Hungarian Grand Prix: Wet Saturday can give Verstappen race boost
We're steering towards half-time in the F1 calendar and Lewis Hamilton heads to Hungary with a spring in his step after regaining his championship lead in spectacular fashion with victory at the rain-lashed German Grand Prix.
The world champion had to start the race 14th on the grid following a mechanical failure in qualifying but his hopes of a shock victory were transformed when the heavens opened with around 25 laps remaining.
Hamilton was heading for fourth place at this point but title rival Sebastian Vettel span out which allowed the Mercedes driver to take the chequered flag and move 17 points clear of the German with one race to go before the summer holidays.
The Hungaroring has been kind to Hamilton over the years with five victories since 2007 - the most of any F1 driver - and it was at this track five years ago that he earned his first win as a Mercedes driver.
But despite his success the feeling remains that the circuit does not suit a team that focuses on straight-line speed.
Vettel has won two of the last three races and he starts as 21/10 favourite, with Hamilton fourth in the Hungarian Grand Prix odds at 10/3 behind Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo who are 11/4 and 16/5 respectively.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff carried a warning to those tempted to put money on Hamilton on the back of his five victories by telling Sky's F1 programme that the Hungaroring "does not suit the DNA of our car", adding that "Ferrari has a very strong package at the moment and they will be the enemy and the competitor to beat."
With little time to relax on the straights, Ferrari may well bounce back from their disappointment in Germany.
The Prancing Horse were significantly quicker than Mercedes last weekend and would have been looking at a decent lead heading into the holidays had Vettel not produced another costly mistake.
Thunderstorms could blight qualifying on Saturday and that may be the key to success on Sunday bearing in mind that the top five from qualifying appeared in exactly the same order on race day 12 months ago.
With the weather expected to be hot and humid on race day, the advantage certainly seems to be with the driver that shines in potentially wet conditions in qualifying.
For us, that points towards Verstappen to win at 11/4. Few can forget the Dutchman's sensational performance in finishing third at rain-lashed Interlagos in 2016 and although conditions are expected to be dry on Sunday, the advantage will be with the Red Bull driver if he can start from the front of the grid.
Admittedly, he has not finished higher than fourth in his three races in Hungary but with doubts surrounding Vettel's ability to cut out mistakes and Wolff playing down Mercedes' chances this weekend, this could be the chance for Verstappen to grab his second win of the season.