Hungarian Grand Prix Betting: Mercedes to endure more pain?

Toto Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has been looking a little down of late
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Lewis Hamilton might just be getting a little twitchy in his Mercedes seat and James Gray thinks he knows one Max Verstappen-shaped reason why...

"Max Verstappen's form is exemplary and his confidence in the car is perhaps higher than it has ever been."

Before the season began, Red Bull F1 adviser Helmut Marko set the team the target of winning five races. It was only one more than 2018 and seemed a reasonable target - until Mercedes won eight on the bounce and Red Bull boss Christian Horner was probably ready to go and beg for his job at Marko's door.

Now, he has two to his name thanks to Max Verstappen's brilliant drive in Germany, tipped in this very column at 8/1 and will walk into the Hungarian paddock with a deserved spring in his step and every chance of making it a hat-trick.

In spite of all that, Red Bull's efforts to make a game of it in the title stakes look entirely fruitless. Lewis Hamilton, a snotty, damp, frustrated ninth-place finisher in Germany, has been as short as 1/50 to take the Drivers' Championship and hasn't exactly drifted far - he remains an odds-on favourite to storm to victory at 1/33. However, it cannot be often that a championship has been so wrapped up and yet there is still so much intrigue from week to week - because Mercedes are being reeled in.

Red Bull ready to leap-frog Ferrari

This should, in hindsight, have been a rip-snorter of a season. We know in F1 that pace tends to converge in the third year after regulation change and this is that year. However, we have been denied such a battle by Ferrari's incompetence as they handed Mercedes race after race in the early part of the season.

Thank goodness then that Red Bull's chassis and the vastly improved Honda engine are starting to make up for it; the Hungaroring, with its abundance of slow and medium-speed corners, should only favour them more.

It says a lot that Red Bull go into this weekend 2/1 to supply the winning driver while Ferrari are back at 5/1, and I still think that is a valuable price at which to back Horner's men to do the double.

Mercedes have panicked where Verstappen has not

I cannot remember the last time I saw Toto Wolff and the Mercedes team as a whole genuinely rattled, but they are. One of the problems with a constant, insatiable desire for success is you get very hungry very quickly if you stop winning. Both titles were already wrapped up by the time they failed to win two in a row towards the end of 2018 so this will feel unfamiliar and a whole lot more real.

Verstappen, by contrast, was the picture of serenity as he picked his way through the showers to win last week - barring a brief expletive when he spun on dry tyres in damp conditions. His form is exemplary and his confidence in the car is perhaps higher than it has ever been, as it should be.

He is odds-on at 1/2 to finish on the podium but having picked him at 8/1 on Friday morning last week, I'm happy to take 5/2 on Verstappen to win his third victory of the summer and mount a credible challenge to Valtteri Bottas in second in the drivers' standings.

Toro Rosso to keep up with their sisters?

Every Honda designer and mechanic who went through hell and high water at McLaren must have felt tremendously proud to see two different Honda-powered cars on the podium as Daniil Kvyat joined Verstappen on the podium.

Alexander Albon was not far behind in sixth and actually, Kvyat only finished ahead of him by virtue of a risk taken by the team on their slower driver which ended up paying off in a big way.

As such, the London-born Thai racer might represent an interesting bet this weekend because his form is concealed by his weaker result. Albon is 2/1 to sneak into the top six once again.

James Gray,

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