Hamilton preparing major psychological blow to Verstappen in Hungarian GP

28-07-2021 10:30
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Hamilton preparing major psychological blow to Verstappen in Hungarian GP

It’s been well over a week since the crash at the start of the British Grand Prix, but it remains the talk of the town in Formula 1. The build-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix will be dominated by the collision between the Championship rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone. And rightly so because a major psychological blow could be dished out in Hungary. 

It’s probably one of the most highly anticipated midseason races for a number of years. It’s the event we’ve all been waiting for. Whilst the World Championship isn’t even close to being determined, it’s a massive round that could end up swinging the battle in either direction ahead of the summer break. 

Red Bull dominate Mercedes

Even in pre-season, it looked like Red Bull Racing had a slight edge over their rivals, Mercedes. But Hamilton came out on top and won three of the first four events. But since the Monaco Grand Prix onwards, Red Bull have been completely dominant. 

Apart from Silverstone, Red Bull Racing won every race through either Verstappen or Sergio Perez in this period of the season. The Dutchman picked up four wins in five races, which should’ve been five out of five without a spontaneous tyre failure in Baku. Apart from the Azerbaijan and British Grand Prix, Verstappen has finished first or second in all races. 

Helped by the superior performances in Austria, Verstappen has completed 403 laps in the lead this season. This is almost twice as many as the other five drivers combined who have led a lap in 2021. Hamilton has led only 125 laps himself. 

Charles Leclerc has as many pole positions as Hamilton (two) compared to Verstappen’s five.  The Red Bull driver has more fastest laps. He even had time to slow down at the end of the Styrian Grand Prix for a burnout. The stats suggest Verstappen should be pulling away. And he would’ve been without the crash in Britain. But the fact of the matter is, anything less than a Verstappen win in Hungary could mean he loses his lead in the World Championship through the summer break. 

Wherever you sit in the debate about the crash and whether the Brit should’ve had a stronger penalty or not no longer matters. It happened. And Verstappen has to see it that way as well. Those in a Championship battle have to deal with reality. Should Hamilton win in Hungary for the ninth time, produce the fastest lap of the race and Verstappen finishes second, then both drivers will go into the summer break on equal points in the World Championship. Anything less for Verstappen then he can expect a deficit. 

Psychological blow 

This would be a massive blow to Verstappen. And with the nature of the summer break, Verstappen will have four weeks to stew over it. He’d have been expecting a fairly chunky lead yet to deal with a deficit would be unexpected. Almost a sense of ‘normal service has resumed’. 

And what does this mean for the Hungarian Grand Prix? In short, more of the same. With this psychological blow on the verge, Verstappen will not give an inch to Hamilton. He’ll keep his elbows out in any wheel-to-wheel battle. Giving Hamilton summer break momentum and oxygen in the lungs of Mercedes is not an option for Red Bull. 

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