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Hamilton runs down Verstappen to win Hungarian GP

Daniel Herrero

Monday 5th August, 2019 - 1:18am

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Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has run down and passed long-time leader Max Verstappen with four laps remaining to win the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Verstappen led the vast majority of the 70-lap race and had even survived one serious attack from Hamilton just past the halfway point, but a move to a two-stop strategy proved a masterstroke from Mercedes.

With Hamilton on a fresh set of medium compound tyres, he hunted Verstappen down in the final 22 laps and drove around the outside of the Red Bull at Turn 1 at the Hungaroring.

Joining Hamilton and Verstappen on the podium was Sebastian Vettel, who passed Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc late in the race after they too diverted on strategy.

Valtteri Bottas finished eighth after an early setback and now trails team-mate Hamilton by 62 world championship points, while Daniel Ricciardo was ultimately 14th from the very back of the grid.

Verstappen converted pole position into the early lead as the Mercedes squabbled over second position through the opening corners.

Bottas copped a hit from Hamilton when the Brit went down his inside at Turn 3, then another from Charles Leclerc as the Ferrari driver got by on the run to Turn 4.

Vettel passed Bottas’ wounded Mercedes on Lap 2 and the Finn persevered only until the end of Lap 5 before he pitted for a new front wing and switched from medium to hard compound tyres.

Race control subsequently advised that no investigation was necessary into the hit from Leclerc despite the Monegasque appearing to veer into Car #77.

Verstappen ran a little over two seconds clear for the first quarter of the race until Hamilton chipped away when the Dutchman began to want for tyre life.

The margin between the two was less than a second on Lap 24, before Verstappen got back to 1.4s up when he did pit at the end of Lap 25, replacing medium compound tyres with hards.

Crucially, he rejoined ahead of third-placed Leclerc as Hamilton pressed on at the front.

Hamilton circulated for another six laps before he made the same tyre change and was six seconds behind Verstappen once he got up to speed, in part due to slow work replacing the right-front.

The Mercedes driver made quick work of wiping out that gap, gaining two seconds on Lap 34 alone to sit right behind Car #33.

He tried an optimistic outside move at Turn 2 on Lap 36, which did not work, but traffic favoured the chaser.

Hamilton had a tantalising opportunity when Verstappen closed in on Ricciardo towards the end of Lap 38.

He tried to blaze around the outside at Turn 4 on the following lap and while he nosed ahead, he did not go on with the move having ventured onto the run-off on exit.

Verstappen had a short reprieve before the lead was again oscillating around the crucial one-second mark.

That was until Mercedes changed the strategy game by calling Hamilton in to return to medium tyres on Lap 48, and he was quick enough on his out lap to prevent Red Bull from responding.

Hamilton approximately halved the gap to be 10.9s behind with 10 laps remaining and was soon stripping seconds at a time from Verstappen’s advantage.

He caught Car #33 on Lap 66 and made an outside pass which almost looked easy at the start of Lap 67.

The positional change prompted Red Bull to immediately pit Verstappen for a set of soft compound tyres and he duly took the fastest lap bonus point from Hamilton with a 1:17.103s on Lap 69.

Vettel made the final step of the podium, albeit more than a minute behind Hamilton, by diving down the inside of Leclerc at Turn 1 on Lap 68.

Leclerc had pitted for hard compound tyres on Lap 27 but Vettel ran a dozen laps longer before implementing what had been described to him on the radio as ‘Plan C’.

That plan was a second and final stint on soft tyres, giving the German the grip to chase down his team-mate.

Leclerc was the last car on the lead lap in fourth, while Carlos Sainz took his McLaren to fifth, ahead of Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) and Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo).

Bottas could only salvage eighth having dropped to the rear of the 20-car field when he was forced into his early first stop.

Rounding out the top 10 were Lando Norris (McLaren) and Alexander Albon (Scuderia Toro Rosso).

Ricciardo was the only driver to start on hard tyres and ran an opening stint of well over 40 laps before resuming in 15th position on soft tyres.

Try as he might, he could not pass Kevin Magnussen (Haas), but they each gained one position when Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) faded at the end.

F1 now goes into its summer break, which concludes with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on August 30-September 1.

Race results: Hungarian Grand Prix

Pos Num Driver Car Laps Time/Retired
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 70 1:35:03.796
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 70 +17.796
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 70 +61.433
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 70 +65.250
5 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 69 +1 lap
6 10 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing Honda 69 +1 lap
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 69 +1 lap
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 69 +1 lap
9 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 69 +1 lap
10 23 Alexander Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 69 +1 lap
11 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point BWT Mercedes 69 +1 lap
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 69 +1 lap
13 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 69 +1 lap
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 69 +1 lap
15 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 68 +2 laps
16 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 68 +2 laps
17 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point BWT Mercedes 68 +2 laps
18 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 68 +2 laps
19 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 67 +3 laps
NC 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 49 DNF

Fastest lap: Max Verstappen

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Pts
1 Lewis Hamilton 250
2 Valtteri Bottas 188
3 Max Verstappen 181
4 Sebastian Vettel 156
5 Charles Leclerc 132
6 Pierre Gasly 63
7 Carlos Sainz 58
8 Kimi Räikkönen 31
9 Daniil Kvyat 27
10 Lando Norris 24
11 Daniel Ricciardo 22
12 Lance Stroll 18
13 Kevin Magnussen 18
14 Nico Hulkenberg 17
15 Alexander Albon 16
16 Sergio Perez 13
17 Romain Grosjean 8
18 Antonio Giovinazzi 1
19 Robert Kubica 1
20 George Russell 0

Constructors’ championship

Pos Team Pts
1 Mercedes 438
2 Ferrari 288
3 Red Bull Racing Honda 244
4 McLaren Renault 82
5 Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 43
6 Renault 39
7 Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 32
8 Racing Point BWT Mercedes 31
9 Haas Ferrari 26
10 Williams Mercedes 1

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