Hamilton chases down Verstappen and takes Hungarian Grand Prix victory

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton snatches victory from rival Max Verstappen with four laps to the flag following a strategy switch from the Mercedes Formula 1 racing team to defeat Red Bull.

Hamilton swapped to a two-stop tyre strategy in a bid to use fresh Pirelli to mount a late attack on Verstappen.

Verstappen held on until the start of lap 67, when Hamilton used DRS to attack on the outside into Turn 1 and Verstappen’s “dead” tyres left him powerless in defence.

A switch to soft tyres for the final three laps allowed Verstappen to at least score a bonus point for fastest lap, as Ferrari’s lead driver Sebastian Vettel completed the podium – though more than a minute behind race winner Hamilton.

Verstappen held onto the lead at the start as fellow front-row driver Valtteri Bottas locked up attacking on the outside and made light side-by-side contact with his Mercedes teammate Hamilton.

Bottas tried to defend from Hamilton into Turn 2 but locked up again, allowing Hamilton to cut back and went by around the outside into Turn 3 – compromising Bottas and letting Charles Leclerc to get ahead in his Ferrari.

Leclerc made contact with Bottas in the process and the Mercedes driver’s front wing was broken, which proved too problematic to continue with beyond lap five, triggering an early pitstop and destorying Bottas’s race.

At the front, Verstappen quickly established a two-second advantage but Hamilton fought back and was almost inside DRS range when Verstappen – complaining of losing grip – pit on lap 25.

Mercedes opted to extend Hamilton’s stint six laps beyond Verstappen’s, which dropped him 5.8 seconds behind when he rejoined but Hamilton’s pace on fresh tyres rapidly eliminated the gap.

He had DRS to attack Verstappen within five laps of rejoining, causing Verstappen to defend slightly into Turn 1 just as the race went past mid-distance.

Hamilton then took to the outside at Turn 4 but ran wide, slightly onto the run-off, which allowed Verstappen breathing space.

Verstappen requested more engine power in his bid to keep Hamilton out of DRS range but Hamilton was also suffering with brake wear, meaning another attack was not forthcoming.

Mercedes made the inspired strategy call by stopping Hamilton again on lap 48, a move Red Bull opted not to cover – giving Hamilton 20 laps to attack a 20-second gap to Verstappen on fresh tyres.

With six laps to go, and Hamilton just 5.5 seconds behind, Verstappen reported his tyres were “dead”, and two laps later Hamilton was within DRS range.

The Mercedes driver breezed by on the outside into the first corner with superior grip and braking performance, and with Verstappen unable to finish the race on his wrecked rubber the Red Bull dived into the pits.

Leclerc looked set to complete the podium after a difficult race from Ferrari, which faded from the lead battle swiftly and never looked like recovering.

However, Vettel switched to “Plan C”, which meant a long final stint on softs and a tall task up the time he lost to Leclerc by extending his first stint.

With just under three laps left Vettel caught and dived inside Leclerc at Turn 1 with an aggressive move to wrest the final podium position.

Carlos Sainz took advantage of Bottas’s nightmare race and a bad start for Pierre Gasly to steal fifth for McLaren, having also jumped his teammate Lando Norris on the opening lap.

Sainz ran in that position throughout the Hungarian Grand Prix and then withstood pressure from Gasly in the other Red Bull to finish fifth for the second race in a row.

Norris could have completed a 5-6 result for the Woking-based team but a problem with the left-rear meant a slow pitstop and dropped him behind Gasly and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.

He was too far behind to catch or pressure Raikkonen, who matched his best result of the season with seventh.

Bottas’s recovery was limited to eighth position, passing Norris late on, despite Mercedes predicting he could make it back to sixth.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon caught and passed teammate Daniil Kvyat and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez in the final third of the grand prix to complete the top ten and score another point.

Romain Grosjean was the race’s only retirement.

