Hungarian Grand Prix Betting: How Catch 22 has hit Vettel's title chances

Sebastian Vettel's title chances have been hit by technical rulings
Sebastian Vettel's title chances have been hit by technical rulings
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Sebastian Vettel's drive at Silverstone ended in frustration with tyre troubles, but Ralph Ellis explains the Championship leader has other more difficult technical problems to deal with.

"Not only is Hamilton [1.59] just a point behind Vettel in the battle for this year’s World Title, but Mercedes’ “other driver” Valtteri Bottas [14.5] has moved to within 22 points."

We all know about Catch 22. It began as a Joseph Heller novel in the 1960s, and moved into the language to mean any set of contradictory rules that left a person trapped.

When it comes to Technical Directive 22, however, unless you're a dedicated petrol head I suspect you've not heard of it. But it is quietly turning out to be one of the significant turning points of the Formula One season.

It was issued on the Tuesday before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Just a gentle reminder from the FIA to the team managements that they were not allowed any sort of technology that burned anything but petrol in their car engines.

We were too busy focusing on Lewis Hamilton's superb drive in Canada a couple of weeks earlier to take too much notice. But for Ferrari, who had watched their Mercedes rivals score a thumping 1-2 in Montreal while Sebastian Vettel finished fourth, it was a major boot in the wotsits.

They had been working all winter on giving their cars more power by burning waste oil, and it meant those plans had to be abandoned. When on the eve of the Austrian Grand Prix another directive forced them to change the design of the front floor of their cars, it made life doubly tough.

It all sounds a bit dull, I know. You'd read the Formula One rule book if you couldn't sleep and it would get you off far quicker than counting sheep.

But when you're looking at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, for which championship leader Vettel's odds have slid out to [4.3], it's something you need to know about.

In three races since Ferrari were confronted with Catch 22 - sorry Directive 22 - the two Prancing Horse drivers have collected the grand total of 59 Championship points between them. Mercedes, meanwhile, have racked up 108.

As the sport prepares for its summer break you sense it is a pivotal moment for Vettel who started the season so well but is suddenly watching things slip away. Not only is Hamilton [1.59] just a point behind him in the battle for this year's World Title, but Mercedes' "other driver" Valtteri Bottas [14.5] has moved to within 22 points.

If Vettel is going to stop the rot, Hungary is his biggest chance to do it. The relatively short circuit at the Hungaroring, just 2.7 miles, with corners that demand cutting speeds, ought to be far better suited to his car.

The weather forecast that promises 32 degrees and unbroken sunshine - with trackside temperatures capable of rising as high as 50 - should also be in Ferrari's favour. Their car is much better suited to those conditions.

But all of that depends on what happens in qualifying where Hamilton's raw pace makes such a difference. The other key characteristic of the Budapest circuit is that overtaking is especially tough and if Hamilton [1.81] wins qualifying, as he has in three of the last four races, it's hard to see where Vettel can recover.

Technical Directive 22 will have done its damage again. Whatever Vettel has got lined up for his holiday reading when this race is over and F1 takes its summer break, you suspect it won't be a Joseph Heller novel.

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