Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious in the 34th Hungarian Grand Prix, winning a thrilling battle with Max Verstappen in a race where strategy decided the final outcome. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completed the Hungaroring podium.
While pole-sitter Verstappen could keep his position after the start, Valtteri Bottas lost out to his team mate Lewis Hamilton only to lose another place to Charles Leclerc. The Finn’s front wing suffered serious damage while Hamilton made the overtaking move on him, forcing Mercedes to call Bottas into the pit for a wing change.
At the front, Verstappen and Hamilton pulled away from the Ferrari duo, circling over half a second faster than the red cars. After his early pit stop, Bottas rejoined the track in the last position. The Finn started his comeback by closing the gap to last-placed driver Robert Kubica, overtook him, and continued from there on to slowly make his way up through the field.
On lap 19, Daniil Kvyat made an ambitious move on his team mate Alexander Albon, forcing the Thai driver off the track at Turn 4 and overtaking him into the next corner. Four laps later, Mercedes made a fake pit stop to invite Verstappen into the box. However, Red Bull did not respond and Mercedes also delayed its stop. Meanwhile, Bottas had difficulty with finding the way to overtake Daniel Ricciardo.
Max Verstappen came into the pits on lap 26 for his only tyre change. His Red Bull was fitted with the white-banded Pirelli hard compound. Hamilton stayed out on the track for another six laps before he came in for fresh tyres. The Brtion’s stop lasted four seconds, longer than ideally because of a slight delay with attaching the wheels.
When the Briton rejoined the track, he immediately set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m19.653 on his fresh C2 Pirelli compound. Vettel was the last top driver to complete his pit stop with the German diving on lap 40 into the pits for fresh. Similar to Mercedes, Ferrari also had a delay at the right front corner of the car, meaning that the tyre change lasted 5.8 seconds.
Red Bull instructed Verstappen on lap 45 to use Honda’s most powerful engine settings. Three laps later, Bottas came in to the pits for another set of fresh medium tyres. Hamilton also elected to pit for a second time as he could not find the way past the Dutchman. On his new mediums, the Brtion was blisteringly quick and recorded the fatest time of the race with a 1m19.199 immediately.
Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly was fighting for fifth place with Carlos Sainz. The Frenchman was driving within one second to the Spaniard.
Brilliant strategy move
In the closing stages, Hamilton made inroads on his much fresher tyres, closing in on Verstappen quickly. With six laps to go, the gap between Verstappen and Hamilton completely diminished and the Briton managed to hunt down his rival and take over the lead with the help of DRS.
Realizing that Mercedes enjoyed an enormous pace advantage, Red Bull instructed Verstappen to visit the pits for a fresh set of soft tyres. The seven-time Grand Prix winner could make use of his new Pirellis to set the fastest race lap with a time of 1m17.103, breaking the previous track record.
Ferrari could not keep up with the Red Bull’s and Mercedes’ pace in any segment o the race, bringing the two SF90s to the third and fourth place. However, there was a late-race change in the order as Sebastian Vettel hunted Charles Leclerc down in the dying stages with his fresher tyres after stretching out his first stint to finish third in the 12th round of the championship.
|2||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||70||+17.796s||19|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||69||+1 lap||10|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||RED BULL RACING HONDA||69||+1 lap||8|
|7||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||69||+1 lap||6|
|8||77||Valtteri Bottas||MERCEDES||69||+1 lap||4|
|9||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||69||+1 lap||2|
|10||23||Alexander Albon||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||69||+1 lap||1|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||69||+1 lap||0|
|12||27||Nico Hulkenberg||RENAULT||69||+1 lap||0|
|13||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||69||+1 lap||0|
|14||3||Daniel Ricciardo||RENAULT||69||+1 lap||0|
|15||26||Daniil Kvyat||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||68||+2 laps||0|
|16||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||68||+2 laps||0|
|17||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||68||+2 laps||0|
|18||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||68||+2 laps||0|
|19||88||Robert Kubica||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||67||+3 laps||0|
|NC||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||49||DNF||0|