Formula 1: crucial weekend in Hungary for Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), before the holidays


Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc disillusioned after going off the road during the French GP at Le Castellet, July 24, 2022.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc disillusioned after going off the road during the French GP at Le Castellet, July 24, 2022. (©POOL/AFP/Archives/ERIC GAILLARD)

“I have to take over if I want to be world champion”: left at fault in France, Charles Leclerc must win in Hungary, last F1 Grand Prix before the summer break, so as not to let Max Verstappen escape the championship for good.

The Monegasque from Scuderia Ferrari would have hoped to have a better summer than the one that is emerging. He knows he lost big in France, when he was leading the race, after going off the track due to pilot error.

Limit breakage

If he remains second in the championship, Charles Leclerc is now relegated to 63 points behind the Red Bull of Verstappen, an easy winner on the Castellet route.

Worse, Leclerc sees the other Red Bull come back from Mexican Sergio Pérez, who is only seven points behind him at the dawn of the last Grand Prix before a three-week break.

Revanchard, the Monegasque will therefore try on the narrow circuit of the Hungaroring, a few kilometers from Budapest, to limit the breakage to defend his place of runner-up, against two Red Bulls well back on track after a complicated start to the season.

Formula 1: Hungarian Grand Prix.
Formula 1: Hungarian Grand Prix. (©AFP/)

The Red Bull breakaway

This season, only Ferrari manages to compete in performance with the Red Bulls… When the drivers of the prancing horse team finish the races.

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After twelve rounds contested since March, the Scuderia, second in the constructors’ championship, is the team with the most retirements (7). She no longer has room for error.

« Things are just more complicated, but the title is not impossible, » assured his boss Mattia Binotto, after the French round.

“The most important thing is to see that we have the potential, (…) there is no reason why we cannot win the last ten races”, he aspired.

However, between the engine failures, the dubious strategic decisions or the errors of Leclerc or his teammate Carlos Sainz, not to mention the talent of Verstappen in a very powerful Red Bull… There are reasons.

A monster of self-control, the Dutchman remains lucid in his quest for a second title, even with such a lead: « In Budapest, I think it’s going to be a little more difficult for us, I think Ferrari is going to be very , very fast « .

Faced with Red Bull (396 points) and Ferrari (314), we also expect the third force, Mercedes (270), back within shooting distance of the Scuderia thanks to the double podium of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Le Castellet.

The German manufacturer has a total of five podiums in the last four Grands Prix – and in this respect does better than its opponents. But still winless this season.

Max Verstappen celebrates his victory with his team at the end of the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet, July 24, 2022.
Max Verstappen celebrates his victory with his team at the end of the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet, July 24, 2022. (©AFP/Archives/ Sylvain THOMAS)

Ocon, the year after

Hamilton, who holds the record for victories at the Hungaroring, could see in France that his Silver Arrow was not at the level of Verstappen’s single-seater. If Mercedes was able to afford this double podium, it is above all thanks to the misadventures of Ferrari (abandonment of Leclerc, penalty of Sainz).

The Hungarian track could also be an opportunity to shine for an outsider, like Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who won his first victory there last season in the premier category.

On the Hungaroring, the Norman, taking full advantage of the clashes of a chaotic start to the race, then had the perfect race. He had withstood three world champions to the end – Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton, 13 world titles between them – and was rewarded, at the end of the suspense, at the wheel of his Alpine.

Alpine, who also won fourth place in the constructors’ standings at McLaren last Sunday on home soil, will she feel the wings in Hungary?

After the warm-up for the three hours of free practice on Friday (two sessions) and Saturday (one), we will have to wait for qualifying on Saturday (4:00 p.m.) to get the first answers.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon in the bucket of his Alpine ready to set off at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, July 9, 2022.
Frenchman Esteban Ocon in the bucket of his Alpine ready to set off at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, July 9, 2022. (©AFP/Archives/Jure Makovec)

Source: © 2022 AFP

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