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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Sebastian Vettel set to show Ferrari’s true pace in race

Hamilton on pole in Hungary after wet qualifying

Sebastian Vettel sends the spray flying during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix
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Hungarian Grand Prix
Sky Sports F1, 2.10pm Sunday

Rain always adds to the excitement of Formula One action and Saturday’s qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix was a cracker.

Thunderstorms struck and washed away the pole hopes of favourite Sebastian Vettel, with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas – advised each-way at 20-1 in Racing Post Sport – claiming the front-row grid slots.

Hamilton is now favoured by bookmakers to convert pole into victory at a track where overtaking is difficult – he won in Germany last week from 13 places further back after all – but the mixed conditions in qualifying appear to have set us up for an exciting race.

Top tip
Sebastian Vettel 2-1

Vettel lost his way when the rain came down at the Hungaroring, as was the case when he crashed out of the lead on a slippery track in Hockenheim last week.

But everything we had seen before qualifying began suggested that the German’s Ferrari was the best car in Hungary this week.

Vettel was second to Daniel Ricciardo in first practice, when the scarlet cars are rarely seen at their best, and he topped the times in the afternoon session.

He was quickest again on Saturday morning and in each of the first two sections of qualifying only to slip off the pace as the rain poured down in the final period.

With conditions set to be dry for the race, the German looks worth backing to get back to the front.

Mercedes’ pre-event complaints that their car is not suited to the track have been shown to be rather overblown, but the Silver Arrows have looked hard to handle around the tight track with Hamilton and Bottas both spinning off in third practice.

Unless Bottas can play the perfect rear-gunner role and hold off Vettel long enough for Hamilton to skip clear, they can expect a tough time from the Ferrari team leader.

Red Bull look to have missed their big chance to challenge for a win to match Daniel Ricciardo’s slow-track success in Monaco.

The Australian was the big gun to miss out in qualifying and starts 12th, while Max Verstappen could manage only seventh.

Both should be seen in a better light in the race and can be expected to move forward, especially Verstappen, who has a newer version of the Renault engine in his car and could challenge for a place on the podium.

With some slow cars, including both Toro Rossos, in the group ahead of him, Ricciardo should be targeting a top-six finish but he is odds-on to deliver one. The Aussie is 3-1 joint-favourite with Vettel for the fastest lap.

Force India are racing this weekend despite the team going into admistration.

S Vettel

2pts 2-1 Sky Bet

Track facts

Venue Hungaroring, near Budapest

Number of laps 70

Lap length 4.381km

Lap record 1.19.071 M Schumacher (Ferrari) 2004  

Defining features The twisting, dusty circuit and usual sweltering heat 

Downforce Maximum

Full throttle 56 per cent of lap

Braking 14 per cent of lap

Safety car 13 per cent likelihood

Lowest winning grid position (last 20 years) 14th - J Button 2006

DRS zones Before turns one and two

Tyre allocation Medium (white), soft (yellow) and ultrasoft (purple)

Last five years (grid) S Vettel (1), L Hamilton (2), S Vettel (3), D Ricciardo (4), L Hamilton (1),

Last year Sebastian Vettel suffered handling issues for much of the race but with teammate Kimi Raikkonen following obediently the German headed a Ferrari 1-2.

2017 pole S Vettel, 1.16.276

2017 fastest lap F Alonso, 1.20.182 on lap 69

2017 classified finishers 17/20

Reason for retirements ­Mechanical (2), collision (1)

Weather The thunderstorms have cleared but the high temperatures remain, 33C.

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Everything we had seen before qualifying began suggested that the German’s Ferrari was the best car in Hungary this week
E.W. Terms
Sky bet