Hungarian GP: Lewis Hamilton hunts down Max Verstappen for win
Mercedes' two stops beat Red Bull's one as Hamilton charges back to deny Verstappen; Hamilton streaks clear in world championship on dismal day for Bottas, who ends up eighth
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 04/08/19 10:11pm
Lewis Hamilton overtook Max Verstappen to settle a gripping Hungarian GP duel as Mercedes aced their strategy to deny Red Bull victory.
Verstappen had led from pole for most of the race but Mercedes shifted Hamilton to a two-stop strategy with 22 laps to go and the world champion hunted down the Dutchman, wiping out a 20-second deficit before overtaking with four laps remaining.
It was Hamilton's eighth win of the year, record-extending seventh in Hungary, and increases his title lead to a massive 62 points over Valtteri Bottas. He is also now just 10 wins behind Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91.
"I feel tired, which is how it should be but I feel really grateful for the day and the team who continue to push me to the limits and take a chance on me," said a jubilant Hamilton. "We've been together for seven years, but every win feels brand new."
A disappointed but magnanimous Verstappen conceded: "We were just not fast enough, but I tried everything I could on those hard tyres to stay alive."
While a third win in four races just eluded the Dutchman, he has closed to within seven points of Valtteri Bottas in the standings - who endured another nightmare afternoon as doubts grow over his Mercedes future.
The Finn finished only eighth having dropped to last place after lap-one contact with Charles Leclerc broke his Mercedes' front wing and required an emergency pit stop. Bottas had started alongside Verstappen on the front row, but locked up into Turn One and was quickly overtaken by Hamilton before the brush with the Ferrari.
Leclerc had been on course for third but, in another significant late overake, he was passed by Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who finished very strongly on fresher tyres.
However, it was a chastening day for Ferrari, who finished a minute behind Hamilton having made no impression on the top two all afternoon. The SF90's low-corner weaknesses were brutally exposed.
Carlos Sainz finished a fine fifth for McLaren to continue his and their impressive run, beating the other Red Bull of Pierre Gasly, who was lapped by team-mate Verstappen.
Kimi Raikkonen was a strong seventh for Alfa Romeo, just ahead of the recovering Bottas, with the British-born pair of Lando Norris and Alexander Albon rounding out the points.
Hungarian GP: Top 10
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
6. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
8. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
9. Lando Norris, McLaren
10. Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso
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Hamilton vs Verstappen takes centre stage
Arguably the two most exciting drivers in Formula 1, the sport has been eagerly awaiting the first true race-long duel between F1's established star and its rising one - and Sunday's race delivered in spades.
Verstappen led the Mercedes' away from pole but fellow front-row starter Bottas was immediately in trouble, locking up into Turn One before being overtaken by Hamilton through Turn Three.
To make matters worse, the Finn then suffered front-wing damage when Leclerc's Ferrari sailed past and clipped the Mercedes. Bottas soon pitted for repairs and slipped down the field, with his afternoon quickly turned into one of recovery.
That left the stage clear for Hamilton to challenge Verstappen, although the Red Bull appeared to have the Mercedes covered in the first stint.
But Hamilton, who pitted six laps later than Verstappen at the first stops, wasted little time in chasing down the Red Bull in the second stint - and the pair went wheel-to-wheel for several laps. However, Verstappen successfully rebuffed the Silver Arrows' advances and a bold attempted overtake from Hamilton at Turn Four resulted in the Mercedes running wide and losing momentum.
But, on lap 40, Mercedes rolled the dice and pitted Hamilton again, this time for fresh medium tyres, to set up his absorbing late chase back up to the Red Bull.
"It was difficult to get by, the defence was great, and I didn't know if I could catch that 19-second gap," said Hamilton. "I just kept my head down, and each lap was like a qualifying lap.
"I know if Niki [Lauda] was here today, he would take his hat off."
Verstappen admitted: "We were just not fast enough, but I tried everything I could on those hard tyres to stay alive. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, but to finish second with the fastest lap, it was a good weekend overall."
Hungarian GP Race Result
|1. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:35.03.796|
|2. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+17.796|
|3. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+61.433|
|4. Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+65.250|
|5. Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+1 lap|
|6. Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||+1 lap|
|7. Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1 lap|
|8. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+1 lap|
|9. Lando Norris||McLaren||+1 lap|
|10. Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso||+1 lap|
|11. Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+1 lap|
|12. Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1 lap|
|13. Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+1 lap|
|14. Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+1 lap|
|15. Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+2 laps|
|16. George Russell||Williams||+2 laps|
|17. Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+2 laps|
|18. Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+2 laps|
|19. Robert Kubica||Williams||+3 laps|
|Did Not Finish|