BUDAPEST: Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position for Mercedes yesterday to go into the August break with a 24-point lead over Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel was runner-up, 17.1 seconds behind, and surviving a late collision with Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas who also banged bodywork with Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari, mourning the death of former chairman Sergio Marchionne, had Kimi Raikkonen finish third to complete a podium of champions on a dry and sweltering afternoon at the Hungaroring outside Budapest.
The victory was Hamilton’s record sixth in Hungary, fifth of the season and 67th of his career.
In a race effectively decided by Saturday’s wet qualifying, when Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid against expectation, Hamilton was never challenged.
“We came here knowing Ferrari would be really quick this weekend so to come out with these points, we’ll definitely take it as a bonus,” said Hamilton in a pitlane interview after embracing team members.
“I’m really happy with how strong it’s come in the last couple of races. We’ve got to come strong in the next half,” added the 33-year-old, who won in Germany from 14th place on the grid a weekend earlier.
After 12 races, Hamilton has 213 points to Vettel’s 189. Tyre strategies were also crucial at a relatively slow and twisty circuit where overtaking is always difficult, with track temperatures hovering around 50 degrees Celsius.
Vettel started on the softs and went for a longer first stint than Mercedes, worried by Ferrari’s quick getaways, who opted for ultrasofts that were quicker at the start but faded more rapidly.
Lining up in fourth place on the grid, Vettel grabbed third from Raikkonen immediately but could not find a way past Bottas who slotted in behind Hamilton as a defence against the red threat.
“We were out of position. I think we could have gone with Lewis today with the race pace,” said Vettel.
“P2 is not really what we wanted this weekend but I think it was the maximum today.”
Raikkonen, without water during the race after Ferrari forgot to connect the bottle, made two stops and agreed third – his fifth successive podium finish – was the best he could have hoped for in the circumstances.
Ricciardo, starting 12th, finished fourth but his Dutch team mate Max Verstappen retired early on with a Renault engine failure that infuriated both driver and team boss Christian Horner.
Bottas ended up fifth, and was called to see stewards about the collisions, with French driver Pierre Gasly sixth for Toro Rosso. Kevin Magnussen was a lapped seventh for Haas, lifting the US-owned team to fifth and ahead of Force India, with double world champion Fernando Alonso eighth for McLaren on his 37th birthday.