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

5 thoughts to “Hamilton chases down Verstappen and takes Hungarian Grand Prix victory”

  1. Hungarian Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    The Hungaroring has delivered some cracking races in its illustrious history but few were as thrilling as this year’s edition, as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen had a race-long ding-dong battle for the lead, with Mercedes playing a strategy masterstroke and Hamilton doing his bit by brilliantly hunting down the Red Bull driver to clinch a sensational victory.

    Hamilton has been the class of the field in this era of F1, while Verstappen has emerged as the driver to take his mantel. As Red Bull have closed the gap to Mercedes this year, the chances of the duo fighting wheel-to-wheel have increased and in Hungary we were treated to the kind of battle for the lead that we expect to see much more of in the future.

    Verstappen led away from pole position, but Hamilton made things exciting by passing Valtteri Bottas at Turn 2 before setting off in pursuit of the Dutchman. Red Bull looked to have nailed the strategy when they pitted Verstappen six laps before Hamilton and ended up with a six-second lead, with both drivers running the hard tyres. But then things got exciting.

    Hamilton hunted Verstappen down, launching an attack that almost clinched the lead. He backed off to cool his brakes, but then Mercedes rolled the dice and pitted him for an unscheduled second stop, fitting the medium tyres. Hamilton wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do, questioning the decision on the radio. But he needn’t have worried.

    The Briton chased down Verstappen, who was forced to stay out because had he reacted to the stop he would have rejoined behind in second. That meant he had to make his hard tyres last – but it was too tall an order and with three laps to go, Hamilton made the pass to take the lead, going on to take his seventh Hungarian GP win.

    Verstappen was forced to pit, having run out of tyres, and came back out in second. He promptly pumped in the fastest lap, to get the extra bonus point, and crossed the line 17.7s adrift with Sebastian Vettel passing Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc late on for third, but he was a staggering 61.4s down on the race winner.

    Carlos Sainz continued his sensational run of form with a brilliant fifth for McLaren, albeit it one lap down, ahead of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen. Bottas, who was forced to pit early on for a new nose after contact with Hamilton and Leclerc, recovered to eighth, with McLaren’s Lando Norris and Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon completing the top 10.

    Glorious conditions greeted the drivers at the Hungaroring on Sunday, with swathes of Max Verstappen and Robert Kubica fans packing the grandstands and chanting their respective hero’s name ahead of the start.

    Pole-sitter Verstappen got away cleanly, unlike in Germany, to lead into Turn 1 with Bottas locking up to allow Mercedes team mate Hamilton to close up. The Finn locked up again into Turn 2, allowing Hamilton to sneak past at Turn 3, the two making light contact in the process.

    Charles Leclerc capitalised on the Mercedes squabbling, as Bottas lost momentum, and mugged him a few corners later to take third, the duo making contact and a piece of Bottas’ front wing breaking off.

    He tried to continue, but was losing three seconds a lap to leader Verstappen, so Mercedes were forced to box him, dropping him to the back of the field, nearly 50 seconds behind.

    That error meant Mercedes relinquished their advantage of having two cars up front to tag team and attack Verstappen with strategy. Hamilton stayed within two seconds of the Red Bull with relative ease, as the duo pulled well clear of the Ferraris, who in turn had a big lead on McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who had jumped team mate Lando Norris at the start.

    Verstappen complained for several laps about his tyres, but his team told him to stay out. It became clear Red Bull were trying to build a gap so that he could pit and rejoin ahead of the Ferraris in second. Eventually, they relented, with Verstappen pitting at the end of lap 24.

    Mercedes responded by telling Hamilton ‘it’s Hammertime’ as they set about trying to gain time while in clear air before their stop. The Briton managed to extend his stint by six laps, boxing to take hard tyres, the same as Verstappen, and rejoining six seconds adrift.

    On a track where overtaking is tricky, that could have been considered game over, but Hamilton had other ideas. The Mercedes driver put the hammer down, pumping in a series of extraordinary laps to slash the gap to just under half a second.

    Approaching half distance, Hamilton attacked into Turn 1, but Verstappen covered the inside. Hamilton tried around the outside of Turn 2 and then tucked in on the approach to Turn 4. But as he pulled to the outside, he clipped the grass and though he ran side by side, and inched ahead, it destabilised his car and he ran out wide, before rejoining in second.

    The Briton was then told to back off and cool the brakes, allowing Verstappen to get some breathing space. Hamilton seemed frustrated to have to halt the attack while Verstappen demanded his team gave him more power.

    Then came the twist as Mercedes rolled the dice and boxed Hamilton, fitting a set of the medium tyres. He rejoined 20 seconds adrift and was instantly questioning the decision. Verstappen asked why Red Bull didn’t pit him in response, to which Red Bull replied they couldn’t otherwise they would have lost track position.

