Lewis Hamilton has won the FORMULA 1 ROLEX MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2019. The five-time world champion sealed victory after a duel with pole man Max Verstappen that lasted almost the entire race. But the Dutchman can still walk away with his head held high after giving everything to repeat his triumph of a week ago at Hockenheim.
Of all Hamilton’s 81 race wins, this one will certainly rank very highly for the manner in which it was won. After the world champion constructors saw first-hand that any overtaking attempt on Verstappen could end up costing it dear – as illustrated by the off-track moment during the wheel-to-wheel duel on lap 39 – it opted for a change of strategy, calling Lewis into the pits for a new set of Medium tyres. The Englishman was thus freed from following directly behind Verstappen, and when Red Bull didn’t follow suit immediately their driver was left hoping that his set of Hard tyres would last all the way to the flag.
The strategic decision by Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport was definitely helped by the data acquired in the long run Bottas put in on hard tyres but, above all, by the mastery of Lewis. He was able to string together an impressive series of fastest laps that brought him back into Verstappen’s slipstream a few laps before the finish, before he forced his way past. It was therefore a deserved visit to the podium for Brackley’s race strategist James Vowles – and it was with good reason that he was copiously soaked in champagne by his delighted driver!
For the 92,000 spectators crowding into the grandstands today (230,000 in total over the weekend) it was a thrilling spectacle from the first lap to the last, despite the vast disparity between the two contenders for victory and the rest of the field. There was a huge gap to the two Ferraris, with Vettel taking third place over a minute later after seeing off his team-mate Leclerc in the closing laps. All the other 15 pilots who saw the chequered flag (only Grosjean was forced to retire) were lapped at least once.
McLaren were among the day’s main players, putting both their drivers into the top ten with Sainz taking fifth place ahead of Gasly’s Red Bull and Norris ninth, not far behind Bottas. There were also strong performances from Kimi Raikkonen, seventh, and Alexander Albon who secured the final place in the top ten.
Max Verstappen started brilliantly, blistering off the starting line in his Red Bull to cover the menacing threat from those behind. The Dutchman held the inside line and forced both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to try and take the long way around Turn 1. Things got very tight indeed between the two Mercedes drivers after Bottas locked-up, Hamilton cutting across his teammate’s front wing to grab second place as the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel waited to pounce from fourth and fifth position.
Leclerc did not have to wait long at all, just two corners in fact, before he forced his way past the Finn in Turn 4. There was contact between them, damaging Bottas’ front wing, and the Mercedes driver was forced to drop back and head into the pits for a replacement, coming back out in last place.
The pace at the front was relentless with three distinct battles beginning to take shape by lap 12. With Verstappen out in front, and Hamilton chasing hard behind, the front pair were 30 seconds clear of Carlos Sainz’s McLaren in fifth. Between the leaders and the rest of the field, Leclerc and Vettel had no one but each other to fight for third place with the prancing horses well off the pace.
Further back, Daniel Ricciardo had methodically worked his way through the field from the back of the grid to move up to 14th, ahead of the Williams of George Russell, but the young Briton could not hold off the advancing Bottas for long before giving way. Lap 20 saw the two Toro Rossos duelling hard as Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon fought wheel-to-wheel for 11th before Albon was forced wide.
Verstappen’s lead was just 1.3 seconds as the Dutchman complained to his team about a lack of grip. Hamilton meanwhile radioed in to report that his own tyres were performing better than expected. The mind games were taken to another level on lap 22 as the Mercedes mechanics sprinted from the garage to welcome Hamilton for his first stop, only for the championship leader to race straight past the pit lane entry after a very late change of mind. The Red Bull pit wall remained motionless and Verstappen switched to hard rubber when he pitted three laps later, coming back out ahead of the two Ferraris. Leclerc then switched to the hard compound in his stop on lap 28, dropping to fourth behind his teammate but well clear of fifth-placed Sainz.
Lando Norris suffered a slow rear tyre change during his stop for fresh boots, and tumbled outside of the points places to 11th as Verstappen inherited the lead when Hamilton made his first stop of the afternoon from the lead. The Dutchman retook the lead by six seconds before the Mercedes man almost instantly slashed that gap to just two.
