saw a number of spins and of course a collision with Ricciardo in Azerbaijan in which he deserved an equal share of accountability to his teammate.

But he has subsequently done his talking with his driving and he has been excellent since Monaco.

He should have the car to be a major force in Hungary and he has an opportunity to do something he has never done before, dominate a weekend.

Take pole, breaking Vettel's record will be nice but not the focus, but then control the race from the front.

It is what the best drivers do. When they have the performance advantage they make use of it.

Verstappen has rarely had that and he wasted it in Monaco and that is probably what hurt him more then criticism from the public and media.

He has another chance here and pole on a victory will only underline further the growing feeling within the sport that it will be a case of when, and not if, he becomes a world champion in the future.

RELATED ARTICLES
Recommended