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Fans were treated to one final race before Formula One’s month-long hiatus. Just a week after a thrilling German Grand Prix, the FORMULA 1 MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2019 follows a series of three exciting races and fans were excited to keep that trend going into the summer break.
Max Verstappen had a strong start when the lights went out, redeeming himself from his poor start last weekend. Lewis Hamilton also had a strong start. They were three-wide with Valtteri Bottas into the first corner. Bottas locked up into the corner from the middle of the sandwich, so Hamilton needed to back out.
The two Mercedes drivers were side-by-side around the second corner. Hamilton got by his teammate in the third corner, climbing into P2. However, he clipped Bottas’ front wing on the exit of the corner. Bottas also made some minor contact with Charles Leclerc when trying to move over to the racing line into turn four.
The front wing damage from both collisions slowed Bottas. He quickly dropped to P5 and the team pitted him for hard tyres and a new front wing as soon as a gap became available. This dropped him to the rear of the field. He quickly began making up positions and had a strong pace on the hard tyres.
Verstappen maintained a roughly two-second lead to Hamilton. The two Ferraris were clearly off the pace to the leaders, dropping nearly 16 seconds off of Hamilton by the end of the first 20 laps.
The Toro Rosso drivers treated fans to a little action. Daniil Kvyat launched an attack on his teammate Alexander Albon. The duo was side-by-side through the first sector, just inches from a collision. Kvyat won the battle after forcing Albon wide on the outside of turn four.
Back at the lead of the race, Hamilton began to make up ground on Verstappen, closing the gap to within DRS range. Verstappen began to complain over the team radio about a lack of grip. Verstappen lost out when lapping Sergio Perez, but he was able to stretch the gap a little more once he moved into the clean air.
With the gap now increased back to 1.4 seconds, Red Bull was the first to blink. Verstappen was called into the pits for the hard compound tyres on lap 25. Crucially, he rejoined the race ahead of Leclerc.
Mercedes didn’t respond to the pit stop, waiting to pit Hamilton. The team feared losing track position, presumably to Leclerc. But the longer the race went on, the less likely it looked that Hamilton would successfully overcut Red Bull.
Ferrari pitted Leclerc for hard tyres on lap 27. His teammate would pit 12 laps later. Vettel was running plan C, pitting for soft tyres. He lost time in the pits after the team had issues securing the front-right tyre to the car.
Mercedes waited to pit Hamilton until lap 31, largely because he had caught up to a pack of lapped cars. The front-right tyre change was slow, bringing the pit stop time to four seconds. He rejoined the race more than six seconds behind the race leader.
Hamilton pushed hard while his tyres were young, closing to DRS range within just a few laps. He briefly dropped outside of DRS after taking a wide line around turn one. The DRS returned when Verstappen was held up when lapping Perez.
Verstappen felt the pressure from Hamilton when lapping former teammate Daniel Ricciardo down the main straight. Hamilton had a look into the first corner but waited. With a good exit of the corner and some help from the DRS, Hamilton launched an attack around the outside of the second corner. Verstappen held on, but Hamilton tried an overtake around the outside of turn four. Hamilton ran wide and yielded the position.
The battle subsided when Hamilton again dropped outside of DRS range. Mercedes told their driver to use the break in the action to work on temperature management.
With just over 20 laps remaining in the race, Bottas made a second pit stop for a set of medium tyres. Mercedes caught Red Bull off guard by calling Hamilton into the pits for a set of fresh mediums as well. It cost Hamilton nothing since Ferrari was well off the pace.
Red Bull failed to respond and lost their chance to do so as Hamilton closed the gap. Pitting would mean that Verstappen would have come behind Hamilton. Verstappen expressed some frustration over the team radio, wishing the team had swapped his tyres while they had the opportunity.
Verstappen was able to delay Hamilton’s progress, but he quickly ran out of tyres. With 15 laps remaining in the race, Hamilton began to slash the deficit, setting a new lap record each time he crossed the finish line. With just 10 laps remaining in the race, the gap was within 10 seconds. The team predicted that Hamilton would be within striking distance by the end of the race.
By lap 66, Hamilton was right on the gearbox of Verstappen. Red Bull advised Verstappen to use the overtake button and gave him some powerful engine modes to combat the pace difference. But it wasn’t enough to hold off the pursuing Mercedes. With a quick run out of the final corner, DRS assistance and fresher tyres, Hamilton breezed past Verstappen on the outside of the first corner.
With the race win now out of sight, Red Bull took advantage of their free pit stop. The mission was to take the first lap and they gave Verstappen a couple of laps to do that. He was able to do it on the penultimate lap.
A little further back, Vettel was gaining quickly on his teammate. He was on newer tyres and running the faster soft compound tyres. Vettel had a run down the main straight, moving to the inside. Leclerc defended into the first corner but lost the position.
Formula One is done for the summer, giving the teams a much-needed break. It won’t return until the start of September when the teams head to Belgium on the weekend of September 1.
Above results table does not include any post-race penalties