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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Daniel Ricciardo’s return and different F1 storylines for the Hungarian Grand Prix

After per week off, Formulation 1 is again this week, because the grid heads to the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

However F1 just isn’t the one factor making a comeback.

Sure, Daniel Ricciardo is again, with AlphaTauri making the beautiful determination to slip the Crimson Bull reserve into Nyck de Vries’ seat hours after the conclusion of the British Grand Prix. However whereas his return is among the main storylines in F1 this week, it isn’t the one one.

Listed below are another main storylines to observe because the grid heads to Budapest.

Daniel Ricciardo: The return

Due to the dominance from Max Verstappen and Crimson Bull, it seemed like the remainder of the 2023 season was going to be a snooze-fest.

Then within the blink of a watch, all of it modified.

When AlphaTauri introduced that Ricciardo was coming again to the grid with “instant impact,” it injected some much-needed intrigue into the Hungarian Grand Prix. Regardless of his standing as a reserve driver getting into the season Ricciardo stays one of many extra widespread figures within the sport, for a wide range of causes. His earlier success on the monitor, in addition to his magnetic persona, are two large ones, however the success of Drive to Survive is anther. The primary season of the Netflix docuseries targeted largely on his shock determination to go away Crimson Bull for Renault, and he remained a spotlight in every of the following seasons.

Now after a while away, he’s again.

However how is he going to fare at AlphaTauri?

Ricciardo’s return goes to be a serious storyline not simply this week, however the remainder of the season. The announcement that he was taking Nyck de Vries’ spot at AlphaTauri opened the door to instant hypothesis about an eventual return to Crimson Bull, helped in no small half by current struggles from Sergio Pérez. In spite of everything, since he left Crimson Bull the crew has cycled by Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon, and now Pérez alongside Verstappen.

Might the door be open to a reunion at Crimson Bull?

Maybe. However it is usually as possible that the crew goes to take a more durable take a look at Yuki Tsnoda, who may need some competitors now at AlphaTauri with Ricciardo within the fold. Albon might even be an choice for them, together with a number of the youthful drivers of their program. The crew would possibly in the end determine that Pérez, whose contract runs out on the finish of 2024, stays the proper teammate for Verstappen.

Then there are the rumors of Liberty Media, F1’s possession group, eying a possible “dream crew” at Crimson Bull.

Ricciardo’s return comes at a really perfect time for F1, and albeit, for F1 writers like yours really.

Crimson Bull upgrades

Crimson Bull is operating away with issues this season. Verstappen leads the Drivers’ standings by 99 factors over Pérez and 118 factors over Fernando Alonso, and the crew leads the Constructors’ standings by 208 over Mercedes.

And whereas Staff Principal Christian Horner indicated that the crew has begun work on their 2024 challenger, the Bulls should not carried out with upgrades for this season. Crimson Bull is bringing an improve to Budapest this weekend, one that’s anticipated to shave as a lot as two-tenths off per lap:

And sure, Crimson Bull has the possibility to do one thing completely hilarious, given the point out of “seen modifications to design the sidepods.” Are you able to think about if the RB19 unveiled in Hungary has a zero-pod configuration, however Crimson Bull makes it work the place Mercedes couldn’t?

Monitoring the MCL60 in slow-speed corners

The largest winners at Silverstone through the British Grand Prix?


Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri each certified within the high three, with Piastri in third simply behind his teammate in second. Whereas the crew couldn’t get each drivers on the rostrum, Norris completed second in his dwelling race for his first podium of the yr, whereas Piastri got here throughout the road in fourth, for his finest end in F1.

That end would possibly lead some to imagine that McLaren has turned the nook with their current upgrades to the MCL60, however the Hungaroring may pose some undesirable challenges for the crew.

As Norris himself outlined following the British GP, the MCL60 nonetheless struggles in slow-speed corners:

“However we do have a poor automotive and I say poor, I’d say fairly horrible within the slow-speed corners, extraordinarily troublesome to drive. I really feel if we’re getting excited and I settle for that, however we’re going to go to a few tracks arising the place I’m certain individuals are going to be saying “what have you ever carried out now? Like, how has it received so dangerous unexpectedly.” So, we’ve improved loads of issues: tyre degradation, there’s at all times little belongings you try to do with tyre cooling and blah, blah, blah, however nothing large from that facet. It’s simply this monitor’s allowed us to take care of the tyres properly, preserve them in situation. Easy as that. So loads of it’s track-specific.”

That may very well be an issue this weekend. The Hungaroring is a technical, twisty circuit with a variety of slow-speed corners. Described prior to now as “Monaco with out the partitions,” this circuit has just a few completely different turns that might pose issues for the MCL60, such because the right-handed Flip 1, the slow-speed chicane at Turns 6 and seven, and the ending collection of Turns from 12 to 14, the place drivers navigate a fast collection of turns going proper, left, after which proper once more:

Will Pittenger

Until McLaren has found out these slow-speed corners, Hungary may look nothing like Silverstone for them.

Can Aston Martin rebound?

Aston Martin received out to a scorching begin this season, with Fernando Alonso starting the yr with three-straight podiums. That begin noticed Aston Martin push to second within the Constructors’, and had Alonso nipping at Pérez for second within the Drivers’ standings.

However Alonso’s final podium got here just a few weeks in the past, with a second-place end within the Canadian Grand Prix. That, coupled with some enchancment from different groups — resembling Mercedes and McLaren — has seen Aston Martin’s fortunes change considerably. Mercedes has pulled forward of them within the Constructors’ standings, and Ferrari has inched nearer to them over the previous month.

Making issues worse, they’re coming off their hardest results of the season. Alonso managed only a seventh-place end at Silverstone, whereas teammate Lance Stroll completed outdoors the factors.

Aston Martin’s efficiency in current races would possibly blur expectations considerably. As talked about above Hungary has been described as “Monaco with out the partitions,” and in Monte Carlo this yr Alonso threatened for pole, and completed second within the Grand Prix.

Hungary has additionally drawn comparisons to Barcelona, the place Alonso completed seventh.

Foolish season is right here

For a lot of, probably the most thrilling a part of the F1 calendar comes through the summer time “foolish season.”

If that describes you, then final week should have felt like the beginning of a brand new season.

The information of Ricciardo’s return to the grid kicked foolish season into full gear, and now the F1 media house is stuffed with hypothesis about what the 2024 driver lineup may appear to be, in addition to theories about what the grid may appear to be in 2025 and past.

Whereas solely a handful of seats are on monitor to turn out to be obtainable on the finish of this season — presently Zhou Guanyu, Tsunoda, Nico Hülkenberg, Lewis Hamilton and Logan Sargeant are the one drivers with expiring contracts — in F1, you’re solely pretty much as good as your final race.

Simply ask De Vries, who had a “multi-year” take care of AlphaTauri. Till he didn’t.

The Ricciardo return has kicked foolish season into excessive gear, with rumblings about Carlos Sainz Jr. heading to Sauber/Audi for 2025, Norris having some type of “pre-contract” with Ferrari, and Charles Leclerc off to Mercedes sooner or later sooner or later.

A few of this is likely to be true. None of it is likely to be.

However that’s the great thing about foolish season, which is actually upon us.

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