Lewis Hamilton will be aiming to win his third straight Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday and fifth overall as he chases Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg for the championship lead in the last race before the summer break.
Mercedes has won nine of the season’s first 10 races and Rosberg leads the drivers’ standings with 190 points, 14 more than Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull is third with 106 points.
If previous results are anything to go by, Rosberg would not seem to have much of a chance to hold off Hamilton. Rosberg’s last three placings at the winding, slow Hungaroring circuit have been going from bad to worse – ninth, 10th and 19th. Hamilton, meanwhile, won in 2012 and 2013 and was fourth in 2011. He also took the top spot on the podium in Hungary in 2007 and 2009.
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"I don’t really have any secrets there," Hamilton said. "I’ve just been very fortunate in that race and it’s a circuit I really enjoy. It’s one where you can really attack … so perhaps it suits my driving style a little bit more than some others."
Hamilton drew much praise for his performance at last week’s German GP in Hockenheim. After crashing during qualifying and taking a five-place grid penalty because of a gearbox change, he started in 20th place and climbed all the way up to finish third.
"I can’t focus more or work harder than I am doing right now," Hamilton said. "The championship is proving a big challenge for me but that’s how I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way."
Emulating Hamilton’s Hockenheim feat in the season’s 11th race in Hungary, however, may be out of the question for any driver because the often dusty track offers very few passing opportunities.
"It’s a unique track because it’s very, very small. It’s like a street circuit," said Rosberg, whose best result in Hungary was fourth in 2009. "It’s tough physically, because it can get very, very hot and you never have any straight lines where you can relax."
With Ricciardo the only other driver to win a race so far this year, the rivalry between the Mercedes teammates has been the season’s main story. In the team standings, Mercedes has 366 points, nearly double Red Bull’s 188, with Williams third with 121.
Four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who won 13 of the 19 races last year, has also demonstrated a consistence of sorts in 2014 – he’s been third, fourth and fifth twice each, with one sixth-place finish and three races he did not complete.
"I like the race and atmosphere at the Hungaroring … even though I have never won in Budapest," Vettel said. "It has some tight, twisty corners and is quite a bumpy track, so you cannot underestimate it."
High track temperatures are expected again this year, though weather forecasts say light rain is likely on Saturday and thunderstorms on Sunday.
After Hungary, the Formula One circuit returns from vacation for the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps on Aug. 24.