Lewis Hamilton was at his scintillating best as he moved into the lead of the Formula 1 world championship for the first time this season with a dominant win at the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

It was the Briton’s eighth career victory around the Hungaroring circuit as he matched Michael Schumacher's record for most wins at the same circuit. 

With his 86th career victory, Hamilton is now just five wins short of equalling Schumacher’s record tally of 91, while he is on course to also level the German’s unrivalled achievement of seven world championships after moving into a five-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas

While the Finn recovered from a botched start to finish third just behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, it is Hamilton who leaves the opening three rounds in the driving seat for the 2020 title. 

The manner of Hamilton’s supreme display was emphasised by the fact he even had time to make a free pit stop for fresh tyres in the closing laps to claim the bonus point on offer for setting the fastest lap of the race. 

"We have to weigh up the risks,” Hamilton said of Mercedes’ decision to pit late on. 

“I didn't push so much that I was going to make a mistake and go off, so it was a fully controlled lap. 

"I've lost a world championship in the past by one point, so I know how crucial it is to maximise every moment.

"We're in a year where we don't know what reliability is going to be like, we don't know how long the season is going to be.

"Valtteri [Bottas] had a great first race. At the time he had the fastest lap, I had the gap, and felt that it was necessary to get that point, particularly as I felt like I'd earned the gap that I had.

"Things like the extra pit stop, coming in, all these things do add to the risk factors. But we're a professional team. I believe it was the right decision to make."

Considering the sheer dominance of his Mercedes team after three commanding wins on the bounce, it looks increasingly likely that this year’s title fight will be a two-horse race.

Red Bull work wonders as Verstappen redeems himself 

Verstappen’s race was nearly over before it began when he slid into the Turn 12 barriers after losing control of his Red Bull in wet conditions on his reconnaissance laps to the grid. 

The Dutchman broke his front wing and sustained suspension damage to the front left of his RB16, but his Red Bull mechanics managed to successfully fix his car in just 20 minutes. 

The work to change his left front push-rod on the grid was completed with just seconds to spare before the five-minute warning cut-off prior to lights out. 

Verstappen recovered to claim an extraordinary second place finish behind Hamilton, which the Dutchman described as feeling “like a victory” after atoning for his earlier error. 

A brilliant start enabled Verstappen to contend for the leading places early on, before he held off the late-charging Bottas in the closing laps to claim his second successive podium finish. 

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner revealed the last-minute repair that allowed Verstappen to participate in the race would normally take four-times as long. 

“I think Max went off three times on that lap to the grid,” Horner told media after the race. 

“The third one looked pretty terminal so we could immediately see the track rod and the push rod was broken, the big question was had it done the wishbone as well? 

“If it had done the wishbone that would have been game over. We decided to drive the car to the grid and do our best to repair the car on the grid.

“The mechanics did an unbelievable job,” he added. “What would usually take an hour and a half they did in 20 minutes and with about 25 seconds to go.  

“Full credit to them today because without them that result wouldn’t have been possible.” 

Teammate Alex Albon rounded out a solid day’s work for Red Bull as he claimed fifth place to bounce back from a difficult qualifying session in style. 

Bottas misses chance in fight against Hamilton 

Bottas missed an opportunity to extend the six-point advantage he held over Hamilton heading into the race after making a hash of his start. 

He explained that a light on his steering wheel distracted him and led to his poor getaway at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

“I was looking at the start lights, there were five lights on, so [I was] really just waiting for them to go off, and just before the lights when off something either turned on or off – I believe it was the main page of the dash changing to a different colour or something, like a pretty bright colour,” Bottas said. 

“I thought the lights went off. And anyway, I was kind of half-seeing the start lights because of the halo and the position I was in.

“It was an odd situation, that’s all I can explain now. I’m sure we’re going to review onboards, what exactly happened, and I will make sure nothing is going to be changing in the dash anymore just at the crucial moment because we don’t want any distraction like that in a sensitive moment.”

Importantly, Bottas avoided punishment for the incident, which prompted some questions. 

Bottas dropped to seventh at the start but had got back up to fourth by mid-race, picking off Lance Stroll when Racing Point pitted their man.

Mercedes attempted the same strategy that enabled Hamilton to reel in and pass Verstappen at last year’s race in a bid to seal a Mercedes 1-2, pitting Bottas for fresh tyres with 25 laps remaining. 

But unlike Hamilton, Bottas was unable to overcome Verstappen and missed out on second place - and the additional three points on offer - by just seven-tenths on the final lap. 

Small margins will prove key in defining what is expected to be a close year-long battle between the Mercedes duo, and Bottas can ill-afford to allow Hamilton any sort of advantage. 

Following two consecutive victories, Hamilton is riding a wave of momentum heading into back-to-back races at Silverstone, where he has recorded an incredible five wins in the last six years…