Hi folks...

Hungary is the next race on the Formula 1 calendar and the event really is going to have a lot to live up to following that at the Nurburgring two weeks ago.

We had a great race in Germany - and the European Grand Prix, as it was officially known, was a fantastic event overall, most of which was induced by the changeable conditions.

That caught a lot of people out and made it very exciting for all of us watching. Even in the build-up, there were messages on the monitors that there could be rain at any minute. People had to try and make the right decision with the tyres and we saw a Spyker leading the grand prix, which was different to say the least!

Lots of the 'big names' made mistakes and went off. Then we had people having to try and fight their way back through. It gave us all the ingredients for one of the best races this season.

Last year, we had a similar situation in Hungary, where the weather played a big role and Jenson Button came through to win. Usually, though, the event at the Hungaroring is very hot and the track is often dusty.

Once again, it has been very hot in that part of Europe and I would anticipate that we will get more of the same this weekend. But, if we do have variable conditions, maybe we will get another winner that replicates what Jenson did in 2006.

Generally speaking though, the Hungaroring is a good circuit - high downforce and quite challenging.

It is a bit on the small side and, as there are lots of corners, there is no rest for the drivers - the work rate is high. In many ways, it is similar to Monte Carlo as there is nowhere on the track where you can really have a breather and take stock of what is going on. You are constantly either turning the wheel or changing gear or pressing the brake pedal. It is non-stop, corner after corner.

It is problematic too if you get to the edge of the circuit and go off the racing line, as it is quite dusty there and that can sometimes catch out quite a few people.

Monaco, of course, favoured the McLarens earlier this year, and as the 'Ring is similar in nature, this event could be a good one for Ron Dennis' men.

I'd expect it to be a little bit more difficult for Ferrari, with its longer wheelbase car and, although the two teams are quite evenly matched, this might be an ideal track for McLaren to fight back.

Certainly, it is going to be an important race for current championship leader Lewis Hamilton, after his McLaren team-mate, Fernando Alonso, cut the gap to just two points in Germany.

We are past the halfway stage now, and it is this time of the season that really takes its toll on the drivers. This is going to be a new experience for Lewis. He has had a wonderful season so far, and is still P1 in the drivers' race, but his advantage has been cut heavily.

Now the pressure is on for him to maintain the lead. He needs to make sure he has a healthy gap when he comes away from Hungary, and that means Alonso needs to be a few places behind.

Fernando definitely looks on his game at the moment though, and it is not going to be easy for Lewis to do that.

As for Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen seems to be really at home with the car. The Scuderia seem to have adjusted it now so that it suits him, and that is what he has been looking for since he got there. It was unfortunate that he suffered from reliability problems in Germany, because I think he would have been in a very strong position.

Of the rest, BMW Sauber was a bit disappointing in Germany and, in the end, had to settle for sixth and seventh. I would imagine they will be stronger this weekend and this could be one of the circuits that plays into their hands.

However, although we still see great pace and progress from them, BMW is still just lacking what it needs to get into contention with McLaren and Ferrari. That is going to be their hardest step now towards the end of this season.

It will also be interesting to see how Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica get on as there is a massive battle going on between those two drivers within the team. That has been great to watch, but could be disruptive to the team.

Red Bull Racing capitalised at the Nurburgring, with Mark Webber third and David Coulthard fifth, and that should have given the team a boost. It is great for morale there and it is also great for Webber to get another podium.

Both Webber and DC are experienced drivers, and took on board what was going on with the conditions. They have been there many times before and they made sure they capitalised.

Red Bull will now go into the next race healthier, with a lot more points racked up and a lot more confidence in the camp. Whether that will pay out into performance on the circuit, we will have to wait and see.

The other point scorers were Williams' Alex Wurz, who was fourth, and Heikki Kovalainen, who took eighth for Renault.

The regie's strategy at the end was definitely confusing and I don't really understand why they decided to take such a big gamble, especially when it looked like Heikki would get very good points. I was not convinced by the merits of that.

Kovalainen was still quite encouraging though, and so too were Williams. Alex had a good strong drive and again experience proved useful - as it did for DC and Webber - as he used his 'data base' to get the best result that was available.

Of the rest, Markus Winkelhock deserves a mention as he was definitely thrown in at the deep end. He had no prior testing as such and was just put in the car and had to try and get on top of it. That is not easy and, so, in that sense, his debut was very solid.

He made no big mistakes and didn't damage the car. He also led his first grand prix in his home country, thanks to the conditions - what more can you ask for? It must have been a dream come true for him - it certainly wasn't a disgrace.

Spyker have since confirmed that Sakon Yamamoto will be the permanent replacement for Christijan Albers during the remainder of the year and there is not much to say on that.

Obviously, he hasn't got a great set of F1 credentials behind him at the moment, having just a part-season with Super Aguri in 2006, but he has been working in GP2 and now we will have to see how he gets on in a Spyker.

His biggest opposition will be his team-mate, Adrian Sutil. Sutil is doing a sterling job at the moment and Yamamoto will be compared to that, so he is not going to have it easy.

So, to my prediction. As you will have guessed, I am going for McLaren and, if I was to place a bet, my money would be on Alonso for the pole and win, with Hamilton runner-up and then Raikkonen finishing off the podium. After that, I'd plump for Massa, Kubica and Kovalainen.

Enjoy the grand prix...

MB

STOP PRESS - STOP PRESS.

The spy row verdict was given by the FIA World Motor Sport Council last week and, while it is a difficult one to comment on, as there is just so much information and a lot of it is not public knowledge, I was pleased to see the drivers' championship wasn't interfered with.

I don't think it has been great for the sport, and it is sad this has tarnished what has been a great season. I am not sure we have seen the end of it, as Ferrari definitely don't seem too pleased with what was decided and have said they have not ruled out taking further action, but hopefully we can get back to focusing more on what happens on the race track, as that is what this sport is all about.

Roll on Sunday...

 

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