Best of the rest (2008 Hungary preview)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber leads Fernando Alonso in the Bahrain Grand Prix
Mark Webber leads Fernando Alonso in the Bahrain Grand Prix

We?re past the halfway point in the 2008 season so you know the drill by now: Ferrari and McLaren are up front and at the moment it looks like McLaren have the edge. BMW will be closest to them with Robert Kubica leading the charge.

But who will be best of the rest in Hungary? Ah, that?s the really interesting bit. Step forwards Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli. But in what order?

There is a fascinating tussle for fourth place in the constructors? championship between Red Bull, Renault and Toyota. (Williams and Toro Rosso are potentially in the mix as well but we?ll get to them in a moment).

Each of the three teams has one driver leading their charge: Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli respectively. So which will do best at the Hungaroring?

Ordinarily we?d look at their form at the Monaco Grand Prix for an indication ?ǣ Monte-Carlo and the Hungaroring both being tight, slow, high-downforce circuits. But the wet race in Monaco this year makes that kind of comparison less useful.

Alonso has shown an excellent knack for qualifying his Renault higher than it should be this year. But he has struggled with the R28?s high rear tyre wear over a race distance – as Pat Symonds mentioned when I spoke to him last week.

Alonso qualifying well then holding up the cars behind him could at least make for an entertaining race. That?s the sort of thing we?d been used to seeing from Jarno Trulli but this year the ??Trulli train? increasingly seems to be a thing of the past. However Toyota do still seem to have their occasional off days when they struggle to get the TF108 dialled into the demands of a particular circuit.

Webber has been perhaps the most consistently competitive of the three at each round. But like the others he increasingly has to pay attention to the rise of his future team mate Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel who has thrived since the introduction of the new STR3 at Monaco. If he can make it into Q3 once again and score more points Toro Rosso may close in on that battle for fourth place.

Vettel?s rise has partly come at the expense of Nico Rosberg. The Williams-Toyota FW30 does not seem to have kept up with the pace of development and Rosberg only just scraped into Q2 last time out.

The Hungaroring places a premium on qualifying well, however. So any of these drivers that does especially well on Saturday can expect to score on Sunday. But which ones will?