Verstappen started the Hungarian Grand Prix from P10, after a bad Q3 on Saturday. The Dutchman had technical problems with his car in the last part of qualifying. It had no power at a time when the Ferraris and Mercedes were already out of sight in the battle for pole position. “Obviously this is frustrating because I could have gone for pole here. In Q2 it still looked good, the speed was also there,” said the driver after qualifying.
After the problems in qualifying, Red Bull decided on Sunday to replace the engines of Sergio Pérez and Verstappen. That had no consequences in Budapest in terms of punishment, because both Pérez and Verstappen were not yet at the limit of the engine changes. Pérez started from P11, a place behind Verstappen.
The start of the Grand Prix in Hungary, where Max Verstappen started from P10.
Verstappen and Pérez started the race at the Hungaroring on softs, as did pole sitter George Russell. Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc (P2 and P3) started on mediums. Verstappen started well and quickly moved from place 10 to place 8. In the seventh lap, shortly after the safety car had been on track for a short period, the Dutchman also caught Fernando Alonso. By passing Esteban Ocon not much later, the reigning world champion pushed through to place 6.
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On lap ten, Verstappen joined Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris. The latter saw both drivers pass in a short time and fell back to sixth place himself. Verstappen was chasing Hamilton, but complained about some problems with his clutch, which slipped. After sixteen rounds, the Dutchman went in, and then returned to the field in eighth on medium tires. Two laps later, Pérez also switched to mediums.
Via a new pass at Alonso and a stop by Ocon, Verstappen moved to P4 and he was able to chase the Ferraris and leader Russell. The 24-year-old Briton was allowed to call himself leader in the race until round 31, but then Leclerc struck. The Ferrari driver passed Russell via a clever overtaking move and took over first place in the race. Sainz and Verstappen took advantage and narrowed the gap with the number 2, from then on Russell.
After 38 laps Verstappen went in for a new set of mediums and after Leclerc had been in once like Russell, the Dutchman passed the Mongeask on lap 41. A spin from Verstappen seemed to throw a spanner in the works, but the medium tire ultimately gave the Dutchman the desired advantage. On lap 45, Verstappen overtook Leclerc with a great move at the exit of Turn 1.
With 25 laps to go, Verstappen only had Hamilton and Sainz ahead of him, but after the Spaniard (continuing on softs) and Hamilton entered the pits on lap 51, Verstappen took the lead. An unbelievable windfall for Verstappen and the entire Red Bull camp, which would actually have seen a fourth or fifth place as the highest attainable and seemed to have to do damage control in Hungary.
Hamilton continued on softs and after Leclerc also switched to softs, the Monegask fell all the way back to P6. Hamilton had a strong finish to the race, passing Sainz and Russell again towards second place. With five laps to go, Verstappen was the front-runner by 11 seconds, and some rain came from the Hungarian clouds going into the last lap. . However, it no longer bothered Verstappen and the Dutchman recorded one of the most beautiful victories of his career.
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