With track temperatures rising, Tony Jardine is tipping Mark Webber to win the Hungarian GP.
Last Updated: 03/08/11 2:03pm
In the wake of their defeat at the hands of McLaren and Ferrari in the German Grand Prix, both Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel have now urged their team to update their car as fast as they can.
The heat from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso is starting to irritate the 2010 champions just days before the furnace of the Hungaroring, the second part of F1's last back-to-back races before the summer break.
Vettel could only manage fourth and Webber was beaten down to third by a victorious Hamilton back to his fighting best for McLaren and second place Fernando Alonso in the resurgent Ferrari, the worst Red Bull result of the year so far.
There are just days to go before racing starts at the normally tight, scorching track just outside Budapest set in a valley that instantly turns into a dust bowl in the heat.
Vettel's sense of urgency has come across: "The next race is this weekend and it looks like McLaren and Ferrari are just getting quicker and quicker so we need to work harder in order to be back on the podium and maybe stand on the top step again."
The 4.3 kilometre track is twisty, bumpy and a difficult place to overtake with slow to medium speed corners, but it does flow well. Drivers are hoping that the Drag Reduction System rear wing will help them pass their rivals at this 16-turn venue once described by the first winner here in 1986, Nelson Piquet, as an 'overgrown kart track'.
Webber, who started from pole position in Germany and led the race at different times was frank as usual about the tighter situation at the front: "We weren't quick enough. I did all that I could but these guys had a bit of extra margin especially in the latter part of the stints.
"In the last three races it has closed up, we got beaten in Silverstone and in Germany. However we have a great factory and reliability is good. We just have to keep our heads down and press on."
While McLaren and Ferrari closed in at the Nurburgring, Germany was a much colder race. Ferrari were pleased that their new-found aerodynamic edge helped their tyres work better in the cool temperatures while the McLarens revelled in the conditions, propelled by an aggressive yet controlled drive by Hamilton.
The Hungaroring should be baking but it also calls for high levels of down force similar to Monte Carlo, a quality inherent in the Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull. Team boss Christian Horner felt the last race was a wake-up call.
"We cannot back off, no member of our team is backing off at the moment everybody is pushing - flat out!" he said. "Germany was a reminder that we cannot relax but we have been pretty consistent over 10 races whereas other teams have been up and down, we have taken pole at every race and won six out of ten Grands Prix so far but we don't stop, we are in the heart of development right now."
With four different winners of the last four races, twice winner this year Hamilton says it is very difficult to predict what is going to happen. He has to be one of the favourites for a Hungarian win after his two previous triumphs in '07 and '09 and his scintillating performance at the Nurburgring last weekend.
"The moves I made in Germany were some of the most precise I have pulled in a while," he said.
"The win was massively positive for us but there is a long way to go, the next race will be very hard but at least we are back in the fight. I hope we can carry this forward and keep the momentum going."
I believe Red Bull will return to the form they found in Hungary last year when they were dominant. Although fast everywhere, they should excel over the tight twists and turns of the track that was once held the first ever GP race behind the Iron Curtain, a reference to the old communist bloc.
Their highly-efficient aerodynamics should put them back at the front, but I think it will be Webber a nose ahead. Pirelli are bringing the soft and super-soft option tyres to Hungary as they did in Canada, so Vettel will enjoy the extra grip they give - but he will have to watch the degradation if it is very hot.
Ferrari will be in the mix at the front as Alonso believes the softer tyres and higher temperatures expected will help the Italian team: "I am looking forward to a bit more temperature on the track and it should be an advantage to us in terms of how we take on the tyres."
However, Ferrari team boss Stefan Domenicali does not want to endure the drubbing he got from Christain Horner's team last year in Budapest: "We go to Hungary encouraged by our performance at the Nurburgring but I don't forget that this time last year after winning in Germany we were one second off the Red Bull pace! What we need to do now is attack every race and then a lot later we will look to check what is happening in the championship."
It was ultra-close in the race between the top three teams in Germany and it should prove the same this weekend but Red Bull and Webber are my tip for the top. Of course it would be great for Hamilton to win again, or even Button at the scene of his very first Grand Prix triumph in 2006, as he celebrates his 200th GP start. But he has real set-up and grip issues at present, something we have heard him complain a lot about in 2011. He has failed to finish the last two Grands Prix.
Despite the lack of overtaking, this puffed-up kart track has witnessed some epic races not least for the Brits. Nigel Mansell won from 12th on the grid in 1989 after a dramatic late-race pass on Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill nearly won for Arrows in 1997 but his car faltered on the last lap, although he did score his maiden win here in 1993. Spain's Alonso won his first ever Grand Prix here in 2003 - but hasn't won in Hungary since.
Force India drivers should get inside the top 10 following Adrian Sutil's magic sixth in Germany but yet again Paul di Resta got into a tangle with another driver which dropped him down the field - although it was not his fault. Nick Heidfeld was going to be penalised for the clash before he was taken out by Sebastian Buemi.
Sutil and Di Resta were strong in Monaco due to their car being competitive in high down force set-up and this is a Monte Carlo-style tight track, the second slowest race on the calendar.
Sutil, although beaten in qualifying and on occasion in the race by his rookie team mate, drove a blinding German race in his Force India Mercedes powered F1 car, finishing ahead of both works Mercedes who were sixth and seventh with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
The most successful driver in the history of the sport was again disappointing with a spin in the race in front of his adoring home crowd. Michael is running out of time to prove himself able to compete in the new era, although Hungary presents another chance at a track where he was once king with four wins. A good top 10 bet but no more unless he lucks in.
Despite his lowly grid place in Germany, Kamui Kobayashi tigered to a top 10 finish again in the Sauber. He could get into the top six if he improves his qualifying performance.
Lotus Renault boss Eric Boullier has called for his team to raise its game while Jarno Trulli reclaims his Team Lotus seat from Karun Chandhok. Teammate Heikki Kovalainen will be driving at the scene of his first GP win in 2008.
It should be a close call between the top three. Sunday could be cloudy and a little bit cooler which will help the McLarens but look at Webber's crushing win last year, consider his current form and think how he powered to pole at Silverstone a race he won with a forceful performance in 2010.