Formula One drivers get ready for new tyres at Hungaroring

Budapest, Hungary, Reuters | Updated : 26 July 2013, 08:42 PM

Sebastian Vettel comes to Budapest looking for his first win at the Hungary Grand Prix.

If the German can triumph for the first time in seven visits on what promises to be a sweltering Sunday race then he will go into Formula One's summer break well on the way to a fourth successive title.

This year has already seen the 26-year-old break new ground. He has won his home race for the first time, savoured a first victory in North America and shown his ruthless streak in defying team orders.

Hungary is one of only two races remaining on the current calendar that Vettel has not won - the other being Austin, Texas - and a victory in the heat of the Hungaroring would mean he has won half of the season's races so far.

The championship leader has hit his stride already, scoring 157 points from nine races compared to 100 last year, and won four races after taking just one by this stage in 2012. He is 34 points clear of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

The introduction of new Pirelli tyres this weekend, after a spate of blowouts at last month's British Grand Prix led to emergency changes in Germany, could help Vettel further.

Vettel was fastest in a test of the new tyres, which marry the 2012 structure with 2013 compounds to produce less degradation, at Silverstone last week although his main race rivals were absent.

Mercedes, who were not allowed to test at Silverstone as punishment for a 'secret' test with Pirelli in June, will have to wait and see but their strength in qualifying up to now should stand them in good stead.

Lewis Hamilton is chasing his third pole in a row with Mercedes and has won three times in Hungary but that was with McLaren, who have won six times in the last eight years but are currently a long way from where they want to be.

On Thursday (July 25) as drivers prepared for Friday's (July 26) practice day, Hamilton was asked how the expected heat of 40 degrees Celsius would affect his team.

"It's going to be tough this weekend definitely - the conditions will not help," he said. "Plus, we haven't driven the tyres as everyone else has. We've got a bit of catching up to do, but that's what we do best and we just have to work as hard as we can this weekend to try to understand the tyres and put ourselves in the best position possible. We have a lot of work to do to continue to improve our race pace, but I anticipate it will be a difficult weekend."

Alonso - who took his first F1 win in Hungary with Renault in 2003 - and Lotus's third placed Kimi Raikkonen will be hoping their cars' gentle treatment of the tyres can help them put pressure on Vettel.

Kimi Raikkonen, who has been batting away suggestions he will leave Lotus for Red Bull in 2014, said that he thought the re-profiled Pirellis, with elements of last year's and this year's tyres, would probably suit the team.

"I think we've always been a bit more happy when it's more warm," Raikkonen told reporters. "Now it's a bit difficult to say with the new - or different - tyres than we raced at the beginning of the year but last year helped us and the tyres should be a mix of this year and last year so let's hope that it works well for us."

First Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 08:42 PM
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