Hamilton, Rosberg look to avoid each other at Hungarian GP

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) No one has been able to stop Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg so far this season – except themselves.

The slow, twisting track of the Hungarian Grand Prix could prove challenging Sunday for the Mercedes teammates who have collided twice already this year.

After 10 races, Rosberg has five victories and leads the F1 championship with 168 points, but he has seen his lead over Hamilton, who has four wins, cut from 43 points to just one.

The season’s turning point came in May at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Rosberg had won the first four races but the two Mercedes collided a few turns after the start and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took the checkered flag.

Since that fiasco, three-time world champion Hamilton has won four of five races, while Rosberg, championship runner-up in 2014 and 2015, has won just once. Halfway through the longest-ever Formula One season of 21 races, Mercedes has won nine of 10.

“The battle is on with Lewis and I’m feeling great in myself and great in the car, so bring it on,” Rosberg said ahead of the 31st Hungarian GP. “I can’t wait for the next battle between us in Budapest. It’s a tough circuit that really tests you as a driver.”

The Hungaroring has not been kind to Mercedes lately. Last year, Hamilton finished sixth here and Rosberg eighth – the only 2015 event in which neither driver had a podium finish when completing the race – while Hamilton was third in 2014 and Rosberg fourth.

Nonetheless, Hamilton has won four times in Hungary during his 10-year career.

“It’s a track that for some reason has always suited my style,” Hamilton said. “The past couple of years I haven’t had the smoothest weekends in Budapest, but I know I’ve got the pace so I’m gunning to turn that around this time.”

Besides the crash in Spain, Hamilton and Rosberg also collided in the last lap of the Austrian Grand Prix, as Hamilton attempted to pass Rosberg for the lead. Hamilton won the race but the German driver lost his front wing and had to settle for fourth.

Rosberg’s troubles continued at the last race, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Hamilton won again and Rosberg fell from second to third after being penalized 10 seconds for receiving illegal assistance over the team radio.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is third in the standings but 62 points behind Rosberg. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has 100 points, two ahead of Raikkonen’s teammate Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen is sixth with 90 points and no one else has more than 54.

Mercedes isn’t relaxing.

The Hungaroring “plays to the strength of our rivals,” said Mercedes chief Toto Wolff. “We will need to be flawless to come out on top at this track.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.