2015 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

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The Formula 1 paddock reunites this weekend for the Hungarian Grand Prix in mourning following the death of Jules Bianchi at the age of 25.

Bianchi passed away late on Friday night after a nine-month fight against the severe head injuries that he sustained in an accident at the Japanese Grand Prix in October.

Tributes poured in from all over the motorsport world in the wake of the news, and following his funeral on Tuesday, this weekend’s race has become something of a side story.

I wrote much the same ahead of the Russian Grand Prix last October, the race after Bianchi’s accident in Japan:

“The five talking points below are not worthy of their moniker this weekend. They are not ‘talking points’ because there is only one person we are all thinking and talking about: Jules. None of these themes are overriding, nor do they, in the grand scheme of things, really matter.”

And the same is true this weekend.

However, the show must go on – it is what Bianchi would have wanted. Let us hope for an entertaining, exciting and – most importantly – safe grand prix in Hungary.

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Hamilton seeks a fifth win in Hungary

The Hungaroring has been one of Lewis Hamilton’s strongest circuits in F1. After winning his first race there back in 2007, he has since won a further three races to draw level with Michael Schumacher as the most successful driver in the history of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

This weekend could see Hamilton pull clear with five wins, and it would be an important victory to claim. After suffering three defeats in four races to Nico Rosberg between Spain and Austria, to bounce back with wins in Great Britain and Hungary would give the Briton a healthy championship lead for the summer break.

Can Ferrari spoil Mercedes’ fun?

Without wishing to sound like a broken record, could this be the weekend that Ferrari strikes to claim its second win of the season? The tight and twisting nature of the Hungaroring should suit the SF15-T, and with temperatures edging close to 40ºC, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will be hoping to get in the mix at the front.

The team has failed to live up to recent expectations, though, dropping behind Williams in the dry at Silverstone. Given that the temperatures are expected to fall slightly for race day as well, Ferrari may struggle to fight for a second win of the year.

Interestingly though, whenever Lewis Hamilton has won the Hungarian Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen has finished second…

One year later, much has changed for Ricciardo and Red Bull

“That’s how you do it, ladies” were the words that defined Daniel Ricciardo’s win in Hungary last year. After seeing Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton squabble for position at the front in the wet, the Australian swept past both with ease to charge to his second grand prix victory.

One year later, all hopes of a repeat must be put on ice. Red Bull continues to struggle in the midfield, and although the team appeared to make some progress at Silverstone three weeks ago, anything more than a fifth place finish would be considered a success.

A little respite for McLaren?

Fernando Alonso may have scored his first point of the season in the British Grand Prix, but it was hardly something to celebrate. McLaren continues to toil with its Honda power unit, and is well behind where it had hoped to be at this time.

That said, the Hungarian Grand Prix could provide a little respite. The Hungaroring is easier on engines than most tracks, with chassis design being more important. Given that the MP4-30 car is not thought to be a reflection of the Honda power unit inside, the British team may fare better this weekend. Progress, no matter how small, is progress.

Last day of school

As Alice Cooper sang: “School’s out for summer!” This weekend’s race is the last before the summer shutdown and break in F1 as the teams enjoy a bit of time off to relax, unwind and collect themselves.

With this being round ten of 19, the Hungarian Grand Prix also marks the halfway point of the 2015 season. From here on, we only have two more European races before a relentless run to the end of the year in Abu Dhabi on November 29. It’ll be here before you know it…

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Hungaroring
Laps: 70
Corners: 14
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:19.071 (Ferrari, 2004)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2014 Winner: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
2014 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:22.715
2014 Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:25.724
DRS Zone: Main Straight (T14 to T1); T1 to T2

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 4am ET 7/24
Free Practice 2: NBC Sports Live Extra 8am ET 7/24 (same-day delay on NBCSN at 7pm)
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 5am ET 7/25
Qualifying: CNBC 8am ET 7/25
Race: CNBC 7:30am ET 7/26

For further information on our Hungarian Grand Prix broadcasts, click here.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.