Max Verstappen again overtakes Charles Leclerc, who continues to struggle on hard tyres
Max Verstappen staged a stunning comeback from 10th on the grid to win the Hungarian Grand Prix and extend his title lead over Charles Leclerc, after another miserable Sunday for the Ferrari driver.
In a gripping race where three teams battled for victory, Verstappen battled his reliability-limited qualification with blistering pace and superior Red Bull strategy to win by seven seconds from Lewis Hamilton and pole-sitter George Russell while Mercedes celebrated another. double podium in the avoidable absence of Ferrari.
Leclerc fell victim to more questionable pit stop calls from Ferrari and would eventually finish in a paltry sixth, meaning Verstappen has an 80-point lead in the title heading into F1’s summer break.
Max Verstappen crosses the line to secure a brilliant win from 10th on the grid with Lewis Hamilton finishing second!
It was another victory that slipped from Leclerc’s fingers.
The Monegasque started third and after passing team-mate Carlos Sainz, ended Russell’s creditable hold on for the lead on lap 31, at which point he looked set to recover from the crash at Paul Ricard to get a win to push the championship.
But trying to match Verstappen’s pace, Ferrari threw Leclerc onto the hard tire and left him a sitting duck ahead of Red Bull and indeed other rivals. Verstappen would pass Leclerc twice, before and after a nerve-wracking turn in slippery conditions, to essentially seal his victory with 25 laps to go.
Anthony Davidson is on SkyPad to analyze Charles Leclerc’s strategic problems that led to his sixth place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Leclerc called the strategy a “disaster” and would stop again to finish behind Sergio Perez, who was the only Red Bull, Mercedes or Ferrari driver not to hold the lead at some point.
Sainz was fourth as, like Russell, he was overtaken by Hamilton in the closing stages as the seven-time world champion flew on soft tyres.
George Russell can’t hold off Lewis Hamilton, who is now second in the Hungarian GP, for long.
Lando Norris was unable to hold on to his starting position of fourth but did well to hold off the Alpines for seventh, with McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo a disappointing 15th and receiving a penalty for a crash from Lance Stroll.
Hungarian GP race result: Top 10
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) George Russell, Mercedes
4) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
5) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
6) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
7) Lando Norris, McLaren
8) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
9) Esteban Ocon, Alpí
10) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
How Verstappen tore through the field to win in Hungary
Three places lost for Leclerc, nine places gained for Verstappen… and 80 points ahead of the title. The Hungarian GP offered another big change in the momentum of the championship, and potentially a final one.
Despite the rain just before the lights went out, Verstappen made a good start from 10th, up to seventh on the first lap, and once the air cleared he was matching the pace of the leading cars, Russell, Sainz and Leclerc.
He easily dispatched the Alpines and undermined Hamilton.
Max Verstappen makes a lap and Charles Leclerc dives to get back in front of the Dutchman
But Leclerc also had a storming pace once he got ahead of Sainz and produced the breakthrough of the day to get past the outside of Russell’s Mercedes on the first lap just before the halfway point of the stage. He then opened up a five-second lead.
Verstappen’s second stop, however, seemed to scare Ferrari and rather to respond with their second car from Sainz, they stopped Leclerc.
Having only used medium tires so far and with more than 20 laps remaining, the hards, which were by far the slowest available on Sunday, were put on and Verstappen, on the mediums, was quickly in the firing range.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen overtake Lando Norris on lap 12.
The world champion overtook Leclerc with DRS on lap 41, before giving that place back on the next lap with a spin at turn 13, which almost opened the door for Russell.
Instead, Verstappen regained his composure and rejoined Leclerc on lap 45.
This put him into a clear lead and once Hamilton made his final stop all Verstappen had to do was manage the pace and even a light rain in the closing stages failed to rain on his parade
George Russell overtakes Charles Leclerc into second place as things go from bad to worse for Ferrari.
As for Ferrari and Leclerc, the team said they were surprised by the lack of pace from the hard-hitters, while Leclerc described the strategy as a “disaster”. Either way, I would box again for softs, only to drop back to sixth.
“We will talk about it within the team,” said Leclerc, with Ferrari facing another investigation into this title battle.
Just as Red Bull benefited from Ferrari’s struggles, so did Mercedes, who again impressed on race day.
Charles Leclerc says the team’s decision to put him on the hard tires was a disaster.
Russell started on the softs and fought well from pole, with Mercedes consistently responding to the strategy of Ferrari and Verstappen, while Hamilton played the long game, ending his stint with a furious stint on the softs.
This saw him expertly pass both Sainz and his teammate late on.
Lewis Hamilton is feeling very excited about the second half of the season after finishing P2 and having the pace to compete with Ferrari.
What’s next for F1 2022?
The sport now embarks on a four-week summer break ahead of the Belgian GP on August 28. The race at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps starts a European triple triple with Zandvoort and Monza.
Every race is live and exclusive to Sky Sports F1.