Mercedes strategy helps Hamilton overhaul Verstappen for Hungary win

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

Mercedes strategy helps Hamilton overhaul Verstappen for Hungary win

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 of 70, when Hamilton used DRS to attack on the outside into the first corner and Verstappen's "dead" tyres left him powerless in defence on the inside.

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 he made light side-by-side contact with Mercedes team-mate Hamilton, who was further to the outside of the left-hander.

Bottas then had 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 as they made slight contact and letting Charles Leclerc nip ahead in his Ferrari.

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

At the front, Verstapen quickly established a two-second advantage but Hamilton fought back and was almost inside DRS range when Verstappen - complaining about losing grip - pitted 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 Daniel 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.

But Mercedes then 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 for his own fresh tyres and he went on to comfortably set the fastest lap.

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

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

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

Carlos Sainz Jr took advantage of Bottas's strife and a bad start for Pierre Gasly to steal fifth for McLaren, also jumping his team-mate 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 five-six result for McLaren but a problem with the left-rear meant a slow pitstop and that 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 at one point predicting he could make it back to sixth.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon caught and passed team-mate 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.

Race result

Pos Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 70 1h35m03.796s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 70 17.796s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 70 1m01.433s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 70 1m05.250s
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 69 1 Lap
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 69 1 Lap
7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 69 1 Lap
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 69 1 Lap
9 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 69 1 Lap
10 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 69 1 Lap
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 69 1 Lap
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 69 1 Lap
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 69 1 Lap
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 69 1 Lap
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 68 2 Laps
16 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 68 2 Laps
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 68 2 Laps
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 68 2 Laps
19 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 67 3 Laps
- Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 49 Water leak

Drivers' championship

Pos Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 250
2 Valtteri Bottas 188
3 Max Verstappen 181
4 Sebastian Vettel 156
5 Charles Leclerc 132
6 Pierre Gasly 63
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. 58
8 Kimi Raikkonen 31
9 Daniil Kvyat 27
10 Lando Norris 24
11 Daniel Ricciardo 22
12 Lance Stroll 18
13 Kevin Magnussen 18
14 Nico Hulkenberg 17
15 Alexander Albon 16
16 Sergio Perez 13
17 Romain Grosjean 8
18 Antonio Giovinazzi 1
19 Robert Kubica 1
20 George Russell 0

Constructors' championship

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 438
2 Ferrari 288
3 Red Bull/Honda 244
4 McLaren/Renault 82
5 Toro Rosso/Honda 43
6 Renault 39
7 Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 32
8 Racing Point/Mercedes 31
9 Haas/Ferrari 26
10 Williams/Mercedes 1


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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Jos Verstappen , Max Verstappen
Teams Mercedes
Author Scott Mitchell
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