Hamilton vs Verstappen resumes at tricky Hungarian Grand Prix: what to watch for in 2021 race


Will there be more contact between Hamilton and Verstappen in Hungary?

Max Verstappen during the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

Verstappen has a chance at redemption following Silverstone's DNF

Mark Thompson/AFP via Getty Images

The Hungarian Grand Prix is the final race before Formula 1 splits up for its summer break and there will be plenty to watch out for this weekend.

Red Bull’s successful request for a review into the crash at Silverstone between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will dominate attention ahead of the Thursday hearing. On Sunday, there could be yet more on-track drama between the title contenders.

The Hungaroring is notoriously technical and overtaking is tough enough already without either driver willing to give an inch. Will we see another coming together between the two?

Elsewhere, George Russell could be making his final appearance before being formally announced as a Mercedes driver for 2022. Is this a final chance for Valtteri Bottas to change his employer’s minds about another contract extension?

Behind the title contenders, improved midfield pace offers potential for more drama at the front, here are a few things to keep an eye on during the 2021 Hungarian GP weekend.


Lap one

Lewis Hamilton, Max VERSTAPPEN, 2021 British GP

There will be no quarter given between the two title contenders


Few drivers have proven overtaking is possible around the tricky Hungaroring, but Hamilton and Verstappen are the two that have done it best in recent years.

Hamilton recovered from a pitlane start to finish third in 2014 and Verstappen redeemed himself last year to finish second after hitting the barriers on the way to the grid: both have shown they can get it done in Hungary.

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So if they line up alongside one another on the grid, which isn’t out of the realms of possibility, who will risk the most to get ahead?

Following their coming together at Silverstone, neither is likely to give an inch to the other on track though it’s the Red Bull driver who has the most to lose. Leading the championship, and with the better car this season, Verstappen won’t want to risk this unprecedented opportunity to win his first championship. Hamilton’s best chance of stopping him is to go on the attack.

Both have shown opening lap prowess in the past, with Turns One, Two, Three and Four offering plenty of switchback opportunities so whoever leads into the first corner might not end the lap out in front.

That’s if they can make it round without contact.


Newfound Ferrari pace?

Charles Leclerc, 2021 British GP

Leclerc showed Ferrari has made progress since France, holding off Hamilton for the majority of the British GP

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Thanks to the the drama ahead of him, Charles Leclerc snuck through into the lead of the British Grand Prix and, after the standing restart, retained that lead comfortably from Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Though he ultimately lost out in the final stint just a handful of laps from the end, his pace and that of his Ferrari was very competitive. Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz was also showing promising speed.

Had the Spaniard not had a disappointing sprint qualifying result and started higher up the order than 11th, Ferrari may well have outscored McLaren on its rival’s home turf.

With overtaking being difficult in Hungary and the Scuderia showing that it can take the fight to McLaren in races, having apparently solved the tyre nightmare that plagued Ferrari in France, both teams look set to be fighting for best of the rest once more.

15 points separate the two in the constructors’ standings in McLaren’s favour. Will it remain that way post-Hungary?


Alonso’s points-scoring streak


Alonso is the man in form at Alpine

Grand Prix Photo

Scene of his convincing maiden F1 victory back in 2003, Fernando Alonso has proven quite quick around the Hungaroring over the years.

The Spaniard’s famous 2006 start in wet conditions lives in the memory as he rose from 15th on the grid to sixth position by the end of the lap with some brave and brilliant overtaking.

He showed he still has that instinct, making the most of the sprint qualifying format to rise to seventh and hold that place in the race having started down in 11th.

The Alpine driver has almost two-thirds of the team’s points this season and has bounced back following team-mate Esteban Ocon’s strong start to the season.

Since working in track walks to his pre-race routine this season, he hasn’t finished outside of the points in any race so far. He stands a great chance of extending that streak around a circuit he has plenty of history at.


Pre-summer break battles

George Russell, 2021 British GP

Will Russell be lining up at the sharp end of the grid next year?

Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The Hungarian GP will be the final race before F1 goes on hiatus for a month for its traditional summer break.

It’ll be the last bit of Formula 1 racing until the end of August so you won’t want to miss out on the potential fireworks before teams and drivers go their separate ways for holidays.

Who will be leading the championship by the chequered flag? Can Lando Norris hold onto third in the standings over Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez? Is there a maiden Williams point for Russell in the offing?

Should he score a top 10, it would be a fitting way to sign off for the first half of the season as rumours continue to suggest he’ll be announced as team-mate to Hamilton for 2022 in the summer break.

Is there any way back for Bottas? Unless he pulls off the truly miraculous, his Mercedes race looks to be run.

The four-week gap until Belgium might feel like an eternity but the races will arrive in quick succession from that point on until the end of the season.