Hamilton wins his 7th Hungarian GP as he chases down Verstappen
Hamilton wins his 7th Hungarian GP as he chases down Verstappen
05 August, 2019, 05:53
Seven days after leaving Germany with a sore throat after his worst performance for the team, the championship leader bounced back to his best. On Lap 40, Hamilton nearly got past - first on the inside, then on the outside - but the Dutchman kept his cool as Hamilton veered slightly off track on the second attack. "I know if (late Mercedes non-executive chairman and triple champion) Niki (Lauda) was here today, he would take his hat off". With four laps remaining, he had closed down a near 20-second gap and passed the Red Bull to seize the win.
Then the team made a key strategic decision.
The Finn had lost out to teammate Lewis Hamilton at Turn 3 in a move that allowed Leclerc a run on him up toward Turn 4, and the Ferrari's left-rear wheel then hit the front wing of the Mercedes, damaging it. Bottas was forced to pit after just five laps to replace his wing and from there had to fight back on a two-stop strategy, eventually recovering to eighth place, but he was unhappy at both his teammate and Leclerc for the opening lap.
Hamilton, who also triumphed in Hungary past year and is heading inexorably towards a sixth title, now has 250 points, with team mate Valtteri Bottas on 188 and Verstappen closing in fast on 181.
"I was actually doing a lot of coasting and not touching the brake for half the lap".
"It is clear that I have to be more ahead during qualifying, but I was very happy with the auto during FP1 and 2".
"It was hard to get by, the defence was great, and I didn't know if I could catch that 19-second gap", said the Briton of a battle with Verstappen that ebbed and flowed throughout the race. Their defence was great.
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"Wow, just wow, mate", said Hamilton's engineer, Pete Bonnington. Hamilton asked his team on radio.
A week on from their rain-swept and desultory exit from a near-disastrous German Grand Prix, they had clearly responded with a smart strategy, slick tactics and pitstops.
"He'd be a good teammate for you", Hamilton responded.
"We were just not fast enough, but I tried everything I could on those hard tyres to stay alive", he said. If he can get a good seat he is always welcome to battle with us.
"[We were] just lacking a bit of grip, I guess, and we tried a one stop, then they had the opportunity to do the two and it paid off".
In a tweet, the double world champion expressed his enjoyment at the battle between the Briton and Max Verstappen for victory in Budapest.
"Bravo", he said. "Both impressive -- thanks for the show". "Congrats to Lewis, he was pushing me really hard". I like that and it's still a good weekend for us.
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