Verstappen fights through field to win Hungarian GP from tenth

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Strategy played an essential part in today's race but Max Verstappen and Red Bull mastered it all perfectly to come through the field and win the Hungarian Grand Prix after disappointment in qualifying. Hamilton and Russell secured the second consecutive double podium for Mercedes.

Contrary to last year, all cars got away cleanly when the lights went out. George Russell made the most of his pole position to go into the lead on a used set of soft tyres, ahead of a well starting Carlos Sainz. Leclerc duly followed in third, ahead of Norris.

Hamilton moved ahead of both Alpines as Ocon also somewhat prevented Alonso from moving further up. In fact, Perez even got ahead of Alonso at the start but the latter got the position back, bringing him into 7th just ahead of the Red Bull duo. At Red Bull of course Verstappen soon got ahead of Perez to challenge the Alpines.

On lap 4, Verstappen moved past Alonso after the Spaniard was a little bit out of shape on the exit of Turn 4. This meant that the next lap, each Alpine was virtually shadowed by a Red Bull with the latter duo on softs clearly a lot more feisty through the corners. On lap 6, Verstappen moved up another spot while Perez did the same a few corners further in the same lap.

Behind them, Magnussen fought to defend his tenth place but despite being on fresh softs he pitted on lap 7 already, promoting Ricciardo into the top 10. Schumacher, Bottas and Stroll, all closely behind the McLaren driver came one spot closer to the points scoring positions. Magnussen returned to the track dead last on fresh hard tyres.

In the fight for fourth Hamilton struggled to get past Norris. The McLaren's softer tyres were clearly an advantage in the early stage but then finally on lap 11 Norris got passed at the end of the main straight. Verstappen, also on softs enjoyed much better traction out of Turn 1 and immediately followed through with Hamilton. A single lap later Perez also made an easy DRS pass on the McLaren, dropping Norris 3 positions over the course of two laps.

Norris's pace was suddenly terrible and by the time he got called in to pit he lost another 4s, staying just ahead of Ocon.

In front Leclerc upped the pressure on Sainz and kindly asked his engineer to ask Carlos to speed up. The Spaniard immediately did so, quickly slashing Russell's advantage down to get within DRS range after a number of laps where Sainz followed at around two seconds of the race leader.

On lap 16, Sainz got called in but instead it was Russell and Verstappen who pitted. Sainz pitted the next lap and changed his mediums for another new set of mediums. When Sainz came out in between the Alpines, Russell had just passed Ocon for fourth.

Perez changed to mediums on lap 18 and returned in 10th place while Hamilton pitted one lap later, also to take on mediums and back out in 7th place. This effectively dropped him behind Verstappen and Alonso who had thus far been behind Hamilton.

After a few quick laps in front, Leclerc pitted on lap 20, enjoying a much faster pitstop than Sainz. When he came back out on track he was only just ahead of Sainz and 3s down on Russell. Leclerc soon went on to close the gap to Russell and put the pressure on the Mercedes driver. At the start of lap 27 they crossed the line with a difference of only 0.004s but Russell held on for a few more laps until Leclerc made a decisive move at the end of the track to take the lead. Russell had gone to the inside to defend yet again but it wasn't enough.

Meanwhile the Alpines sort of shot themselves in the foot again. When Ocon came back out just ahead of Alonso, Ocon was so busy to defend to his teammate through Turns 2 and 3 that Ricciardo managed to find the gap and pass both of them at once. Both blue cars clearly struggled in the following laps on their hard tyres Everybody ahead, as well as the Aston Martins right behind were on mediums. Predictably, Stroll and Vettel soon found their ways past the Alpines.

At lap 33, the gaps in front were still marginal with Leclerc leading Russell by 2.5s. Sainz followed 0.9s further down and Verstappen an extra 2.1s further. Even Hamilton followed at just 5s of Verstanne with Perez 10s behind Hamilton.

On lap 38 Verstappen became the first to pit, changing to new mediums. Leclerc and Russell reacted to do the same the next lap as Verstappen had immediately set two purple sectors. The quick out-lap of Verstappen saw Russell rejoin behind Verstappen. Leclerc though was put on hard tyres and soon found out the trouble with that compound. Verstappen got let past by Perez quickly and Leclerc was a sitting duck with cold tyres and nobody ahead of him with DRS.

One lap later Verstappen spun in the penultimate corner and saw Leclerc breeze past yet again. Perez then hesitated to pass his teammate who was getting back up to speed, enabling Russell to get past Perez for 5th place.

Verstappen quickly rejoined Leclerc to fight for third place and got past the Ferrari in lap 44.

A few minutes later some drops fell on the track as Sainz, Ricciardo, Stroll, Vettel and Gasly pitted. For Sainz it was yet another suboptimal stop as he was at a standstill for 4.7 seconds as the mechanics struggled to fit the left rear soft tyre. Sainz returned to the track 8s down on Russell as Hamilton inherited the lead with just 5s ahead of Verstappen and 7.2 ahead of Leclerc. Russell at the same time looked to pass Leclerc while Sainz started to come back thanks to his soft tyres.

Hamilton pitted on lap 50 to switch to softs, gifting the lead to Verstappen as Russell passed Leclerc on the main straight to take second place. The pace was such that Leclerc was pitted again on lap 54 to complete the remaining 16 laps on soft. Leclerc therefore dropped to 6th place, 7s behind the medium-shod Perez.

But it got even worse for Ferrari as Hamilton got past Sainz for third place with 8 laps to go. The Briton wasn't satisfied yet and soon found himself in the slipstream of Russell to battle for second place. Russell went defensive at the end of the straight but traction out of Turn 1 was a lot better for Hamilton, switching the Mercedes's positions before Turn 3.

Three laps from the end, Bottas rolled to a halt and triggered a virtual safety car. Marshalls and Bottas himself didn't seem all too hurried and by the time the race got going again in the penultimate lap it was properly raining.

The rain though wasn't enough to upset anyone, leaving positions unchanged. This sealed a great and unexpected result for Max Verstappen, another double podium for Mercedes and another huge disillusion for the entire Scuderia Ferrari.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt701:39:35.91225
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes70+7.834s19
363George RussellMercedes70+12.337s15
455Carlos SainzFerrari70+14.579s12
511Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt70+15.688s10
616Charles LeclercFerrari70+16.047s8
74Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes70+78.300s6
814Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault69+1 lap4
931Esteban OconAlpine Renault69+1 lap2
105Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes69+1 lap1
1118Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes69+1 lap0
1210Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt69+1 lap0
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari69+1 lap0
1447Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari69+1 lap0
153Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes69+1 lap0
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari69+1 lap0
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes69+1 lap0
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes69+1 lap0
1922Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt68+2 laps0
2077Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari65DNF0

Lewis Hamilton earned an additional point for setting fastest lap