Lewis Hamilton: Awesome to beat 'great' Max Verstappen in Hungary
"I feel really proud of myself today," says Hamilton after seeing off "strong competitor" Verstappen; Lewis calls battles "respectful"
By Matt Morlidge in Budapest
Last Updated: 05/08/19 6:43am
A delighted Lewis Hamilton said there is "no better feeling" than beating a "great driver" like Max Verstappen at the Hungarian GP, and hopes to have plenty more exciting wheel-to-wheel battles with the Dutchman.
Hamilton and Verstappen, Formula 1's standout performers in 2019, were locked in an epic duel throughout Sunday's captivating Budapest race, with the Red Bull driver keeping the five-time world champion at bay before Hamilton hunted down his younger rival on fresh tyres.
Hamilton twice ran wide off the track when looking to overtake Verstappen before his second pit-stop, but finally got ahead with four laps remaining as Mercedes' strategy proved to be a masterstroke.
It was an enthralling encounter, and Hamilton was elated with his victory ahead of a driver he clearly rates and values as a worthy opponent.
"Obviously there is really no better feeling from a racing drivers' point of view," Hamilton, who now holds a 62-point lead in the championship heading into the summer break, told reporters.
"When you have a race like today and you face a really strong competitor and a great driver like Max, who is obviously at his best and continuing to perform great, it's really comforting.
"It's awesome. I really am happy."
Hamilton added: "You want to be proud of yourself and I feel really proud of myself today, how I drove, because that's how I always want to drive, and how we delivered as a team.
"I'm 34 years old but I feel like I'm driving better than ever."
Hamilton wants more battles with 'respectful' Verstappen
F1 has been longing for more Hamilton-Verstappen battles, and the pair didn't disappoint at the Hungaroring.
And it wasn't just the excitement that Hamilton enjoyed, with the Englishman praising Verstappen for the "respectful" exchanges - also admitting that it may have been more "aggressive" if they were closer in the championship.
Hamilton is now 69 points clear of third-placed Verstappen in the standings.
"It's awesome to see firstly the respect level between us, it was really respectful driving out there," Hamilton said.
"As soon as I got into second I was like OK, this whole battle they've been talking about me and Max having, we're going to have that today.
"He put the car in some good places, I gave him space and more today but that's mainly from a mindset, if we were fighting on the same points it may have been a lot more aggressive.
"But there was no need for that today and it was really just making sure that when we do finally pull off an overtaking manoeuvre that was clean."
Hamilton also welcomed Red Bull's improvement, with the Honda-powered team winning two of the three incredible races before Hungary, and wants more tussles with Verstappen.
"All of a sudden we've had this big step up from Red Bull," Hamilton, whose Mercedes team won F1 2019's first eight races, added. "Now we've got a really good battle on our hands and it looks like it's here to stay.
"Red Bull have been doing great, it's awesome to see and I hope their performance continues. I really, really hope we have more battles like we had today."