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Verstappen recovers from P10 start to win in Hungary, Ferrari blow it again

Verstappen recovers from P10 start to win in Hungary, Ferrari blow it again

31 July - 15:41 Last update: 16:41
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Max Verstappen has won a fascinating Hungarian Grand Prix which saw him start from 10th place on the grid due to an engine issue in qualifying. Verstappen's drive through the field was brilliant, but he was helped again by another strategy mistake from Ferrari on Charles Leclerc. Ferrari tried to react to Red Bull's undercut attempt, but they placed their lead driver on the hard tyres which didn't provide any grip. For the second week running, both Mercedes drivers joined Verstappen on the podium. 

A week after a disaster in France, Ferrari headed to Hungary as the favourites given the circuit characteristics. But the Italian team failed to capitalise and threw away another decent result. All weekend, the hard tyres weren't favoured and most team bosses suggested they wouldn't even be used during the race. Red Bull Racing pitted Verstappen and Ferrari then pitted too early for the softs to cover off the undercut. 

Russell didn't have the pace to keep the lead. For the first time as teammates, Hamilton and Russell engaged in an on-track battle with just six laps to go. Hamilton got the better of his younger teammate after Toto Wolff sat back and let his drivers fight. Leclerc ended up taking home sixth place, with Sainz in fourth. Perez was sandwiched between the two. 

The Hungarian Grand Prix saw a mix of tyre management, varied strategy and close racing with relatively little field spread. The threat of rain remained throughout, with some drops of drizzle reported by drivers but it never came hard enough to even think about intermediates. At various points in the first half of the race, it looked as though six different drivers had chances of winning the race. 

The Alpine team had a frustrating race. Sharing the third row, Alonso got pushed towards the pit wall off the line by his teammate. After the first wave of pitstops, they had another battle and lost places to their rival McLaren. But with Ricciardo not scoring any points, Alpine gained points over their rivals. On the weekend he announced his retirement, Sebastian Vettel claimed one point. 

Best grid of the season?

Russell shocked everyone during qualifying by pulling out the day's quickest lap to secure pole position. He had both Ferrari cars breathing down his neck but World Championship leaders Red Bull started from 10th and 11th due to a nightmare qualifying session though they were fitted with new power units. Lando Norris had a place on the second row, with Alpine taking the 3rd row. Lewis Hamilton started in 7th after a DRS issue plagued his Q3 session. Russell began on the soft tyre, with Ferrari on the mediums. Though question marks were raised with a few drops of rain falling.

The Ferrari cars were all over Russell in the first sector with the Mercedes struggling to put heat into its tyres. But Russell survived and remained in the lead. Verstappen and Perez moved up to P8 and P9 respectively. Debris from Albon's front wing caused a first-lap virtual safety car. With a good launch from the VSC, Russell opened up a 2.7-second lead by lap three.  

Unlike Hamilton's experiance 12 months ago, Verstappen didn't get stuck behind Alonso for many laps. The Dutchman continued his rise through the field and chased after Hamilton's P5 on lap eight. The seven-time World Champion managed to keep Verstappen comfortably in his mirrors. 

Into the pits 

On lap 16, Russell and Verstappen pitted as the soft tyres started to fade. This left Ferrari to fight for the lead, but they pulled in Sainz to pit one lap later. Russell maintained his advantage on Sainz with the undercut failing on a 3.7-second stop. Hamilton pitted four laps after Verstappen and emerged from the pits behind his 2021 rival. A lap later, Verstappen moved into fourth and was ready to attack Ferrari. Leclerc stopped on lap 22 and marginally came out behind Russell. Leclerc jumped Sainz. 

Either side of lap 30, Leclerc and Russell engaged in a brilliant battle for the lead. In the end, Leclerc overtook the young Brit at turn one on lap 31. This battle brought Verstappen back into the mix and only sat three seconds behind the man from Monaco. With rain in the air, the track became greasy. Leclerc had opened up a five-second gap by lap 38. Reacting to the gap, Red Bull opted to try the undercut with the medium tyres on lap 39. Leclerc reacted with a new set of hard tyres, with Russell trying another medium set. 

Russell emerged behind Verstappen proving the undercut worked. Leclerc stayed ahead, but only with a three-tenth gap. Leclerc struggled on the hard set and Verstappen got through. But the 2021 World Champion dropped it on the final corner letting Leclerc regain the virtual lead. It only took Verstappen a few laps to regain the lead. 

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