When I preparing to write this preview of the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix, I was thinking about ideas for future articles during the impending summer break. I was not expecting one of those articles to be a career retrospective on four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s career. Just before the Hungarian Grand Prix kicked off in earnest, Vettel released a video announcing his retirement from Formula 1. We’ll address Vettel’s upcoming retirement properly in a future article.
However, Vettel’s retirement will take occupy most people’s focus around the Hungarian Grand Prix until the cars hit the track at the Hungaroring or “silly season” rumors take over. However, our preview of the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix will not focus on paddock news and retirement, rather we’re going to focus on qualifying and the likely top-6 finishers in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Lights out for the Hungarian Grand Prix is at 9:00 A.M. EDT.
The Hungaroring: A Karting Track scaled up for Formula 1 cars.
If you have ever been karting or to a karting track, you’re likely aware that turns happen rather quickly and one corner leads to another. The Hungaroring has long been connected with descriptions of a giant karting track. One that is tremendously difficult to overtake. The Hungarian Grand Prix will serve as an interesting test of the 2022 rules, as cars can follow closer, which has led to better racing in 2022.
The Hungaroring seems to favor Ferrari’s race package. Pairing this with Ferrari’s recent form – excusing driver and strategy errors – should lead to a situation where it’s Ferrari versus the entire grid for the top 2 spots at the top of the timing sheets. A question to ask yourself before betting on Ferrari this weekend: what’s more likely a Ferrari victory or some combination of errors or reliability issues handing Red Bull (or maybe Mercedes) another Grand Prix victory?
Will the Hungaroring prove to be as difficult to overtake on as in previous years, or will the 2022 rule set give us a surprisingly exciting race? The 2021 edition was won by surprise winner Alpine’s Esteban Ocon after a chaotic first turn in wet conditions opened up an opportunity for a surprise winner. Ocon was famously helped to victory by incredible defense from a certain Wiley Ol’ Campaigner, who kept a charging Lewis Hamilton behind him for long enough to put Ocon out of Hamilton’s reach and into P1.
The Hungaroring first hosted a Grand Prix in 1986. One lap around the Hungaroring is 14 turns across 2.722 miles (4.381 km). Sunday’s Grand Prix is scheduled for 70 laps for a total race distance of 190.5 miles (306.63 km). The current race lap record is held by Lewis Hamilton in the all-conquering Mercedes W11 from 2020, with a time of 1:16.627.
Qualifying Betting Preview
You might be getting tired of this statement, but it continues to prove to be true and poignant: Charles Leclerc in the F1-75 is electric over a single lap. It is unbelievably difficult to pick against Leclerc to be the fastest qualifier. Unless he crashes or Ferrari’s reliability issues continue to plague the team, it is hard not to pick Leclerc as the fastest qualifier on a track suited to the Ferrari, even with odds like 11/13.
The two likely candidates to out-qualify Leclerc are Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz and defending World Champion, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Frankly, these are the only other picks than Leclerc for the fastest qualifier. Verstappen is listed at 9/4 for the fastest qualifier, while Sainz is listed at 11/2. Considering Sainz’s recent form (and a newer Ferrari power unit), we’re leaning toward Sainz as the fastest qualifier.
Lewis Hamilton keeps moving up the betting odds, despite the Mercedes W-13 still being off the pace. There is a thunderstorm in the forecast for Saturday which may impact qualifying. Wet qualifying conditions often shake up the grid, and Hamilton often shines brighter than most in difficult conditions. This combination might make a pick of Hamilton for the fastest qualifier at 16/1 odds a potential long-shot that can pay off, in the end.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has seemingly lost pace, alongside better support in recent races. Perez is listed as low as 12/1 and as high as 20/1 to qualify first. Mercedes George Russell is closing in on Perez in betting odds, listed as low as 20/1 and as high as 28/1 to qualify first.
Hungarian Grand Prix Betting Preview
Similar to how I opened the previous section, you might be getting tired of this statement: it is incredibly hard to pick against Verstappen to win the Grand Prix. Despite Ferrari’s recent pace improvements, in no way can I in good conscience pick a Ferrari to win a Grand Prix until they have their reliability concerns addressed. Even if reliability wasn’t an issue, the potential for Ferrari’s strategy or driver errors to ruin a pick for the Grand Prix winner are very real possibilities.
Verstappen and Red Bull make very few on-track mistakes. Reliability issues will always crop up here and there, but for the most part, Verstappen and Red Bull have been rock solid in race form. Verstappen is the betting favorite to win the Hungarian Grand Prix, listed at 6/4. Leclerc is listed at 8/5, while Ferrari teammate Sainz is listed at 7/1. The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Russell are listed at 12/1 and 25/1, respectively.
Our Picks for the Hungarian Grand Prix
Fastest qualifier: Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (11/2) (You didn’t see that pick coming, did you? LOL!)
Our top 6 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, with odds for a top 6 finish in parentheses:
P1 – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (2/9)
P2 – Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (2/7)
P3 – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (2/7)
P4 – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (1/4)
P5 – Mercedes’ George Russell (1/3)
P6 – Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (7/1)
The Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix takes place from July 29-31, 2022.
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