Not far from the banks of the Danube, Mika Hakkinen waltzed away from the rest of the field to win the Hungarian Grand Prix
in some comfort.
The Finn hd hardly looked a competitive proposition after either qualifying or the race morning warm-up but, by the end of 77 gruelling laps in typically hot conditions, he had become only the second leader of the world championship this season.
With overtaking on the sinuous Hungaroring
circuit at a premium, Hakkinen knew that it was imperative to get past front row starters Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard
on the run to the first corner, or have to remain in contact with them until the first round of pit-stops.
Opting for the former, the Finn repeated his Hockenheim getaway to rocket down the inside of both his rivals headed for turn one, and squeezed into the lead by taking to the end of the pit-lane exit as he passed the pole-sitting Ferrari.
Although both Schumacher and Coulthard - who had to fend off a determined challenge from Ralf Schumacher rounding the first turn - stayed in touch initially, there was nothing either man could do about the leader, and Hakkinen quickly disappeared into the distance in the early stages.
Schumacher later admitted that, had Hakkinen not passed him where he did, he probably would have done so in short order, as the McLaren
was clearly the fastest car on the circuit. One and a half seconds to the good as early as lap five, the Finn's advantage continued to grow so that, by the time the first pit-stops loomed, he was nine seconds clear of the field.
Such was the leader's pace that many expected him to be among the first to stop for fuel, as McLaren
must surely have short-filled him in order to create the chance for a rapid opening stint. The illusion continued right up to the time that Schumacher appeared in pit-lane on lap 27, with Hakkinen not following suit for another four tours.
Having already set a scintillating pace in the first twenty laps - including a time of 1min 20.6 on lap 16 - Hakkinen set about repeating the dose as soon as he exited the pits. A 1min 20.0secs soon followed, and appeared to break the back of Schumacher's challenge.
*From then on, Hakkinen could cruise towards the chequered flag, with just his car's reliability and the occasional backmarker left to cause any hint of worry. Neither did, and Mika was home and dry.