The Haas driver ran inside the top ten early on but slipped back after a long first stint did not pay off, and his car was wheeled into the garage with a water pressure problem with more than 20 laps remaining.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in winning his seventh Hungarian Grand Prix and such a brilliant fightback in chasing down Max Verstappen. Kudos to Mercedes in making the inspired pit crew to pit Hamilton for fresh set of tyres, giving a great chance in grip and performance.

As for Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. This is racing. After the highs of Hockenheim a week earlier and that qualifying performance, second position is still a solid result.

Hungarian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35:03.796
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +17.796s
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +61.433s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +65.250s
5 Carlos Sainz McLaren-Renault +1 lap
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda +1 lap
7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +1 lap
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +1 lap
10 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1 lap
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +1 lap
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda +2 laps
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +2 laps
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo=Ferrari +2 laps
19 Robert Kubica Williams=Mercedes +3 laps
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari DNF

Verstappen achieves maiden pole position

A week on from that incredible Hockenheim race win, Max Verstappen claimed his first pole position at the Hungaroring for Red Bull Racing.

The Red Bull driver becomes the 100th different driver in Formula 1 to achieve pole. Verstappen looked in control in the very first runs in Q3 with a lap of one minute, 14.958 seconds, which put him 0.178 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

While Bottas was able to eclipse Verstappen’s time at the second attempt, Verstappen then went ever faster in a one minute, 14.572 seconds to take pole position by just 0.018 seconds thanks to his speed in the final sector.

Lewis Hamilton was two tenths off the pace in third position ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who survived spinning backwards into the barrier at the last corner during Q1 to earn fourth position.

Sebastian Vettel was half-a-second off the pace in fifth position ahead of the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly, who was almost nine tenths off his teammate’s pace.

All of the top six will start Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix using medium Pirellis having used that tyre to set their time in Q2.

McLaren led the way in the battle for midfield supremacy, with Lando Norris shading Carlos Sainz by 0.052 seconds.

Romain Grosjean took eighth in the Australian Grand Prix-specification Haas, 0.028 seconds faster than the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was bumped to P11 and quickest of those eliminated in Q2 by Raikkonen’s late lap – missing out by less than half-a-tenth.

Although Hulkenberg failed to improve on his second run, that was still enough to keep him ahead of fellow non-improvers Toro Rosso pairing Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat.

Antonio Giovinazzi was P14 for Alfa Romeo having also failed to find time at the second attempt, putting him ahead of Kevin Magnussen in the latest-specification Haas, who was unable to repeat his strong Q1 pace in Q2.

Giovinazzi also faces the threat of a grid penalty for impeding Lance Stroll’s Racing Point at Turn 5, with the race stewards investigating the incident after the qualifying session.

George Russell missed out on a first appearance in Q2 by just 0.053 seconds having been in the top 15 until the last moment in the first segment of qualifying.

Russell had made sure of clear track for his final run by making his attempt just before the rest started their laps, temporarily climbing as high as eighth.

But he was shuffled down the order as others completed their final laps, with Hulkenberg the final driver to get ahead and push him into the Q1 drop-zone.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez did enough on his final run to jump ahead of the second Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, who had to back out of his final lap.

Ricciardo was caught in a gaggle of traffic at the last corner ahead of the start of his lap and attempted to find clear air by going around Perez before having to back out of it when the Racing Point driver was unwilling to let him go.

Stroll was P19 in the Racing Point, eight tenths faster than Williams driver Robert Kubica.

So an exciting and highly competitive qualifying session. Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen came out on top. Congratulations to Verstappen in finally claiming his first pole position. It’s been a long time coming, 93 attempts but the end result is just perfect. Bring on the race!

Hungarian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m14.572s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m14.590s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m14.769s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m15.043s
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m15.071s
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m15.450s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m15.800s
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m15.852s
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m16.013s
10 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m16.041s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m16.565s
12 Alex Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 1m16.687s
13 Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m16.692s
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m16.804s
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m17.081s
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m17.031s
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m17.109s
18 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m17.257s
19 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m17.542s
20 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m18.324s