Formula One Hits Europe

July 18, 2012 2:08 pm

Formula One returns to Europe this month for the German and Hungarian Grand Prix before taking a month-long break ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix in September.

Several drivers will be hoping the summer season brings them the success they need in order to stamp their authority on the World Championship.

Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber are the only drivers to have won twice this year but Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and others will be going all out to propel themselves back into the championship fight.

In 2010 Felipe Massa was forced to move over for Fernando Alonso…

Hockenheim hosts the 2012 German Grand Prix after the Nurburgring held last year’s event and Ferrari will be hoping for a repeat of their 2010 dominance of the race. This looks increasingly likely given recent speed shown by both Alonso and resurgent team-mate Felipe Massa.

Just a week later the Hungaroring will accommodate the twelve Formula One teams for round eleven of the season. Hungary held the distinction of being the first race behind the Iron Curtain when it debuted in 1986.

…hence the sheepish expressions on the podium afterwards

With nine races gone, Red Bull and Ferrari hold the advantage over the fading McLaren team as the struggles experienced by Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone last week showed. Lotus appear to have slipped backward from the giddy heights they climbed to in the early part of the season while Mercedes too have not appeared on the podium since Valencia.

So can Ferrari and Red Bull dominate the summer as they did the spring? Recent races have highlighted the impressive turnaround in fortune for Ferrari since their dark days of winter testing in February and March but the real speed still lies with World Champions Red Bull. With Webber taking glory at Silverstone and Monaco, Sebastian Vettel winning in Bahrain and only having victory snatched from him in Valencia by a mechanical failure, the Milton-Keynes based squad are leading both Championships heading into the second half of the season.

British duo Hamilton and Button, meanwhile, have plenty of head-scratching to do after their McLaren team has slumped to new lows in the last two events. With time to make up ground to Red Bull and Ferrari quickly running out, could it be too long before focus swings to the 2013 car and title challenge in a bid to turn around this season’s misfortune?

Jenson Button won the 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The 2010 German Grand Prix, the last at Hockenheim, was one marred by controversy after Felipe Massa was made to move over and hand the win to team-mate Alonso. The event marked a turning point for Felipe; having returned to the sport that year after a life-threatening crash at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix he looked set to claim his first victory in eighteen months. It was not to be and the psychological trauma the weekend inflicted on the young Brazilian has been evident ever since. His recent 4th place at Silverstone, however, was his best result in some time and maybe Hockenheim could prove to be a race of redemption for the likeable Sau Paulo boy as he bids for his first win since October 2008.

Hungary has been the scene of many dull races in its time – a tight twisty track layout does nothing to promote overtaking by the drivers, but the 2011 event will go down as one of the most exciting in its history. Jenson Button overpowered both Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to win his 200th Grand Prix in tricky damp conditions. The 2009 World Champion thus made himself the only driver ever to have won a wet Hungarian race following his maiden win there in 2006 for the otherwise-unsuccessful Honda team.

With the two races just a week apart, we may have a clearer idea come August of the identity of the 2012 Formula One World Champion.

All sessions are available live on SkyF1 HD and BBC Radio 5 Live, with  highlight packages available via BBC One on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Anthony French


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