    Initially, Hamilton was baulked by traffic – hampering his attack – but in clear air, he got down to business, pulling out a series of new lap records to take chunks out of the lead. With 12 laps to go, the gap was just 12s.

    That became five seconds with six laps to go, setting the scene for a dramatic finish with Hamilton’s Mercedes oozing speed and Verstappen declaring his tyres were dead. The Red Bull driver was a sitting duck, with Hamilton reeling him in and easing past at Turn 1 to snatch the lead with three laps to go.

    Verstappen boxed the next time around, his tyres done, the Red Bull driver rejoining comfortably in second. Vettel, having run very deep into the race to allow him to take the softs, caught and passed team mate Leclerc to take third in the closing stages.

    Sainz overtook team mate Norris at the start of the race and then showed strong pace throughout to finish fifth for the second successive race, with Gasly recovering from a poor start where he lost three places to take sixth.

    Raikkonen secured seventh for his fourth points finish in five races, with Bottas limping home eighth, meaning he has scored just four points in the last two races.

    Norris was set to finish sixth, but a slow stop meant he dropped down the field, ending up ninth for his fifth points finish of the year, while Albon made it into the top 10 for the second race in succession.

    It was the perfect response from Mercedes, who suffered a shocking home Grand Prix last time out in Germany with Hamilton extending his championship lead over Bottas to 62 points heading into the summer break.

  2. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen admitted that Lewis Hamilton push in the final moments of the race showed “how much margin” Mercedes has in terms of raw pace. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Max Verstappen believes Formula 1 rival Lewis Hamilton’s late charge to victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix showed “how much margin” Hamilton’s Mercedes team has.

    Verstappen had beaten the two Mercedes cars to pole position on Sunday, but was under pressure from Hamilton for the whole race.

    And while he fought off Hamilton’s attacks mid-race while they were running on the same tyre, he was powerless to prevent the Briton from going through once Hamilton had pitted to equip a fresh set of mediums and methodically erased the gap to Verstappen before the end.

    Red Bull has often excelled in race trim in 2019, but when asked whether his team had been caught out by the lack of representative running on Friday, Verstappen suggested the edge Mercedes had on Sunday was simply down to it having more up its sleeve.

    “I think you can see how much margin they still have when they really need to push,” Verstappen said.

    “I think Lewis today was on fire as well, but then you see, once he really has to go for it, you can see that that car is still the dominant car. It’s as simple as that. Whereas in some races it’s maybe not as necessary [to run at full capacity].

    “Of course they had their issues in Austria with overheating so then you can’t push. In Hockenheim it was tricky conditions as well, so can’t really drive to the limit of the car. But here today I think he had to go for it, flat out, because I was also pushing flat out, and you can see what they are capable of as a team.”

    While he’d led most of the race, Verstappen said being passed by Hamilton late on was not a big blow, as he was aware “we were just not fast enough”.

    “Of course at one point I started to run out of tyres, trying to keep up with Lewis’ pace on those medium tyres, trying to keep it [the delta] within a second – it’s almost impossible.

    “So I ran out of tyres, and of course you can see it coming, so for me it was not a big disappointment once he passed me, because it’s just a normal thing to happen.

    “But anyway you know, we have to be realistic – he was just clearly faster today. Always I think I was struggling a little bit more for grip than him, he could keep the pressure on, and of course when you are in second you can gamble to do a two-stop.

    “For me it was all about always trying to cover him to stay ahead, but with a two-stop, worst-case scenario you stay second, and best-case you overtake me.“

  3. Initially, Mercedes had ruled out a two-stop strategy before race. But in the actual racing event, this strategy proved the way to beat Red Bull and Max Verstappen. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes had actually ruled out the two-stop strategy “gamble” he used to overhaul Max Verstappen to win Formula 1’s 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of the race.

    After Verstappen and Hamilton broke clear of the pack early in the Hungaroring event, Mercedes opted to extend Hamilton’s first stint when Verstappen switched to hard rubber.

    Hamilton stayed out for six laps and then used his newer rubber to quickly close in on the Red Bull before Mercedes pitted him again to switch to fresh mediums and a two-stopper.

    The reigning world champion initially questioned the move as he had to close a 20-second gap in the race’s final third, but he rapidly cut Verstappen’s advantage as his rival lost performance on his aging hards and took the lead with a move around the outside of the first corner with four laps remaining.

    “It will be interesting when we go back and talk about two-stop, because today this morning we talked about pit strategy and they said two-stop is not going to happen,” Hamilton said in the post-race press conference.

    “And even when we called to do a two-stop, I was like ‘Jeez I don’t know how this is going to work’.

    “It felt like a big gamble for us, and at the time I felt like I had the pace on Max [on the hards].

    “I don’t know if he was backing off, but I felt like I may have [had] a few attempts at trying to pass him.

    “But at some stage the tyres are going to go off, so I don’t know how many attempts that would be. I really don’t know how long I made those mediums go [at the end].

