Preview: Alonso Seeks Birthday Present

Renault's Fernando Alonso could find himself in seventh heaven on Sunday at his favourite Hungarian circuit

Preview: Alonso Seeks Birthday Present

Two years ago, as a 22-year-old, the Spaniard made Formula One history at the Hungaroring as the youngest Grand Prix winner.

He said then that he wanted to be the youngest champion as well and this time he returns to celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday knowing that his ambition is close to fruition.

Alonso has won six of the season's 12 races so far and, with a 36-point lead, a seventh triumph could put the Championship almost within his grasp.

Even if team boss Flavio Briatore has warned the team against 'doing a Milan', reminding them of the Italians who lost the Champions League final to Liverpool after being 3-0 ahead at half-time, Alonso will be hard to beat.

"Hungary has always been one of my favourite race tracks," he said after winning in Germany last weekend following yet another agonising retirement for McLaren title rival Kimi Raikkonen while leading.

"I think with this year's car it should be a good opportunity for us to be on the podium and hopefully beat McLaren, but at the moment they are the quickest."

Even if Raikkonen has more pace, it will count for far less at the second slowest circuit on the calendar and one where it is also notoriously difficult to overtake.

Qualifying Setback

The Finn also has a disadvantage in qualifying: "I will be going out first so will be affected by the dusty track, but the car is quick and I will push hard," he said.

"I always enjoy Hungary as there is a really good atmosphere because of all the Finns (who) come down to the race. It is like a home Grand Prix for me and I hope I can give the thousands of Finnish fans something to cheer about."

Hungary should suit the Renault but Alonso will have to watch out for Raikkonen's Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished second in Hockenheim.

Should Montoya make full amends for his German qualifying nightmare and plant his McLaren on pole, the Colombian could well race off into the distance.

That would not greatly trouble Alonso, who can think strategically and need only really worry about Raikkonen. But Renault do need every constructors' point, with McLaren 22 behind them.

Tyres will again be the key to success at a race that is often run in very hot conditions.

"Lots of traction and high temperatures don't go well together. We need to look after the rear tyres in particular," said Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella. "I am sure the car will be very quick there and we have good qualifying positions. I am feeling optimistic."

Less so is Ferrari's seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher, who last year took a record 12th win of the season in Hungary and cemented the team's sixth successive constructors' title.

"Following our performance during the last couple of weeks, it will probably not be an easy Grand Prix," said the German, who has already conceded that his title is lost after slipping 40 points adrift of Alonso.

"It's not realistic to expect any big progress in performance."

Sunday's race will also mark a watershed, with EU anti-tobacco legislation coming into force. For McLaren, Hungary will be a farewell to cigarette brand West as title sponsor.

shares
comments
Schumacher Predicts Tough Race
Previous article

Schumacher Predicts Tough Race

Next article

Liuzzi could Race in Turkey

Liuzzi could Race in Turkey
The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022