Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen to claim Hungarian GP title

Published: Aug 05, 2019, 07:28 IST | Abhishek Takle

The five-time world champion, who unleashed a devastating turn of speed hunting Verstappen down on fresher tyres after being switched on to a two-stop strategy by Mercedes, crossed the line 17 seconds clear of the Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen to claim Hungarian GP title
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is ecstatic after winning the Hungarian GP yesterday. Pic/AFP

Budapest: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton stormed to a record-extending seventh win in yesterday's Hungarian Grand Prix after seizing the lead from Red Bull rival Max Verstappen just four laps from the finish.

The five-time world champion, who unleashed a devastating turn of speed hunting Verstappen down on fresher tyres after being switched on to a two-stop strategy by Mercedes, crossed the line 17 seconds clear of the Red Bull.

Sebastian Vettel made a late pass of his own on team-mate Charles Leclerc to finish third. But the Ferrari pair crossed the line over a minute behind their race-winning Mercedes rival.

"Wow! Just wow, mate. Only you can make that happen," said Hamilton's race engineer over the radio on the cool down lap.

"That was an incredible drive."

"That was definitely a tall order, grateful we did it," responded Hamilton, before embracing Mercedes' strategy chief James Vowels in parc ferme.

"It feels like a new win for us," Hamilton later said.

"We'd had brake problems all weekend for us, and I was doing a lot of lift and coast for half the lap, to try and save them.

"I didn't know if I could cut that 19-second gap," he added, referring to the ground he had to make up on Verstappen after emerging from his second stop.

Yesterday's win was the 81st win of Hamilton's career and his eighth this season.

It moves him 62 points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the top of the overall standings and puts him just 10 wins short of Michael Schumacher's all-time record haul of 91 victories.

It also marks a return to form for the Briton and his team after a nightmare race in Germany last Sunday.

Hamilton had started third on the grid, behind the pole-sitting Verstappen and team-mate Bottas.

He wrestled second place from the Finn on the opening lap after briefly making contact with the other Mercedes and slotted in behind Verstappen.

The Dutchman kept the lead through the first stops but Hamilton quicker on the hard tyres soon closed in.

The pair went wheel-to-wheel at one stage until Hamilton, clearly faster, was forced to drop back due to overheating brakes.

The decisive moment came on lap 48 of 70 when Mercedes rolled the dice and brought Hamilton in and fitted him with the more grippy medium tyre.

With a gap of nearly 20 seconds to make up in just 22 laps, the gamble looked like it wouldn't pay off with even Hamilton questioning the call. But then Hamilton began reeling off record lap after record lap to force the race his way.

"We were just not fast enough," said Verstappen, who also pitted a second time after Hamilton passed him and bagged the single point on offer for the fastest lap of the race.

"I tried everything I could on the hard tyre to stay alive, but couldn't.

"Today we didn't win, but it was a good day and a good weekend for us," added Verstappen, who took his second win from three races last Sunday in Hockenheim and goes into Formula One's summer break just seven points behind second-placed Bottas in the standings.

Carlos Sainz was fifth for McLaren one lap down on the leaders ahead of Verstappen's team-mate Pierre Gasly.

Kimi Raikkonen was seventh ahead of Bottas who was eighth. The Finn had dropped to the back of the field after being forced to pit early for a new front wing having suffered damage in the contact with Hamilton and then Ferrari's Leclerc.

Lando Norris in the other McLaren was ninth ahead of Alexander Albon who rounded out the top-ten for Toro Rosso.

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