School’s almost out for summer in Formula 1 as the cars hit the track for the final time until the end of August with Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Drivers’ championship leader Sebastian Vettel produced one of the qualifying displays of the season to score Ferrari’s third pole of the year, heading up a front row lock-out for the Italian marque.
Title rival Lewis Hamilton was left to settle for fourth place on the grid, with his chances of a sixth victory at the Hungaroring looking increasingly slim.
Will the momentum in the championship fight swing once again today? Ahead of the summer shutdown, there’s no better time for a twist to come about.
You can watch the Hungarian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET. CLICK HERE for NBC live stream.
Here’s what to watch for in today’s race.
2017 Hungarian Grand Prix – What to watch for
Ferrari looks to convert qualy advantage into victory
Ferrari’s recent performances had raised doubts about its ability to compete with Mercedes across the rest of the season, with the German marque seeming to pull clear in recent races.
Ferrari was able to turn things around in Hungary on Saturday, the SF70H suiting the tight and twisting nature of the Hungaroring circuit nicely.
It is key for Ferrari to strike back and take full advantage of its edge today. If neither Vettel nor Raikkonen can bring it home and Mercedes captures a third straight win – particularly on outright pace – it would be a sign that this championship is becoming increasingly unbalanced.
Will Red Bull get into the fight?
Red Bull’s pace has been of particular interest so far this weekend. A raft of updates for the RB13 had Daniel Ricciardo feeling like he had a B-spec car underneath him, allowing him to top both practice sessions on Friday.
The pace did not carry through to qualifying as Max Verstappen and Ricciardo ended up P5 and P6, the pair requiring a fightback in today’s race if they are to give Red Bull a second win of the season.
The RB13 looked strong through the long runs, meaning a Red Bull win is certainly not inconceivable. Do we have a four-way fight on our hands today?
Alonso, Vandoorne get chance to break through
Hungary has been a good race for McLaren so far. Having known the tighter nature of the circuit would suit the MCL32 car better – or, more accurately, expose the weaknesses of the Honda power unit less – the team had high hopes, and they were justified in qualifying as Alonso and Vandoorne secured P7 and P8 on the grid.
Alonso’s confidence in the McLaren-Honda project has been wavering for some time, but it would be a good boost for him if he can convert the good qualifying result into a decent haul of points.
For Vandoorne, simply getting off the mark for 2017 will be the target today after a disappointing start to his full-time F1 career.
How will di Resta fair?
Paul di Resta’s surprising F1 comeback on Saturday left the paddock deeply impressed as he quickly got to grips with the 2017-spec Williams, qualifying just seven-tenths of a second off full-time racer Lance Stroll.
The Scotsman managed just five flying laps in the car, putting him into another steep learning experience on Sunday as he enters a full race distance – his longest in any form of racing since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix.
While few will expect di Resta to bother the points or have much of an impact, if he can get to the finish and stay in touch with the midfield, it would be a solid, solid statement.
2017 Hungarian Grand Prix – Starting Grid
1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
7. Fernando Alonso McLaren
8. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren
9. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
10. Jolyon Palmer Renault
11. Esteban Ocon Force India
12. Nico Hulkenberg Renault
13. Sergio Perez Force India
14. Romain Grosjean Haas
15. Kevin Magnussen Haas
16. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
17. Lance Stroll Williams
18. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber
19. Paul di Resta Williams
20. Marcus Ericsson Sauber