After three thrilling races, Formula 1 heads to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the final event before the championship’s traditional summer break.

Max Verstappen's excellent drive to secure his second victory in three races during an action-packed German Grand Prix has propelled him to within 22 points of second-placed Valtteri Bottas and just 63 behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutchman has arguably been one of, if not the, star performers so far in the 2019 season, having been able to keep up a remarkably consistent run of 11 top-five finishes, including his two wins and a further two podiums.

His form has coincided with an upturn in performances from Red Bull following an initial tricky start to the year as the team struggled to get the most out of its RB15 challenger amid a revision to the aerodynamic regulations over the winter.

But Red Bull’s recent progress has been impressive. The Milton Keynes squad picked up a home win in Austria, before boasting the second-fastest car at the power sensitive Silverstone circuit - a performance which highlighted Honda’s encouraging gains.

But as Verstappen explained heading into the Hockenheim weekend, there is more to Red Bull’s recent displays than the steps made by Honda alone. The team’s confidence should be sky high heading to the Hungaroring this weekend, a circuit it has gone well at in recent times.

Speaking about Red Bull’s chances, team principal Christian Horner said: “Hungary is a track that we enjoy going to, but Mercedes’ slow corner performance is pretty mighty and I think they’re going to be tough opponents next weekend.”

Mercedes ‘bruised’ but aiming to bounce back

Mercedes took a beating at its home race as unpredictable weather caused chaos and caught the team out. The German manufacturer, usually so flawless in how it carries out its race weekends, admitted it had somewhat been the architects of its own downfall on a miserable 200th grand prix with a multitude of decisions that “weren’t good enough”.

An unwell Hamilton was uncharacteristically error prone as he, by his own admission, turned in one of his worst Sunday drives in years. The Briton’s blushes were somewhat spared after a pair of post-race penalties promoted him into the points, which enabled him to extend his championship lead to 41 points over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who failed to capitalise as he crashed out.

But Mercedes is not a five-time consecutive championship-winning outfit for no reason, and the team still holds a comfortable buffer in both the drivers and constructors’ standings despite its worst result of the season. Expect the team to bounce back in Hungary, a circuit which previously was one of its weaker tracks, but with its W10 challenger, Mercedes has addressed the slow speed deficiencies of its predecessors.

“I think everybody is pretty bruised because it is one thing if a race goes against you by losing a car or crashing out or not doing our best but losing both cars not in the points, one out and one DNF, I think it is fair enough to be bruised now,” Wolff said in Germany

“These are the days which made us stronger in the past and these are the days where we analyse and scrutinise more than we did in the past.

“You never go home and say why the fuck didn’t we win you say why the fuck did we lose and this is certainly going to be the discussion that we are going to have tomorrow and we are united in the team.

“We are still leading the championship and in a good position which must not be forgotten.”

And what of Ferrari’s chances?

How Ferrari could do with a much-needed victory heading into F1’s summer break to end its barren spell so far in 2019, having been tipped as pre-season favourites after winter testing in Barcelona.

The Scuderia is yet to win a race in the opening 11 rounds of the campaign, but its performances in the last five events have provided team principal Mattia Binotto with renewed optimism.

Sebastian Vettel would have won in Montreal had he not been penalised, while Charles Leclerc came within a handful of laps of breaking the team's duck in Spielberg until a charging Verstappen overtook him late on, and the Monegasque driver crashed out when he found himself in a strong position in Germany.

12 months on from his disaster on home soil, Vettel enjoyed a performance that will act as some redemption as he turned in a stunning recovery drive from 20th on the grid after reliability gremlins struck in qualifying to finish second at Hockenheim.

“Look at the past five races,” Binotto said. “I think on average we have been good enough, which gives us at least an optimistic mood for the rest of the season.

“We are still looking for the first victory and hopefully it will come soon.”

Vettel will head to Hungary with fresh confidence as he looks to record a third win at the twisty Hungaroring circuit in the last five years, while Leclerc will be desperate to redeem himself for his error last time out.



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