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
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.