MERCEDES: RED BULL IS HUNGARY
Pack leaders fear stern challenge in Budapest
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.”