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Head says Hamilton - but watch the Finns!

2015-07-22 13:25

RICCIARDO SHINES IN HUNGARY: Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo raced to victory in a crash-filled 2014 Hungarian GP. Image: AP / Darko Vojinovic

ALAN BALDWIN

LONDON, England - The head says Lewis Hamilton but those willing to take a more adventurous punt might fancy the chances of Valtteri Bottas or Kimi Raikkonen as Formula 1 regroups in Hungary with a heavy heart this weekend.

Hamilton, winner at the Hungaroring four times in eight years and twice in the past three, is the clear favourite as the double champion seeks to stretch his 17-point overall lead going into the August break.

‘GOODBYE WAS HARD’

Briton Hamilton and his rivals will also be racing with Jules Bianchi in their thoughts after attending the French driver's funeral in Nice on Tuesday - a promising talent who died on Friday nine months after a crash in the 2014 Japanese GP left him in a coma

Hamilton said: "Saying goodbye to Jules was incredibly hard for everyone. I wished I had known him better.

"Hungary is a beautiful place, one of my favourites. I will be carrying Jules with me in my prayers and thoughts, not only this race but for the rest of my driving days.

“I know he'd want us to race hard, as he did. So I will."

The form book points to another battle between Hamilton and his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, each chasing a seventh 1-2 from 10 races, but history offers some hope of a different outcome.

STATISTICAL CURIOSITY

The race, now in its 30th edition, threw up a surprise in 2014 when Australian Daniel Ricciardo won for Red Bull. It has had other surprises…

It may be just a statistical curiosity but the fact remains that only English, Australian or Finnish drivers have won in Hungary in the past decade.

Raikkonen, who could be replaced by Bottas at Ferrari in 2016 if speculation is correct, won for McLaren in 2005 while compatriot Heikki Kovalainen triumphed in 2008.

Williams' Bottas said: "I always have a lot of support -- it's almost a Finnish GP. We should be looking for a strong weekend and to build on the good momentum we have built."

He has, however, yet to win in F1; he was third in Canada.

RENAULT STILL LOOKING FOR POWER

Raikkonen was second in Bahrain, his first top-three finish since he won for Lotus in 2013, and apart from 2014, the 2007 champion has been on the podium in Hungary every year he has raced there since 2006.

Ricciardo is the only Australian on the grid and Red Bull has lost hope of winning until Renault provides a more competitive engine. The team might have to grin and bear it…

Jenson Button took his first F1 win in Hungary for Honda in 2006 - and from 14th on the grid. That feat remains the lowest winning start for the race but even starting that low will be a challenge this time with Honda-powered McLaren.

Bianchi's death, the first since 1994 of a driver resulting from a race incident, has put everything into perspective. McLaren boss Eric Boullier said: "Last weekend's sad news... means the GP circus heads to Budapest with heavy hearts.

"We'll all remember his life in our own personal way but F1 will come together on Sunday to silently and respectfully mark his passing."


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