It’s a question we’ve become accustomed to asking in the immediate aftermath of every Hungarian Grand Prix, such is the event’s tendency to provide unpredictable races and surprise winners.
In each of the last three seasons, the dark horse in the championship battle has triumphed at the tight and twisty dust bowl that is the Hungaroring, supposedly injecting renewed momentum and seriousness into a title challenge just beginning to fall flat.
Lewis Hamilton‘s first Mercedes victory in the 2013 race came on the back of his third pole position in succession and barely 24 hours after he admitted how—due to the hot conditions, the fragile Pirelli tyres and his car’s habit of charring its rubber—it “would be a miracle” if he won, per BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson.
If Hamilton managed to reach the top step of the podium when he felt needed divine intervention, just what could he achieve on days when the odds were stacked in his favour?
In 2014, meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo told Sky Sports News how the championship—against the backdrop of the double-points finale in AbuDhabi—was reappearing on his radar after the Red Bull driver’s second victory in five races.
This year, it is the turn of Sebastian Vettel to dare to dream after claiming his second win (and seventh podium) of the season in Hungary, where, after snatching the lead at the first corner, the four-time world champion controlled the race from start to finish.
If Hamilton was thought to be in contention for the title after his 2013 win, which moved him to within 48 points of the championship leader—and Ricciardo fancied his chances 12 months ago, despite a 71-point deficit to then-leader Nico Rosberg—surely Vettel, now just 42 points away from the summit of the standings, must be in with a shot.
With an absence of track action, and therefore little to discuss, over the three weeks until the Belgian Grand Prix, we will doubtlessly hear plenty of reasons why Vettel can indeed secure his fifth title in his first season with Ferrari.
If he maintains the consistency he has displayed for much of the opening 10 races. If Mercedes continue to make lacklustre starts, or develop those long-overdue reliability problems. If Hamilton and Rosberg have another Spa 2014 moment. If Vettel carries on winning whenever his rivals falter.
Yet, just as the title was destined to go to Seb in 2013, and the championship was always going to come down to a duel between the Mercedes drivers a year ago, it is almost certain that Rosberg and Hamilton will once again battle exclusively for the crown across the final nine races of 2015.
And having achieved their goal of two wins in 2015—a target team principal Maurizio Arrivabene set in pre-season, per ESPN F1’s Nate Saunders—there must be a temptation for Vettel and Ferrari, like Mercedes exactly two years ago, to shift their focus to next season in the hope of launching a genuine title assault in 2016.
Should Ferrari, after making a commendable recovery from their winless 2014 campaign, adopt a long-term approach and prioritise 2016, the final year of the current chassis regulations, it is possible that Williams could emerge as the biggest threat to Mercedes in the latter stages of this season.
It was, after all, in the second half of the campaign that Williams enjoyed their strongest run of results of 2014, with ValtteriBottas and Felipe Massa securing a combined total of six top-three finishes, including a double-podium finish in AbuDhabi, in the final eight races.
With this year’s FW37 sharing many of the strengths of the FW36—the all-conquering Mercedes power unit and its low-downforce configuration being its two most notable traits—Williams can expect to be competitive at the vast majority of the remaining venues, particularly at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.
The team have struggled painfully at high-downforce circuits this year, failing to score a point at Monaco and the Hungaroring (although it must be said Bottas was running sixth in Budapest before being hit by Max Verstappen, suffering a puncture, on Lap 49).
But Williams’ surprisingly strong performance at the Singapore street circuit in 2014, where Massa and Bottas ran fifth and seventh respectively until the final lap, should inspire confidence even ahead of what should be their most challenging remaining weekend.
Williams’ anticipation ahead of the second half of the season was encapsulated by Rob Smedley, the head of vehicle performance, who explained after the British GP how the team were hoping to overtake Ferrari in the constructors’ standings, telling Autosport‘s Lawrence Barretto:
We are constantly bringing new bits to every grand prix in all areas of the car.
The team is developing the car in small incremental steps and there is more to come.
We are trying more and more to put ourselves into a more favourable position as we want to try and get second position in the championship—that is our target now.
Now 85 points adrift of the Prancing Horse, it is highly doubtful that Williams will meet that target this season.
But like the Romain Grosjean-led Lotus outfit of 2013, Williams could be elevated to the position of the second-fastest team if those around them decide to concentrate on bigger and better things.
While you would still regard Vettel and Ferrari as more likely to add another victory to their tally in the second half of the season, such is the strength of their partnership, Williams will exert sustained pressure on Mercedes, and give Hamilton and Rosberg the biggest fright over the remaining nine races of 2015.
With the release of his debut album today, Professional Rapper, emcee/comedian Lil Dicky unleashes an animated music video of the same name with an assist from Snoop Dogg. Directed by Al Levine and Doug Olsen, the comedic scenario finds the upstart rapper attempting to land a job – making funny, yet poignant critiques about the genre – with the Doggfather doing his best Bill Lumbergh impression.
Professional Rapper is currently available on iTunes and features appearances from the likes of Fetty Wop, Rich Homie Quan, and T Pain.
Acting chief inspector of Hampshire police, Olga Venner, confirms an investigation is underway after four people died when a Saudi-registered jet crashed on Friday at Blackbushe Airport. Venner says that all four casualties were onboard the plane, which was attempting to land, and no one on the ground was injured. It is believed that members of the Bin Laden family are among the dead Continue reading…
The human brain contains more synapses than there are galaxies in the observable universe (to put a number on it, there are perhaps 100 trillion synapses versus 100 billion galaxies), and now scientists can see them all – individually. A new imaging tool promises to open the door to all sorts of new insights about the brain and how it works. The tool can generate images at a nanoscale resolution, which is small enough to see all cellular objects and many of their sub-cellular components (so for the biology-literate, that’s stuff like neurons and the synapses that permit them to fire, plus axons, dendrites, glia, mitochondria, blood vessel cells, and so on).
At first look, the Tetra-POD is a large, capable ATV trailer that can haul gear, tools and debris as an open tub or an enclosed box. A closer inspection reveals that it’s also a boat. With a few simple steps, the lid swings down to join the trailer body in creating a hull that can be motored out onto the open water.