Hamilton continued to push, pressuring Verstappen as the pair weaved through traffic. It looked almost certain that the Silver Arrow would pass the Honda-powered Red Bull machine, the gap down to less than half a second by lap 39, but the Englishman ran wide and was forced to regroup for another charge. Further back, Bottas continued to scythe his way through the field, moving up into ninth with Ricciardo also in the points in tenth place.
Out in front, the duel continued with Verstappen defending hard to try and maintain a gap and hold position as Hamilton attacked before somewhat surprisingly diving into the pits for fresh mediums on lap 49. The championship leader questioned the decision over the radio before being assured that he had the pace and the Dutchman was on older, harder tyres. For his part, Verstappen asked his pit wall why he hadn’t been brought in, only to be told he would have come out behind the Englishman.
The gamble in strategy paid off. Hamilton started setting fastest lap after fastest lap, and for the next 17 circuits of the Hungaroring the championship leader showed his quality, taking chunks out of Verstappen’s lead as the Dutchman battled for survival on worn rubber. With three laps to go, the Red Bull racer was powerless to prevent Hamilton from passing him and could only watch on as the Englishman took the lead in Turn 1.
Verstappen boxed for fresh softs in a bid to set the fastest lap, and promptly did so, firing in a 1.17.103. Also on the soft option, Vettel past Leclerc with fresher tyres on the penultimate lap to grab third place in the closing stages. Hamilton’s phenomenal drive secured the 81st win of his career, Verstappen finishing second for his fifth podium finish of the season with Vettel over a minute behind the leader to grab third. Fourth-placed Leclerc might well feel frustrated for surrendering the final podium place to his teammate. Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen, Bottas, Norris and Albon round out the rest of the point scoring places.
The 2019 FIA Formula 1 World Championship now begins its summer break with Lewis Hamilton ever more dominant: the Mercedes driver has a 62-point lead over his team-mate Bottas, who is now being hounded by Verstappen, just seven points further back. In the Constructors’ Championship the Anglo-German team has a 150-point advantage over Scuderia Ferrari (438 to 288) with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing third on 244. The battle for fourth place also seems to have a clear favourite in McLaren (82 points) which has almost twice the total of its nearest challenger, Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda (43) with Renault in sixth (39).
The next date for Formula 1 and its two feeder series is scheduled for August 30 to September 1 at one of the most famous andfascinating tracks in the world at Spa-Francorchamps, which will host the FORMULA 1 JOHNNIE WALKER BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 2019.
FROM THE DRIVERS
"We've been together for seven years, but this feeling never gets old. If it wasn't for everyone here and back at the factory, this wouldn't have been possible. I'm so grateful to be a part of it and for the team for continuing to believe in me, push the limits and take a risk. We struggled a little with the brakes today, so I was trying to save as much as I could for when I had a chance to pass Max. It was very, very difficult to get by. I wasn't sure if I could close the 19-second gap, but the team said to just get your head down, so I did. I kept pushing, the gap closed and the laps were like qualifying laps. I was on the limit all the way. I take my hat off to the team and I think if Niki were here today, he would take his hat off too."
"That was a tough day and not what I expected. Far from it. The first lap was a bit messy, I had a lock-up at Turn 1 which was my mistake. I was trying to brake as late and as hard as I could, but I locked the front-right and picked up a flat-spot. That caused a bit of understeer and then obviously I had the contact with Charles, which broke the front wing. We had to stop early as a result and that really compromised my race, as I came out in traffic and lost a lot of time. I tried everything I could, but it was really tough to overtake. At least I got some points but we'll analyse what happened and learn from it."
