BUDAPEST – Lewis Hamilton has taken the Formula One World Championship lead from Nico Rosberg after a victory on Sunday during the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring.
Hamilton got the jump on polesitter and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the start, and from there only lost the lead during pit stops. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was able to push the Silver Arrow duo in the early stages, but that challenge faded and Ricciardo came home 25 seconds off the lead, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel right on his tail.
In the second Red Bull-Ferrari battle, Max Verstappen held on to win a tense and lengthy scrap for fifth with Kimi Raikkonen, while Fernando Alonso took a distant seventh for McLaren. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr., Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10 to take the remaining points.
Hamilton may have been up front, but the nip-and-tuck flow as the two Silver Arrows cut through lapped traffic ensured that Hamilton was never able to relax. There were times when Rosberg was able to get close to Hamilton, but never close enough to seriously challenge Hamilton.
The closest Rosberg got was on lap 52 when the gap came down to .6 of a second after Hamilton was blocked by backmarker Esteban Gutierrez, and again when Hamilton locked up and momentarily ran wide at turn 12 on the 62nd lap, but thereafter he regained his momentum and went unchallenged the rest of the way.
“I don’t know what the secret is here. Naturally, having a great team and everything coming together is key. But it’s a track that I think really works well for an aggressive driver,” Hamilton said. “Today was one of the hottest races I can remember here. Looking after the tires in those conditions was really hard, so I’m glad I managed. Thank you to everyone in the team for all their hard work – and to all the fans I have here.”
“I don’t know why but, when I go to Budapest, I always seem to have a lot of support. I love it here so it makes for a great week. I didn’t know how long the tires were going to last, so trying to spend the money wisely in terms of tire life and being able to push when I needed to push was a tricky balance to find.”
“I’ve not really thought about the standings much but it’s definitely a good feeling to get the job done here – particularly as it’s not been my strongest weekend. Not as strong as Silverstone, for example. But it’s been an awesome few races and I’ve just got to keep that kind of form up for the rest of the season.”
Both Red Bull and Ferrari showed moments of potential. Riccardo nearly went around the outside of both Mercedes for the lead at the start. He briefly got by Rosberg in turn one only to lose the position almost immediately in turn two.
Later the Australian was lapping faster than the Mercedes at times, but though he got the gap down to less than five seconds to Hamilton mid-race, he faded and was only just able to keep Ferrari’s Vettel at bay by the end.