Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton set for crucial Hungarian Grand Prix battle

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As Formula 1 reflects on another home win for a Mercedes driver, after Nico Rosberg triumphed in Germany, teams and drivers are already en-route to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The final race before the sport enters the summer break, Hungaroring is set to offer a very different challenge to that at Hockenheim last weekend, and it is one that might not suit the dominant Silver Arrows.

Monaco without the barriers

Indeed to understand where a car needs to be strong in Hungary you only have to look at how many have described this race over the years: Monaco without the barriers.

The tight and twisting chicanes of varying speeds have become more exciting in recent years as downforce on the cars has improved and that will be a very key area this weekend.

As a result Mercedes and their customers, who have enjoyed a distinct power and acceleration advantage all year, will not find it quite so easy whereas Red Bull, with possibly the most aerodynamic car on the grid, could be a lot stronger than they have at recent races.

Hamilton vs Rosberg

The need for better aerodynamics over power, however, will likely not change Mercedes' stranglehold at the front of the field.

And in the battle between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton this race could be set to see another switch in who has the advantage as Hamilton won in Budapest last year with one of his best performances in quite some time.

If he can repeat it again this year it would be very hard to see Rosberg maintaining his 14 point lead into the summer break and that could be crucial heading into the second half of the season.

Based on recent races, however, it is not Sunday that has put Hamilton on the back foot, it has been Saturday.

The Briton has not been on pole since the Chinese Grand Prix in April and in the last three races his best starting position has been sixth.

Therefore the key to Lewis's weekend will be a good qualifying and then he can hope to use his impressive skills in the race to beat Rosberg in a straight fight.

Williams resurgence under threat?

There is no doubt that the return to the front for Williams has been one of the great feel good stories of 2014 as a team that has achieved so much over time is back at the sharp end after several years in the doldrums.

The Grove team has also found itself a future star in Valtteri Bottas who is currently on a run of three podium finishes in a row.

But the demands of the Hungaroring may not suit the FW36 as rear downforce has been the main weakness of the Williams machine.

However, it is also known that the car has developed massively in recent races potentially becoming the second best behind the dominant Mercedes so while the circuit may not suit them, it will be interesting to see just how competitive they are, particularly against their nearest rivals Red Bull.

Key race for midfield

With much of the power deficit negated this race offers a chance to the likes of Lotus and Toro Rosso to score much needed points.

This is particularly true for Lotus who saw the potential for a good result at Hockenheim squandered by poor reliability once again.

There is some pressure on Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado too, as the driver with perhaps the poorest reputation among fans has lacked pace in recent races albeit also keeping out of creating trouble as well.

But despite his poor results, with no points yet scored this year, over the weekend the former Grand Prix winner was confirmed at Lotus for another year in 2015.

Most are seeing this as once again thanks to his large backing from his country's oil giant PDVSA, a key reason for him gaining the seat in the first place, so therefore while his run of creating crashes has stopped, he still needs to prove he is worthy of his place on the F1 grid.

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The non-Mercedes powered midfield teams will also benefit from a circuit that will not suit McLaren.

The team has enjoyed better form in recent races, albeit Kevin Magnussen once again was unable to convert a good qualifying into a good result as he collided with Felipe Massa at the first corner, but downforce remains the big weakness of the MP4-29 therefore I'm expecting a few more struggles for the Woking team this weekend.

Ferrari remain an unknown in terms of where they are in the pecking order, the Scuderia appear to have a knife-edge car in terms of set-up where the sweet spot is hard to find so depending on how practice goes this weekend could be either a potential top six finish or languishing towards the bottom of the top 10.

The final team is Force India and the traditionally high temperatures in Budapest do give the team hope for a strong weekend.

The minimal time difference between strategies at Hockenheim meant their better tyre conservation didn't reap the rewards they potentially deserved although another double finish helps in their battle with McLaren in the Constructors' championship. A repeat will be their aim once again in Hungary.

All about Mercedes

Final thoughts, as ever, have to be on another impending battle between the two Mercedes, but as I've already shared my view, I invite you to have your say on the battle so far and what you are expecting at the Hungaroring.

Can Hamilton bring the gap back down to seven points in another Mercedes 1-2 or will Rosberg deal another major blow in his quest for a first world title? Either way it promises to be another fascinating scrap.

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