“We gave it our all but Lewis was clearly a bit faster than us today. It was nice to see that we had such a big gap to the others though and second is still a good result. It wasn’t our day in terms of pace but overall it was a good weekend and getting pole position was a great step. Of course, when you start at the front you want to win but you also have to be realistic and to finish second with the fastest lap was the most that we could do. I tried to keep Lewis behind when we were on the same tyres but because of the gap to third, he had the option to do a second stop which worked out for him. "I was trying to survive out front and push on my tyres but when he was closing in by one or two seconds per lap there wasn’t much I could do. He closed so quickly on the fresh tyres that I wasn’t surprised he managed to get past. We then pitted to get the fastest lap, which is one extra point, and I’m of course happy to get that. No regrets and we tried everything we could. It was a good weekend for us and I go into the break with a good feeling as we’re getting closer all the time.”
“It was a difficult race right from the beginning. We had a poor start which didn’t make life easy, and after that I just tried to attack as much as I could but I was sliding everywhere and struggling with grip. I was in a bit of a sandwich in Turn 1, then I was quite close with Kimi in Turn 2 so I lost a lot of time at the start which didn’t help my race. "The weekend started pretty well and Friday was good, we were happy with FP1 and FP2, but from Saturday I have just struggled for grip. We finished the race P6 and scored some points but for sure it was not the amount we wanted. It’s good for everyone to have a break now and switch off. I will relax and review the first half of the season, I will look at what went well and what could have been better so I come back sharper and stronger for the second half and make sure we score more points.”
“We leave Hungary and for a few weeks we can console ourselves with the fact that we made it to the podium in a race in which we knew we were going to struggle. Today, we simply could not match the pace of our rivals. In terms of strategy, the idea was to come up with something different to try and do better than fourth. I managed to extend the first stint to 39 laps and that allowed me to fit softs and have a stronger pace than Charles in the closing stages. Now we can recharge our batteries and prepare to battle once more in Spa and Monza, tracks where we ought to be more competitive. We know there is still some performance to come from the SF90 and we have to work on that, but I am convinced that there is a margin to get better results.”
“Arriving in Hungary we knew it would be a tough race for us, and it was. The beginning of the first stint wasn’t bad, but as the race progressed, I started to struggle with my rear tyres more and more and could not match the pace of our competitors. My target now is to understand how to improve this, especially over long runs and on circuits where the degradation is high. I look forward to returning to racing after the break so that we can continue working on making further improvements and give our competitors a good challenge.”
“It was always going to be tough starting at the back of the grid, but there were some positive moments. We made the Hard tyres last well and then had good pace on the Soft tyre towards the end. It was frustrating not to get past Magnussen. I felt he was moving under braking, and I couldn’t do anything. I wasn’t happy about that as we could have progressed even further at the end. There are some positives and the summer break will be good for us. We’ll reset, take some time off, we know we’re in it together and we’ll be targeting a better second-half of the season.”
Hungarian Grand Prix Final Classification
1st Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 70 1:35.03.796
2nd Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 70 +17.796
3rd Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari 70 +61.433
4th Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari 70 +65.250
5th Carlos Sainz McLaren F1 Team 69 +1 lap
6th Pierre Gasly Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 69 +1 lap
7th Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 69 +1 lap
8th Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 69 +1 lap
9th Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 69 +1 lap
10th Alexander Albon Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 69 +1 lap
11th Sergio Perez SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team 69 +1 lap
12th Nico Hulkenberg Renault F1 Team 69 +1 lap
13th Kevin Magnussen Rich Energy Haas F1 Team 69 +1 lap
14th Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team 69 +1 lap
15th Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 68 +2 laps
16th George Russell ROKiT Williams Racing 68 +2 laps
17th Lance Stroll SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team 68 +2 laps
18th Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 68 +2 laps
19th Robert Kubica ROKiT Williams Racing 67 +3 laps
NC Romain Grosjean Rich Energy Haas F1 Team 49
Fastest lap: Max Verstappen (1..17.103 on lap 69)
1 L. Hamilton 250
2 V. Bottas 188
3 M. Verstappen 181
4. S.Vettel 156
5 C. Leclerc 132
6 P. Gasly 63
7 C. Sainz 58
8 K. Raikkonen 32
9.D. Kvyat 31
Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 438
Scuderia Ferrari 288
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 244
McLaren F1 Team 82
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 43
Renault F1 Team 39
Alfa Romeo Racing 32
SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team 31
Rich Energy Haas F1 Team 26
ROKiT Williams Racing 1