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
Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Plus

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre? Plus

Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre?

Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? PAT SYMONDS considers the alternatives to carbonfibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting

Formula 1
Aug 6, 2022
How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir Plus

How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir

He’s fast, he’s smart, and he’s already shown he’s not going to let Max Verstappen intimidate him. George Russell won’t say it, but LUKE SMITH says he’s ready to take the lead at Mercedes when Lewis Hamilton moves on to a quieter life. And – whisper it – Mercedes and Lewis are starting to think so too

Formula 1
Aug 5, 2022
The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move Plus

The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move

Fernando Alonso’s bombshell switch to Aston Martin sent shockwaves through Formula 1, not least at Alpine that finds itself tangled in a contract standoff with Oscar Piastri. Not shy of a bold career move and with a CV punctuated by them, there were numerous hints that trouble was brewing

Formula 1
Aug 4, 2022
The elements Ferrari must resolve to first save face, then win championships Plus

The elements Ferrari must resolve to first save face, then win championships

OPINION: Ferrari's Formula 1 title hopes look all but over after another strategic blunder in last week's Hungarian Grand Prix denied Charles Leclerc the chance to fight for victory, while handing it to chief rival Max Verstappen. The Scuderia now faces intense scrutiny over what it must now do to finally become a genuine factor in championship battles

Formula 1
Aug 3, 2022
The clues about Hamilton’s F1 retirement plans revealed after Vettel’s decision Plus

The clues about Hamilton’s F1 retirement plans revealed after Vettel’s decision

OPINION: Sebastian Vettel is set to leave Formula 1 at the end of 2022 and will, rather shockingly, be replaced by Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin. But what about the final chapter of the other driver that defined the post-Michael Schumacher era? In Hungary, Lewis Hamilton spoke about his future in the context of Vettel’s upcoming departure, which offered clues on how long it will last

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2022