BUDAPEST • Lewis Hamilton will head into Formula One's month-long break hugely satisfied with his Hungarian Grand Prix win yesterday, after a controlled and dominant run during which his Mercedes team exploited his pole position advantage.
The 33-year-old rarely looked troubled as he cruised to his fifth victory of the season and extended his championship lead over Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel to 24 points.
The lead has changed hands six times between the two this season but this is the largest gap either has held in the 12 races thus far and puts the Briton in a strong position to claim a fifth world title.
"What a beautiful day - we deserve the holiday that's coming," said Hamilton, who has won this race a record six times.
He finished 17 seconds ahead of Vettel, who told his rival "it was too easy for you today" in the cool-down room.
The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix on Aug 26 and while Hamilton has the mid-term lead, he was not celebrating just yet.
HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 37min 16.427sec
2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +17.123sec
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +20.101
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull +46.419
5 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +1:00.000
6 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso +1:13.273
7 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas +1:13.273
8 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren +1:13.273
DID NOT FINISH
Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 5th lap
1 Hamilton 213 pts
2 Vettel 189
3 Raikkonen 146
4 Bottas 132
5 Ricciardo 118
1 Mercedes 345 pts
2 Ferrari 335
3 Red Bull 223
4 Renault 82
5 Haas 66
He said: "I'll be staying active in training and getting ready for the second half of the season. I'm really proud of the team, I hope they keep pushing when we come back."
The German, also a four-time world champion, snatched second spot by overtaking Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas with five laps to go. The Finn's car was damaged when Vettel passed and he took fifth spot.
Vettel said: "His (Bottas') tyres were getting worse and worse and I was quite confident I could get him. P2 was not what we wanted but is the best we could have done.
"I got hit from behind (by Bottas), I was not sure what had happened and I was lucky the car was not broken and we could carry on."
Kimi Raikkonen finished third, no mean feat given he had to complete the race, which took place in hot (33 deg C) and dry weather, with his drink bottle disconnected, meaning he was unable to take on any fluid.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff called it a bittersweet result: "It wasn't realistic for us to win, it is one of our weakest tracks. We expected damage limitation rather than taking the points. I'm really happy for Lewis.
"I just feel sad for Valtteri, he deserved P2 because he was such a sensational wing man."
Daniel Ricciardo put in another sterling performance and came through the field superbly to take fourth position after starting from 12th on the grid. He endured a bang of tyres with Marcus Ericsson on the opening lap, an incident that dropped him to 16th and also took a hit when passing Bottas on Lap 68.
His Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, however, was furious when forced to retire while in fifth place on Lap 6 with another Renault engine failure. The incident left Red Bull boss Christian Horner fuming as well.
He told Sky Sports F1 television: "We pay multi-millions of pounds for these engines and for a first class, or state-of-the-art, product and you can see it's quite clearly some way below that."
Red Bull are ditching Renault at the end of the season and switching to Honda from next year. Renault powered Red Bull to four straight drivers' and constructors' titles (2010-2013) but the relationship has frayed in the V6 turbo hybrid era.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE