Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press
Lewis Hamilton heads to Budapest aiming to continue his fine run of results at the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix after reducing World Championship rival Nico Rosberg‘s advantage to just three points.
Trailing 43 points behind his long-term nemesis earlier in the year following a difficult start to the season, Hamilton has turned his fortunes around with some magnificent driving and has won four of the last five races.
Per Formula One, the Hungaroring is one of the three-time World Champion’s favoured circuits with four wins to his name, however Rosberg will be desperate to halt his run of race wins this weekend.
Here is how you can follow the action:
Date: Sunday, July 24
Race Time: 1 p.m. BST/8 a.m. ET
TV: Sky Sports F1 and HD, Channel 4 and HD, NBC
Live Stream: Sky Go, ALL 4, NBC Sports Live Extra
For a look at the full field of drivers, visit Formula One’s official website.
Per his official Twitter account, Rosberg will be buoyed by the signing of a new two-year extended contract on Friday with the sport’s overwhelming top team:
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) July 22, 2016
The Mercedes duo have dominated Formula One since the German outfit’s emergence at the summit in 2014, and this deal will allow Rosberg to continue to challenge for the top prize in motorsport.
The past few weeks have proven to be difficult for the former Williams pilot, with the 31-year-old featuring on the podium just twice. A third-place finish last time out at Silverstone followed a race win at the inaugural European Grand Prix based in Baku, Azerbaijan, back in June, per Formula1.com.
Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press
Rosberg‘s title challenge has faltered since beginning the season with a historic four-race winning streak. Take into account that he had also won the final three races of the 2015 campaign, and Rosberg was enjoying the form of his life at the wheel.
Per Andrew Benson of BBC Sport, British driver Hamilton is now beaming with confidence after narrowing his rival’s enormous lead at the top of the standings. He was quoted as saying: “I had a 43-point gap, which felt like an impossible mountain to climb and I have climbed it. I don’t want to fall back. I want to get ahead. That’s the next big step.”
Janos Marjai/Associated Press
The former McLaren driver—and his team-mate—were in blistering form in Free Practice 1 on Friday in the Hungarian capital, as the Mercedes W07 showed its true potential.
Per BBC Sport, former F1 driver-turned-commentator Martin Brundle once described the circuit as “like a street circuit without the houses,” on the sport’s first visit.
And the Mercs certainly knew their way around in FP1 as they ended up almost two seconds ahead of closest challenger Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, per Channel 4 F1:
🏁 @LewisHamilton sets the pace in Hungary as @MercedesAMGF1 dominate #FP1 👊 #HungarianGP 🇭🇺 #C4F1 pic.twitter.com/JoLSEakLyz
— Channel 4 F1® (@C4F1) July 22, 2016
However, the second Free Practice session would prove to be more challenging for reigning world champion Hamilton as he spun out on the entry to Turn 11, skidding across the run-off area before colliding with the barriers.
Take a look at the spin with footage caught by F1Writers:
VIDEO: Lewis Hamilton crash at the #HungarianGP #FP2 Lewis is ok pic.twitter.com/Kg3FCBqi1p via @formulaoneclub
— F1Writers™ (@f1writers) July 22, 2016
Car No. 44 was able to limp home to the pits, but Mercedes’ social media team announced there would be no more running for Hamilton with 67 minutes of the session remaining:
UPDATE: #FP2 over for @LewisHamilton. Although he made it back to garage, car needs to be fully stripped & checked after impact with barrier
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) July 22, 2016
So, that left Rosberg to mop up the pieces and claim the fastest time of the weekend in FP2 on supersoft tyres, crossing the line in one minute 20.435 seconds, per Matt Morlidge of Sky Sports.
Zsolt Czegledi/Associated Press
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo trailed by 0.6 seconds, with Vettel three-tenths and the Australian’s team-mate Max Verstappen seven-tenths further behind, respectively.
Who will win the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix?
The Mercedes boys look streets ahead of the challenging pack this weekend, despite prior concern that the circuit would favour the aerodynamically savvy Red Bull. Christian Horner’s team have found joy in circuits dominated by mid-speed corners this year, as shown by Verstappen‘s sensational debut victory in Catalunya.
Per Ian Parkes of Autosport, Hamilton too voiced his thoughts ahead of this weekend’s action, saying:
As far as I’m aware here it’s a downforce and drag-sensitive circuit.
We believe Red Bull design their car to a higher-spec of downforce than we do, because it’s not really needed in most places. Maybe Ferrari also.
So this is a definitely a track where we believe the gap will be very close, which is great for racing, so game on.
Having said this, it is clear the Constructor’s leaders have an advantage and will be aiming to continue their charge at the summit of the standings. As it stands, the race for top spot on the rostrum will once again be between Hamilton and Rosberg in what is expected to be another enthralling encounter on the old-school-style circuit.