Lewis Hamilton won his eighth Hungarian Grand Prix yesterday, having qualified on pole ahead of his teammate to secure the 86th Formula 1 Grand Prix win of his career, and in so doing, tying with Michael Schumacher’s record for the most number of wins at a single venue and putting himself within five of Schumacher’s record of 91 victories.
Hamilton commented after his victory: “What an incredible race. Honestly, that was one of my favourites that I’ve raced, even though I was on my own for the majority, it’s a very different kind of challenge and I was pushing hard out there – particularly for the fastest lap at the end. I want to say a huge congratulations to everyone back home at the factory in Brackley and at HPP in Brixworth, they’ve done such a fantastic job developing and improving for this year and this team just continues to amaze me. I love working with them and I’m grateful to be able to perform for them on weekends like this. We had great pace today, brilliant pit stops, a fantastic strategy and then, as I was managing those Mediums for a long, long time, at the end it was the perfect time to get on fresh tyres and take that extra point for fastest lap. Everything has just been on point throughout the weekend, so we need to try and keep it up. I can’t wait for Silverstone now, although I’ll miss the energy the fans bring, so I hope I can perform for them there as I know they’ll be watching from home.”
At the start of the race, it did not take Hamilton long to eek out a comfortable lead, which he would hold to the end, crossing the finish line 8.7 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen who overcame a poor qualifying, starting from P7 and an embarrassing crash into the Turn 12 wall on his out lap to the grid that required last-minute repairs. Luckily for him, he managed to not incur any penalties as a result. Verstappen managed to hold off a late attack by third place Valtteri Bottas in the closing laps of the race.
Lance Stroll was unable to convert his impressive P3 qualifying into a podium finish, crossing the line well behind the top three in a still commendable fourth, scoring valuable points for Racing Point. Alex Albon managed a late pass on Sebastian Vettel to take an impressive fifth, having qualified down in 13th. That was despite Red Bull being summoned to the stewards after the race for allegedly drying Albon’s grid spot ahead of the start.
For his part, Vettel managed to hold off Sergio Perez in the second Racing Point in the final few laps of the race, with the Mexican finishing seventh, having started fourth, while Daniel Ricciardo made an extraordinary long 42-lap stint on his mediums to take eighth in his Renault.
The two Haas cars enjoyed a much better race here in Hungary, thanks in part to an inspired strategy from the team to help Kevin Magnussen take the team’s first point of the year, finishing in ninth, but subsequently demoted a place to tenth, when both Haas drivers incurred a 10-second time penalty after the Hungarian Grand Prix had finished, as the team were found to have aided both Magnussen and Grosjean over the radio on the formation lap, which is a breach of the sporting regulations. Grosjean therefore slips from P15 to P16 with Kimi Raikkonen moving ahead of him and Carlos Sainz is promoted to ninth.
Magnussen said after the race: “I’m so happy. The team made an amazing call before the beginning of the race – on the formation lap, to call for the slicks. It was really strong for them to give me that trust, to put me out on dry tyres and in conditions that weren’t easy. It was pretty risky, but it worked out. The pace was there and having started from the pit lane, after a few laps I was in P3. I knew that wouldn’t be our final placing, but it was amazing to be up there in the race. I just tried to hang on to it as much as I could. I kept working with the team regarding where realistically we were going to be. In the end it was P9 – I held on to it and we had opened the gap to a Ferrari and then kept the McLaren away as well. It shows what a good car we had in the race. It’s proved that the team has done an amazing job even though we’ve been struggling a little bit in qualifying.”
Charles Leclerc finished in a lowly 11th as the Hungarian Grand Prix turned out to be much harder than expected for Ferrari, with both cars lacking pace during the race. Sebastian Vettel said afterwards that: “This was a better performance compared to my first race in Austria. However, in the early stages we might have done a bit better if I’d taken more of a gamble and come in for dry tyres on lap 3 instead of 4. As it was, I lost a lot of time, having to let other cars come down pit lane before I could be released. But in the end, fifth or sixth was the most we could have done.
Towards the end, I was struggling with the tyres and even if I would have loved to have put up more of a fight, there wasn’t much I could do to keep Alex (Albon) behind me. We are not where we want to be just now, but at least we did everything we could today.”
So the top ten finishers are: Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas, Lance Stroll in fourth, Alexander Albon, Sebastian Vettel in sixth, Sergio Perez in the second Racing Point in seventh, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz bumped up to ninth and Kevin Magnussen demoted to tenth, taking the final and first point of the season for Haas with Charles Leclerc finishing just outside of the points.
Losing the bonus point for fastest lap to Hamilton added to Bottas’ dejection after a “bad race” to quote him, as Hamilton now takes over the lead of the Drivers’ Championship for the first time this season.
With the late start to the season and marathon triple header races in the bag, there is a two week break before the teams head over to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix on the weekend of July 31 to August 2, which is then followed a week later by the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix again at Silverstone.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Scuderia Ferrari Press Office and Haas F1 Team
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