BUDAPEST (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - Max Verstappen yesterday produced a calculated and blemish-free performance to win the Hungarian Grand Prix from 10th on the grid to tighten his grip on the Formula One world championship.
Red Bull’s reigning world champion registered his eighth win of the season and 28th of his career ahead of the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and pole-sitter George Russell.
With Charles Leclerc hampered by another bout of questionable pit-lane strategy to come in sixth, Verstappen extended his lead over the Ferrari driver to a commanding 80 points going into the motor sport’s traditional month-long summer break.
“What a race. We stayed calm and we won it,” said the elated Dutchman after winning at the Hungaroring for the first time in six attempts despite spinning on the track.
“I was of course hoping I would get close to the podium, but it was very tricky conditions out there but we had a really good strategy, we were really reactive, always pitting at the right time.
“We had some good outlaps but even with the 360 (spin), we still won the race. I was struggling with the shifts and the clutch, and we had to change a few things around to not burn the clutch and that cost a bit of performance and so that caught me out a bit on that corner.
“I was battling a lot of guys and it was a lot of fun out there. It was a crazy race but of course very happy we won it.”
Russell will have been disappointed not to notch his first F1 win from pole, but it was still another good result for Mercedes, who, after their early-season struggles, had their second successive double-podium finish.
He said: “Again, an amazing job by the team in pole position yesterday, double podium, we are definitely making progress so really proud of the work everyone has done. I’m sure there’s a lot I will look over and I could have done better.”
“Great work guys, what a result for the team. So happy for you all, so grateful for you all. This is super positive,” added Hamilton, who is still chasing his first win of the season.
For Ferrari, it was another case of what might have been, starting second and third on the grid but finishing only fourth for Carlos Sainz and with Monaco’s Leclerc two places behind.
Spaniard Sainz could be heard on the team radio lamenting this was a “tough one, a really tough one”, while the team’s twitter account was equally despondent, saying this was “not the race we wanted” with a sad face emoji.
The season returns for the Belgian Grand Prix on Aug 28 with Verstappen in pole position to win back-to-back world titles.