Hamilton has enjoyed dominance at the Hungaroring throughout his career and could be in line for a ninth victory on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton has rarely had it so tough. Midway through the 2021 F1 season, the seven-time world champion finds himself in a frustratingly unfamiliar position.
For the first time since 2016 he is in a very real battle for the drivers’ championship. He is eight points behind Max Verstappen – the new villain of Hamilton’s dramatic career and the first challenger to the veteran’s supremacy in his Mercedes since Nico Rosberg five years ago.
The pair have exchanged the lead at the top of the standings, and clashed quite literally on the track. Red Bull have successfully earned a review of the collision that saw Verstappen crash out of the British Grand Prix last time out – to which Hamilton was handed nothing more than a 10-second time penalty on his way to victory at Silverstone.
“We’ll just keep on attacking,” said Hamilton after criticism of his race strategy that saw Verstappen hit the Silverstone tyre wall with extreme force.
“There needs to be respect on track, but if not, this will happen more often I guess. And I tried my hardest just to stay as clean as possible.”
Verstappen, for his part, is trying to stay out of the soap opera unfolding between the pair. Speaking in the week, the Dutchman said: “I am not interested in getting involved in any of that.
“I know what happened at Silverstone as I was in the car and obviously I feel a certain way about how my race ended, but now I’m just focusing on making sure we are the best we can be on track so we can stay ahead in the championship.
“The team can take care of the official side of things and anything that needs looking into after the crash but my job is the same as always: to be the best I can and try to win on Sunday.”
Thankfully for Hamilton – and perhaps worryingly for Verstappen – he not only heads into the Hungarian Grand Prix having ended Red Bull’s five-race winning streak, but he also has history on his side at the Hungaroring.
Hamilton has won the Hungarian Grand Prix eight times – including each of the past three years. The multiple world champion is at home on the wide circuit where his Mercedes engine can eat up track over his rivals.
Were Hamilton to win on Sunday he would break a new record for the most race wins by any driver at a particular circuit. His eight in Hungary is currently equalled with his eight at Silverstone and Michael Schumacher’s eight achieved at the French Grand Prix between 1994 and 2006.