BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The Formula One season hots up in more ways than one this weekend when McLaren’s jubilant Lewis Hamilton looks to add further spice to the championship at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where temperatures could also soar.
The Briton produced a stunning drive to win the German Grand Prix Sunday as world champion and championship leader Sebastian Vettel suffered a rare blip to come home fourth at a cold and damp Nuerburgring.
The runaway German is still 77 points in front of nearest rival and Red Bull team mate Mark Webber, who won in Hungary last year, but their dominance during the first half of the season is quickly ebbing away.
Hamilton has triumphed twice at the twisty Hungaroring although the likely improvement in the weather from the Nuerburgring does not totally enthuse the 2008 world champion, who loves changeable conditions.
“Germany is a massive bonus or positive for us, but there’s still a long, long way to go and it’s about trying to keep doing this, trying to get some consistency,” said Hamilton, who has moved up to third in the standings.
“I say something now and then the next race could be a disaster because it’s a very, very hot track. I would prefer to keep my mouth closed and let the pace of our car do the talking.”
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was second in Germany and feels the Hungary heat could help his resurgent team, although the quick turnaround from the Nuerburgring means the cars should be identical with no time for any upgrades to be installed.
McLaren were stunned by Hamilton’s pace in the last race having struggled previously and they will hope to gain the same advantage this weekend even if the Briton’s immaculate overtaking had as much to do with the Germany success as the new found power of the car.
The British team also have another reason to celebrate on Sunday when Jenson Button will become only the 11th man to race in his 200th grand prix, beating Alain Prost who finished on 199.
Button has suffered two successive retirements to drop out of the title picture but the 2009 champion will be doing everything to help his team and Hamilton.
Harmony seems less apparent at Red Bull where Webber was ordered not to overtake Vettel during Alonso’s win in Britain two outings ago and then said at the Nuerburgring that he hoped the chasing pack could catch the German.
Vettel responded by asking why Webber’s car was suddenly faster than his.
It all sets up an intriguing contest before F1 heads off for a summer break.
“Hungary is always a good grand prix, with a good atmosphere - I think it’s one that most of the drivers enjoy,” Webber said.
“The track is pretty short and very technical, so it’s a busy lap for us. There are limited places for overtaking, so we’ll see how the DRS helps with that this year. The Hungaroring should suit our car well, we were very strong there last year.”
Yet again Vettel failed to agree with his team mate and seems less excited about heading to Budapest as his early season invincibility rapidly disappears even if the chances of him losing his title still look very remote.
“The Hungarian GP is one of the hardest for the drivers. It can get very hot in the cockpit due to the high-temperatures, which means we lose a lot of body fluid during the race,” the champion said.
“There are a lot of bumps on the track, which means you can get shaken up a bit and, because the track has hardly any straights, you have almost no chance to rest. That’s what makes the Hungarian Grand Prix so exhausting.”
As well as Button’s milestone, Nico Rosberg races in his 100th grand prix as stuttering Mercedes finally seek some good news at a track where Michael Schumacher won four times.
Among other teams, Jarno Trulli is expected to come back into the Team Lotus after India’s Karun Chandhok had the seat in Germany while Bruno Senna will drive the Renault during first practice Friday with Nick Heidfeld standing down momentarily.
Editing by Justin Palmer