Pack lead­ers fear stern chal­lenge in Bu­dapest

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Rob Lad­brook Pho­tos: LAT

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff says his team is brac­ing it­self for a ma­jor threat from Red Bull Rac­ing at this week­end’s Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix.

Due to the high-down­force and slower speed na­ture of the Hun­garor­ing cir­cuit, Red Bull is ex­pected to fare well, with the strength of its RB12 chas­sis mak­ing up for the lack of power from its Re­nault en­gine.

Red Bull has a strong his­tory at the track, with Daniel Ric­cia­rdo hav­ing won there in 2014 and both of its cars fin­ish­ing on the podium at the track last term. In con­trast, Mercedes has strug­gled there in re­cent years, with both Lewis Hamil­ton and Nico Ros­berg out­side the top five last year.

Wolff said he was pre­pared for a re­newed chal­lenge from the Mil­ton Keynes team.

“We face a very dif­fer­ent chal­lenge in Bu­dapest,” said Wolff. “This cir­cuit has not been kind to us over the past two years, and it plays to the strengths of our ri­vals.

“The Red Bull, for ex­am­ple, is a car that func­tions well where high drag isn’t pe­nalised as much as at other types of cir­cuit. So in wet con­di­tions and at low-speed cir­cuits, such as Hun­gary, they are a ma­jor threat. We will need to be flaw­less to come out on top at this track.”

Ric­cia­rdo comes into this year’s race off the back of a string of mis­for­tune this sea­son, which has robbed him of the chance to win at least two races.

In Spain, an al­ter­na­tive pit strat­egy meant his team-mate Max Ver­stap­pen won ahead of him, and a pit blun­der in Monaco cost him when lead­ing.

Red Bull boss Chris­tian Horner said the Aussie was owed some luck soon. “Daniel is deal­ing with it very well, it’s just the rub of the green,” he said. “He’s go­ing to have a cou­ple of Sun­days come up when every­thing will fall his way, it’s swings and round­abouts.

“Daniel is a class driver, and he has demon­strated this year that he is at the top of his game. We have two very strong driv­ers in the cars and they are push­ing each other hard, which is great to see.

“It’s a pos­i­tive thing for the team and there is no an­i­mos­ity – it’s just two guys go­ing flat-out try­ing to win. There’s a lot of con­fi­dence here and you can see a team that is grow­ing, and the car is im­prov­ing all the time.”

Wolff: Bulls are quick Mercedes is keep­ing an eye on rapid Red Bull duo

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