Lewis Hamilton has taken the lead in the Formula 1 Drivers Championship for the first time this season after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. The Briton, who trailed Nico Rosberg by 43 points at one stage, now takes a six point lead to Hockenheim next weekend after overtaking his teammate at the start and converting it into a fifth win of 2016.
With the Hungaroring notoriously difficult to overtake on, the start was always going to be crucial and although the Mercedes were neck-and-neck on the approach to turn one, Hamilton won the battle on the brakes to snatch the lead. Rosberg was also usurped by the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo but a brave move around the outside of turn two saw the German regain second with Max Verstappen close behind his teammate in fourth.
After shedding the super-soft tyres on lap sixteen, Hamilton started to encounter difficulties on the soft tyre during his second stint, not only bringing Rosberg onto his tail but allowing Ricciardo to chase the Silver Arrows down at one second per lap. Sensing an opportunity, Red Bull called in the Australian on lap 33 for his second and final stop but the undercut didn’t work out, enabling Mercedes to retain control of the race when they stopped for the second time eight laps later.
Ricciardo was no longer a threat to the world champions and the fight for victory became an all-Silver squabble in the final stint. Once Rosberg had pitted, Hamilton enjoyed a four second cushion but when Esteban Gutierrez ignored blue flags, holding up the leader, Rosberg was hot on the heels of the no.44. Faced with a genuine threat for the first time all afternoon, Lewis responded with his personal best lap of the race and despite Nico’s best efforts, the reigning champion held on for victory by just under two seconds.
The final podium spot was disputed between Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari with Verstappen losing any chance after emerging from his first stop behind Kimi Raikkonen who had started on soft tyres from the seventh row. With Ricciardo’s early stop now coming back to haunt him, Vettel closed in on fresher rubber but the Australian held on by 0.674s.
Raikkonen’s progress was impressive in the first stint as he overhauled Verstappen but once the pit-stops had been completed, the Dutchman had regained fifth. Raikkonen, however, had a new set of super-softs available and caught the no.33 rapidly but a collision at turn two thwarted Kimi’s best attempt, the Finn angered by what appeared to be a double-move by the teenager.
Fernando Alonso took a solid seventh on a bittersweet day for McLaren Honda who lost Jenson Button from eighth in the early stages to falling hydraulic pressure. To compound the misery, the 2009 champion was handed a drive-through penalty for unauthorised radio communication and an oil leak eventually ended his afternoon ten laps from the finish.
Carlos Sainz was eighth for Toro Rosso ahead of Valtteri Bottas while Nico Hulkenberg held off Force India teammate Sergio Perez to claim the final point. Jolyon Palmer looked set to score his first points for Renault at one stage but a spin at turn four dropped him to twelfth, a position he would ultimately finish in.
FORMULA 1 MAGYAR NAGYDIJ 2016 (RACE RESULT)
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