Lewis Hamilton catches Max Verstappen and 'it never gets old'

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the Hungarian Grand Prix with his team. With Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas managing only eighth place, his lead has grown to a massive 62 points.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the Hungarian Grand Prix with his team. With Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas managing only eighth place, his lead has grown to a massive 62 points. PHOTO: REUTERS

BUDAPEST • Lewis Hamilton regained his momentum in the Formula One world championship after Mercedes made a superb strategy call allowing him to chase down pole-sitter Max Verstappen.

A change to fresher, softer tyres with 21 laps remaining gave Hamilton the task of closing a 20-second gap which he set about with relish. With the rubber on the Red Bull falling apart, he caught the Dutchman with room to spare and won by 17.796sec.

Hamilton's 81st career win leaves him in total command of the title race which he leads by 62 points from teammate Valtteri Bottas (188 points), who was a disappointing eighth having fallen from second.

"We've been together seven years and it never gets old," said Hamilton after his record seventh win in Hungary. "It always feels like a new win for us and, if it was not for these guys and the guys back at the factory, it wouldn't be possible.

"I was on the limit the whole way."

The 21-year-old Verstappen celebrated his first pole position on Saturday but could not convert that into a third win in four races.

  • HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX

  • RESULTS

    1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 35min03.796sec

    2 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +17.796sec

    3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +61.433sec

    4 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari +65.250sec

    5 Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) McLaren +1 lap

    6 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Red Bull +1 lap

    7 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo +1 lap

    8 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +1 lap

    9 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren +1 lap

    10 Alexander Albon (Tha) Toro Rosso +1 lap

    STANDINGS - DRIVERS

    1 Hamilton 250pts 2 Bottas 188

    3 Verstappen 181 4 Vettel 156

    5 Leclerc 132

    CONSTRUCTORS

    1 Mercedes 409pts 2 Ferrari 261

    3 Red Bull 217 4 McLaren70

    5 Toro Rosso 42.

He said: "We were just not fast enough. I tried everything I could on that hard tyre to stay alive. Still, second, fastest lap, a good weekend overall. Congrats to Lewis, he was pushing me really hard."

In stark contrast to the rain-induced drama of the German GP at Hockenheim the previous week, when the Dutchman triumphed with Hamilton way down in ninth, this battle was fought under sunny skies and a dry track in Budapest.

Bottas locked up into the first corner and damaged his front wing after being clipped by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. He pitted early for repairs and had a long fightback through the pack on hard tyres.

Separately, F1 teams have agreed to a record 22 races next year - but without increasing the number of engines allowed, said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff before the race.

Commercial rights holder Liberty Media had asked the 10 teams, who need to approve any increase beyond the current 21 races, to consider the proposal and team bosses met at the Hungaroring on Saturday to discuss it.

Wolff said: "We are up for it. We shouldn't change the technical regulations for an additional race, that was the debate we had.

"Equally we've got to protect our people, and all of us, because it could come to a point where it's not manageable any more with one single crew travelling to all races."

Next year could see the addition of Vietnam and the Netherlands, with Germany likely to drop off.

Mexico remains a doubt for funding reasons.

Spain and Italy have yet to sign contract extensions although local organisers and authorities have given the nod.

DPA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2019, with the headline 'Hamilton catches Max and 'it never gets old''. Print Edition | Subscribe