BUDAPEST - Less than a week after his back-to-front charge through the field at the German Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton will be hoping for a more straightforward task in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Despite finishing third after starting from 20th place on the grid, the 29-year-old Briton was still disappointed to allow his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg complete a perfect week by winning on home soil and extending his lead to 14 points in the title race. Hamilton has four pole positions and four victories so far at the slow and challenging Hungaroring, but a high-speed brakes failure in qualifying undid his best efforts at Hockenheim. Bruises and soreness notwithstanding, he will hope to return to his best at one of his favourite venues for what promises to be an intriguing contest in very hot conditions.
For the Mercedes team, Hamilton will not be the only one nursing injuries on arrival. Both team chief Toto Wolff and technical boss Paddy Lowe were involved in a cycle crash during a team outing in Austria, on Tuesday, with Wolff suffering significant injuries. Commercial boss Wolff was admitted to hospital overnight for treatment to a broken wrist, elbow, shoulder and collarbone, but insisted he will be in Hungary this weekend for the 11th race of the 19-race season. Mercedes should dominate again, Rosberg and Hamilton having won nine of this year's races to sit first and second in the drivers' championship. In the constructors' title race, they have 366 points already -- nearly twice as many as their nearest rivals. As Mercedes bid to stay ahead, the revitalised Williams team will arrive in Hungary after the 800km trip from Hockenheim with a major update package in the hope that they can hunt down Red Bull for second place in the teams' title race. Three consecutive podium positions enabled them to overhaul Ferrari last weekend and they are now seeking to cut Red Bull's 67-points advantage over them and add consistency to the clear speed they have demonstrated.
Williams' performance boss Rob Smedley said the team's upgrade was designed to help them at the high-downforce Hungaroring circuit. "We identified what sort of improvement we would need to make to keep it competitive in Budapest," he said. "Now we have met all the development targets that we are going to get on the car. "It will improve the car and will be very specific for Budapest, so I believe that we will go there and be able to maintain a decent pace." While Williams and particularly their rising Finnish star Valtteri Bottas are in buoyant mood, Ferrari head towards Hungary and the now-traditional August break in reflective, if not sombre, mood as they continue to struggle to find a way to end their poor form this year.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso indicated he was less than impressed by a demonstration of the team's future plans when he went to the Maranello base before the German race. "Mercedes showed us this year that some teams in this new era of Formula One can be dominant," said the Spaniard. "We didn't make a good enough job with these new rules and there is a lot of room to improve -- it's not like other years where everything was more or less at the limit. "The step between 2014 and 2015 cars will be a lot bigger than what we saw in the past, so that's the hope we have and I think everyone will have the same, because everyone has very good prospects for the future in July."