In great race Verstappen wins
Max Verstappen bounced back from a spin and his worst starting position of the season (10th) to win the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday to increase his gap over Charles Leclerc in the Formula One title hunt.
The eighth victory of the season for the reigning world champion allowed him to widen his lead over Leclerc to 80 points at the start of the summer break.
Although the gap is wider, Verstappen is wary.
“Of course it’s a very good advantage,” said the Dutch Red Bull driver. “But if you’re fighting for championships, you can’t make mistakes.”
Mercedes managed to get its two single-seaters to the podium for the second race in a row. Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton finished second after starting seventh. His teammate George Russell, who took pole, came in third.
Carlos Sainz Jr. was fourth in another disastrous day for Ferrari in terms of strategy management. Leclerc was sixth, one place behind the Red Bull of Mexican Sergio Pérez.
Verstappen has 28 wins in his career.
“Who would have imagined waking up today thinking about this kind of result?” Verstappen said over the team radio, bursting out laughing. “It was a crazy race, but we knew how to stay calm and we won.”
Verstappen qualified 10th due to a power issue on Saturday, and then spun 360 degrees in the race on Sunday.
“Incredible Max, the best thing you’ve ever done,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “Fantastic!”.
Russell, on pole for the first time in his career, led for 30 laps until Leclerc overtook him on the outside when a light rain soaked the Hungaroring circuit.
With Leclerc in front, Verstappen switched to faster tyres. Ferrari opted for hard compounds for Leclerc on his second refueling.
“These tires are an (obscenity),” Leclerc said.
He later acknowledged that a mistake was made.
“I made it clear that I wanted to stick with (a medium compound) as much as possible, but we were in a hurry to put in the hard ones, and it’s something we need to understand why. I think that change made the difference,” Leclerc said. “Before we think about the championship, to be honest, as a team we need to think about how to do things better. Otherwise, it will be more difficult.”
Moments later, Verstappen lost control on the track, allowing Sainz to pass Hamilton. Leclerc moved past Verstappen but soon lost position as Verstappen had faster tyres.
“It was very treacherous conditions, but we had the right strategy,” said Verstappen. “We knew how to react, we always entered the pits at the right time. We have won despite the 360”.
Referring to the spin, Verstappen explained: “I wanted to go full throttle and lost control at the rear completely, I was surprised.”
Ferrari said goodbye lamenting his strategic mistakes. Leclerc let a couple of victories slip away at Monaco and Silverstone, precisely because of team decisions.
“Something always happens, reliability issues, mistakes,” said Leclerc.
Ferrari’s strategy confused Verstappen.
“I think Ferrari used the wrong tires and they had to go back to the pits,” Verstappen said. “The Ferraris were very fast, but they made the wrong decision on the hard tires (for Leclerc).”
Lando Norris finished seventh with McLaren, followed by the Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) entered tenth.
After a month without activity, the season will resume with a triple set in Belgium, Holland and Italy.