    “I think it was just collectively a really bold, risky strategy call, and just doing the job at the end of the day.

    “I had to do those laps to chew up the gap that he had on me – I think collectively as a team we did a really exceptional job.”

    Hamilton explained that he had to “put all doubt and all question marks out of my mind” to cut Verstappen’s late-race advantage.

    “[I just had to] do the best laps I could do, every single lap, with consistency and not dropping at any time whatsoever,” he continued. “I had one of the more consistent period of laps that I think I’ve had.

    “I don’t know if he had traffic or whatever mistakes, but it looked like the gap started to drop down quite quickly and I think with four laps to go, five laps to go, I had four seconds ahead and I could see him in my sights, maybe struggling with his tyres.

    “I was like ‘OK, we’ve got a serious race on here’ – and it felt like the steepest kind of wall to climb when I’d come out that far behind.

    “But the team had relaxed faith that we’d do it – so I’m grateful for their hard work.”

  4. As for Red Bull, the team commented that it was trapped in “all to lose” situation in Hungary considering the raw speed of Lewis Hamilton. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Red Bull says there was nothing else it could have done to try to help Max Verstappen win the Hungarian Grand Prix, with the Dutchman trapped in an ‘all to lose’ situation that was unable to counter the ultimately quicker Mercedes car of Lewis Hamilton.

    Verstappen led the Hungaroring race from pole position and appeared to have enough to hold off Hamilton during the opening phase of the race.

    But Mercedes elected to switch Hamilton to a fresh set of medium tyres so he could make an end of race charge. Verstappen did not have enough of an advantage to cover that move, so he had to try to hold on at the front with older rubber.

    In the end, the Dutchman did not quite have enough pace because Hamilton was able to close a 19-second deficit and swoop in to the lead with four laps to go.

    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is adamant that his outfit did not get its strategy wrong, and says its biggest handicap was having to fight a Mercedes car that was quicker in the race.

    Asked by Motorsport.com if he had considered stopping twice like Hamilton, Horner said: “No. It was all to lose.

    “If we had stopped and they had done the opposite, then they had what looked like a little bit more of a pace advantage. They had six lap fresher tyres and I don’t think we would have caught Lewis at the pace he caught us.

    “So it is frustrating that there were no other drivers in the mix because if he had dropped behind a Ferrari or even his teammate, then it would not have been an option open to them. But that is the way it goes sometimes.”

    Horner said Verstappen’s understanding of the situation he was in explained why he was so calm after the race, despite having lost out so close to the chequered flag.

    “I think he has driven with great maturity,” said Horner. “To lose a race with four laps to go is hugely frustrating, but he gets the bigger picture. He knew the situation we were in and he understood how the race was being read.

    “To the layman you could think that Red Bull got its strategy wrong. We didn’t. Mercedes just had a quicker car and the ability of a free stop opened up for them.”

  5. Valtteri Bottas says that the first-lap move by Charles Leclerc that damaged the front wing of his Mercedes Formula 1 car in Hungary was “completely unnecessary.”

    Bottas suffered a damaged front right endplate after Leclerc’s Ferrari clipped him as the Monegasque went past on the run up to Turn 4.

    The Mercedes driver kept going for a few laps but he was forced to pit at the end of lap 5 for a new front wing, which dropped him to the rear of the field.

    “I was on the outside of [Max] Verstappen, so I tried to brake late, tried to go for the outside,” said the Finn, who would recover to finish eighth.

    “He braked late as well, so I had a bit of a lock-up, so that caused a bit of a flat spot, so going into Turn 2 I had some understeer because of that.

    “But it was all OK. Lewis [Hamilton] was also on the outside, but there was still room for two of us, maybe left a bit too much because he could carry good speed into Turn 3.

    “We were side-by-side, for sure he didn’t leave any room for me, so that compromised my exit out of Turn 3, I had to lift. Then on the way to Turn 4 Charles came on the right hand side and suddenly swept across, and took my front wing.

    “So that was it really, it compromised the race, and losing big chunks of time in the beginning, then stopped early, going through traffic all through the race, that was really the story.”

    Bottas admitted that initially he thought he might have been at fault, but he changed his mind upon reviewing replays after the race.

    “At the time when it happened I thought I was just focussed on something else, and maybe didn’t see him, but it happened pretty quick. But then when I saw the onboard, and when I saw Vettel’s onboard, it was clear that I was just going straight ahead, he was on the right, and he would have been anyways ahead of me before Turn 4 going straight.

    “But then suddenly he swept across and for me it was too late to react. I love hard racing, that’s for sure, but that was completely unnecessary, and for sure compromised my race. He was lucky enough not to get a puncture. That’s not how it should be.”

    Leclerc, who would end up taking fourth place in the event, insisted that he wasn’t really aware of the contact.

    “I don’t really know to be honest,” said the Monegasque driver. “I felt a small touch but I don’t really know what happened. I have no idea, I haven’t seen it.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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