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Hungarian GP: Hamilton defeats Verstappen in tense duel

Hungarian GP: Hamilton defeats Verstappen in tense duel

Lewis Hamilton stole victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix with four laps left after a strategy switch from his Mercedes Formula 1 team defeated long-time race leader Max Verstappen.

Hamilton swapped to a two-stop strategy in a bid to use fresh tyres to mount a late attack on Red Bull driver Verstappen.

Verstappen held on until the start of lap 67, when Hamilton used DRS to attack on the outside into the first corner and Verstappen's "dead" tyres left him powerless in defence.

A switch to soft tyres for the final three laps allowed Verstappen to at least score a bonus point for fastest lap, as Ferrari's lead driver Sebastian Vettel completed the podium – more than a minute behind Hamilton.

Verstappen held onto the lead at the start as fellow front-row man Valtteri Bottas locked up attacking on the outside and made light side-by-side contact with Mercedes teammate Hamilton.

Bottas tried to defend from Hamilton into Turn 2 but locked up again, allowing Hamilton to cut back and sweep by around the outside into Turn 3 – compromising Bottas and letting Charles Leclerc nip ahead in his Ferrari.

Leclerc made contact with Bottas in the process and the Mercedes driver's front wing was broken, which proved too problematic to continue with beyond lap five, triggering an early pitstop and wrecking Bottas's race.

At the front, Verstappen quickly established a two-second advantage but Hamilton fought back and was almost inside DRS range when Verstappen – complaining of losing grip – pit on lap 25.

Mercedes opted to extend Hamilton's stint six laps beyond Verstappen's, which dropped him 5.8s behind when he rejoined but Hamilton's pace on fresh tyres rapidly eliminated the gap.

He had DRS to attack Verstappen within five laps of rejoining, causing Verstappen to defend slightly into Turn 1 just as the race ticked past mid-distance.

Hamilton then took to the outside at Turn 2 but ran wide, slightly onto the run-off, which allowed Verstappen breathing space.

A much more aggressive Hamilton attack followed as they ran side-by-side into Turn 1 lapping Ricciardo, with Hamilton moving to the again outside for Turn 2.

Hamilton attempted to pass Verstappen on the outside of the fast Turn 4 left-hander but had to abort the move and take to the run-off.

Verstappen requested more engine power in his bid to keep Hamilton out of DRS range but Hamilton was also suffering with brake wear, meaning another attack was not forthcoming.

Mercedes rolled the dice by stopping Hamilton again on lap 48, a move Red Bull opted not to cover – giving Hamilton 20 laps to attack a 20-second gap to Verstappen on fresh tyres.

With six laps to go, and Hamilton just 5.5s behind, Verstappen reported his tyres were "dead", and two laps later Hamilton was within DRS range.

He breezed by on the outside into the first corner with superior grip and braking performance, and with Verstappen unable to finish the race on his wrecked rubber the Red Bull dived into the pits.

Leclerc looked set to complete the podium after an anonymous race from Ferrari, which faded from the lead battle swiftly and never looked like recovering.

However, Vettel switched to "Plan C", which meant a long final stint on softs and a tall task up the time he lost to Leclerc by extending his first stint.

With just under three laps left Vettel caught and dived inside Leclerc at Turn 1 with an aggressive move to wrest the final podium place.

Carlos Sainz took advantage of Bottas's strife and a bad start for Pierre Gasly to steal fifth for McLaren, having also jumped his teammate Lando Norris on the opening lap.

Sainz ran in that position throughout the grand prix and then withstood pressure from Gasly in the other Red Bull to finish fifth for the second race in a row.

Norris could have completed a 5-6 result for the British team but a problem with the left-rear meant a slow pitstop and dropped him behind Gasly and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.

He was too far behind to catch or pressure Raikkonen, who matched his best result of the season with seventh.

Bottas's recovery was limited to eighth place, passing Norris late on, despite Mercedes predicting he could make it back to sixth.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon caught and passed teammate Daniil Kvyat and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez in the final third of the grand prix to complete the top 10 and bag another point.

Romain Grosjean was the race's only retirement.

The Haas driver ran inside the top 10 early on but slipped back after a long first stint did not pay off, and his car was wheeled into the garage with a water pressure problem with more than 20 laps remaining.

Cla Driver Chassis Time
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes 1:35'03.796
2 Netherlands Max Verstappen
Red Bull 1:35'21.592
3 Germany Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari 1:36'05.229
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc
Ferrari 1:36'09.046
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
McLaren 1 lap
6 France Pierre Gasly
Red Bull 1 lap
7 Finland Kimi Raikkonen
Alfa Romeo 1 lap
8 Finland Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes 1 lap
9 United Kingdom Lando Norris
McLaren 1 lap
10 Thailand Alex Albon
Toro Rosso 1 lap
11 Mexico Sergio Perez
Racing Point 1 lap
12 Germany Nico Hulkenberg
Renault 1 lap
13 Denmark Kevin Magnussen
Haas 1 lap
14 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
Renault 1 lap
15 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat
Toro Rosso 2 laps
16 United Kingdom George Russell
Williams 2 laps
17 Canada Lance Stroll
Racing Point 2 laps
18 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo 2 laps
19 Poland Robert Kubica
Williams 3 laps
France Romain Grosjean
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Hungarian GP
Author Scott Mitchell