Another weekend, another race. After back-to-back events in Austria, the Formula One paddock slides on over to the Hungaroring for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix 2020 (Race: Sunday, 9:10am ET).
Any hopes that the unusual circumstances of the delayed 2020 season might shake up the order have been swiftly dispelled by consecutive victories for the dominant Mercedes team. Valtteri Bottas won the opening race; reigning champion Lewis Hamilton won the second.
Hamilton did the hard work in qualifying. He brushed aside the wet conditions to take pole position with a time that was a full 1.2 seconds quicker than that of any other driver. On race day, he zoomed clear at the start and had a pretty comfortable time of it thereafter as he cruised to victory ahead of his teammate Bottas.
There is still a feeling that Mercedes are vulnerable to rapid tire wear in very hot conditions, but they otherwise appear to have crafted a car that is again the clear class of the field. Red Bull are the only team somewhat in touching distance, but even then only in the hands of Max Verstappen. Without more consistent support from his teammate Alexander Albon, it is difficult to see him being able to offer a regular challenge to Mercedes’ supremacy.
It was Verstappen who followed the two Mercedes drivers home in last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix. In truth, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he, Hamilton and Bottas again filled the podium places on Sunday. That is reflected in the odds-on status with the online US sports betting sites of Hamilton to win the race and of Bottas and Verstappen to finish in the top three.
Saturday’s qualifying session might offer better value. Hamilton has proven himself to be a master of the Hungaroring, winning there in each of the last two years, in three of the last four, and seven times overall. That is three times more than any other driver in the event’s history, but he hasn’t been quite as dominant in qualifying.
In fact, Hamilton has been outqualified by his teammate of the time in three of the last five Hungarian Grand Prix. Bottas qualified ahead of him last year and again in 2017. A repeat performance on Saturday will likely yield pole position for the Finnish driver at a circuit that in normal circumstances is usually well-attended by his countrymen.
Albon took fourth for Red Bull at the Styrian Grand Prix, ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris, the two Racing Points of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz, and Daniil Kyvat’s AlphaTauri. Ferrari had a weekend to forget, qualifying 10th and 11th, and seeing their race come to a premature end when Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel clashed on the first lap, eliminating both of them.
McLaren have made an excellent start to the season, taking 39 points from the first two races, including the point for fastest lap on both occasions. On current form, they and Racing Point seem likely to spend the year jousting it out for the title of third-fastest team, although McLaren have the advantage of two quick drivers, while Perez seems clearly to have the better of Stroll at Racing Point.
Norris has been very impressive so far, and after a maiden podium in the first race of the season and a fifth place finish last weekend, he will fancy his chances of securing a third consecutive top-six finish on Sunday. Even when they have generally been slow, McLaren have gone well in Hungary in recent years, and with a better all-round package, Norris can be expected to deliver a strong result on Sunday.
AlphaTauri, the renamed Toro Rosso team, scored points in both races in Austria and have a solid chance of doing so again in Hungary, particularly in the hands of Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman won the feature race at the Hungaroring en route to claiming the GP2 title in 2016 and has achieved a pair of top-six finishes there since moving up to Formula One in 2018.
Gasly qualified an impressive eighth at last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix but was unable to convert that into a top 10 finish, primarily because an early gamble to move onto the unfavored hard compound tyre didn’t work out for him. There seems to be enough pace in the AlphaTauri package to compete for points, and Gasly is the man to do it on Sunday.
So the Hungarian Grand Prix predictions and betting picks for this F1 preview are:
- Bet on Valtteri Bottas to be the fastest qualifier (ie: to win pole position) @ best odds of +200 (2/1) with Bovada, 5Dimes or Intertops.
- Expect Lando Norris to finish in the top six @ -120 with Bovada, Intertops or 5Dimes.
- Back Pierre Gasly to finish in the points (ie: a top 10 finish) @ best odds of +130 with 5Dimes.