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A week of agony and ecstasy

The build-up to this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix reminds us of the fickle nature of motor racing, writes Steve Slater.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2009 00:15 IST

The build-up to this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix reminds us of the fickle nature of motor racing.

On one hand, Toro Rosso are set to introduce Jaime Alguersuari. The 19-year-old Spaniard will become the youngest-ever driver to take part in a F1 Grand Prix.

Sadly though, the darker side of the sport revealed itself last weekend, when Henry Surtees, the son of former world champion John Surtees, was killed while racing in the Formula Two Championship.

It was, by all accounts, a freak accident. A wheel from another car, which had hit the barriers, bounced back onto the track and hit Surtees's car, which then skid off the track, its driver already unconscious. Henry was just 18.

The tragic irony is that Surtees senior survived some of the darkest years of motor racing safety. John remains the only man to clinch world titles on both two-wheels and four during times when it, especially motorcycle riding, was little more than a novel way of committing suicide.

Surtees junior was driving a state-of-the-art car, designed by the Williams Formula One team, and not too far removed from current F1 machinery.

Meanwhile, all credit must be given to Dietrich Mateschitz and Red Bull for supporting their latest teenage protégé, Alguersuari, all the way to the top.

It is a fantastic endorsement of Red Bull's young driver programme, which over the years has also given support to other rising stars including Robert Kubica, Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna.

As for the weekend race, I think Sebastian Vettel's recent successes put him in a strong position to not only bid for his third win of the season, but also battle with Jenson Button for the champion's title.

The Hungaroring has got a reputation of favouring young drivers. The tight twists of the Hungaroring don't offer many chances for overtaking, but that doesn't mean that races are boring.

The warmer track conditions might well play to the Brawn GP team as tyre wear may prove critical. I suspect that Button may be the man to watch for victory this weekend to keep his championship hopes alive, but watch out for those charging Red Bulls right behind.

Steve Slater is a commentator for STAR Sports' coverage of the Formula One