Ferrari in desperate need of victory

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Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari. Photo: Eric Alonso / Getty Images
Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari. Photo: Eric Alonso / Getty Images


Ferrari enters a crucial race day ahead of the summer break on Sunday in Hungary as the Italian outfit looks to rescue their championship hopes that have been dissolving in front of their eyes.

Charles Leclerc will be eyeing victory – and only victory – on Sunday in the Hungarian Grand Prix following his retirement from the lead in France, which left the Monégasque 63 points behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Last weekend in Paul Ricard, Leclerc was left frustrated and angry on the team radio after a subtle mistake at turn 11 resulted in heartbreak with his car planted into the barrier, all but gifting Verstappen victory and a further 25 points.

Sunday’s race around the Hungaroring, though, provides the perfect opportunity for Ferrari to put a significant dent into the Dutchman’s championship lead. The high downforce F1-75 looks poised to be an unbeatable asset in the hands of both drivers, a circuit referred to as Monaco without walls.

READ: Will Mercedes win in Budapest?

Leclerc will no doubt be the favourite to claim victory, but don’t discount Carlos Sainz, who has recently had a real uplift in form – he looked arguably the quickest driver in France but was forced to start from the back of the grid after taking a new engine.

He still played a vital role last weekend by ensuring his team-mate snatched pole position after providing a well-welcomed tow, before fighting back to fifth.

Leclerc aims to bounce back on Sunday: “I will focus 100% on this race, trying to do the best job possible. I think the best possible reaction is to win and that’s exactly what I will try to do!

I feel I am ready for a title battle. If I look at the first part of the season especially, I think it’s been my strongest season ever in F1. I think especially in the race, I did another step up in terms of management.

Elsewhere in the paddock, despite Verstappen’s victory last time out, it’s a former Red Bull driver who is catching a lot of headlines. Only hours after four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel appeared on social media did he announce his retirement from Formula 1.

The German driver will bow out with his head held high at the end of the year at the age of 35. The Aston Martin driver has graced the sport for 15 years, claiming 57 pole positions, 53 race victories, four Drivers’ Championships and a legacy that has changed Formula 1 for the good of the sport.

Vettel said: 

I understood very early that it is a nice changing decision, as I am turning to another corner and don’t know what may be waiting. It feels like the right time at this stage. I know how much you have to dedicate to this sport and how intense it can be, which means I have less time for other things that I cannot ignore any more.

Nevertheless, Red Bull’s eyes will remain glued to today’s race, which seems to be damage limitation for Verstappen.

Anything higher than third will be portrayed as a victory for the team as they look to ensure little is lost in their lead in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of the summer break.

Verstappen said:

They [Ferrari] have so much downforce that they are even faster when sliding back and forth. In Budapest, they will be all over us!

Mercedes enjoyed their first double podium of the year in France after capitalising on the woes of Ferrari. Although the outright pace was not as many expected, as they remained at least three teams off the top duo all weekend.

A surplus of upgrades have been brought to Hungary, which should bring significant pace improvements. It is thought that Mercedes could be occupying the Red Bull’s mirrors this weekend as they look to gain some momentum in the second half of the season.

Despite finishing second last time around, Hamilton was not overly optimistic ahead of Sunday’s race.

“It’s all subjective. Ultimately, yes, our performance, our result was great last weekend, but we haven’t progressed in the sense of we didn’t move the car forwards.

If anything, last weekend, we were further behind but up until now, we’ve relied a lot on others failing. Carlos [Sainz] was not there, obviously the second Ferrari [of Charles Leclerc] was out. We did manage to stay ahead of the other Red Bull. which was great, but we still have a lot of work to do to earn it on sheer performance, so that’s what we’re working towards and we’ve still got a long way to go.

The Hungarian Grand Prix will take place in Budapest, and the drivers will negotiate 70 laps of the 4.381km circuit. Concentration will be key, with several low and medium-speed corners.

Two DRS zones are located around the track, into both turn 1 and turn 2, to help promote overtaking, although, statistically, it can be hard to overtake, but don’t tell Verstappen, as he lost out on the victory in 2019 to Hamilton with just four laps to go.

Lights out promises to bring entertainment, with potentially some wet weather in the air to spice it up.

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