Lewis Hamilton has moved to the top of the Formula 1 world championship standings for the first time this season with a dominant victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.  

The final leg of F1’s first triple-header of the delayed 2020 season threw up some surprise results in wet-dry conditions, but Hamilton prevailed to claim his eighth victory around the Hungaroring

While Hamilton can head into the week break before back-to-back races at Silverstone in a confident mood, some drivers will be left stewing over what might have been…

The Winners 

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes 

Just like in the second race in Austria, Hamilton was at his supreme best. The Briton charged to his 90th career pole position on Saturday and that set up what he made look like a routine Sunday drive to victory in the race. 

In a remarkable opening three laps in tricky damp conditions, Hamilton pulled eight seconds on the rest of the field, and by the end he was so far clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen that he could afford to come in and make a ‘free’ pitstop to put on fresh tyres and go for the fastest lap bonus point - which he duly grabbed. 

Hamilton was 13 points adrift of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas following the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, but he has eroded that deficit and turned the tables on Bottas to leave Budapest with a five-point advantage. 

For Mercedes, its performance across the opening three races and two very different tracks has outlined its superiority over the rest of the grid. 

Max Verstappen 

When Verstappen skated across the slick track and into the Turn 12 barriers on his way to the starting grid, it looked as though his race was run before it had even got underway. 

But his Red Bull mechanics pulled off a herculean effort to fix the damage to his front suspension and replace his front wing in just 20 minutes, a job which team principal Christian Horner said would normally take around an hour and a half. 

What’s more, it was all completed with just 25 seconds to spare before the five-minute cut off point before lights out.

But Verstappen redeemed himself in the race. A brilliant getaway enabled him to challenge for the top three positions by Turn 1, and having moved into second early on, he held off the late-charging Bottas to claim an outstanding second place finish behind the untouchable Hamilton. 

Kevin Magnussen 

Kevin Magnussen got his and Haas’ campaign off the mark by delivering the American squad its first points score of the 2020 season with a fantastic drive, aided by a brave strategy gamble. 

An inspired call from Haas to pit for slick tyres at the end of the formation lap paid off handsomely as Magnussen found himself running as high as third when the rest of the field were forced to pit to get rid of their wet-weather compounds within five laps. While Magnussen ultimately fell to a more realistic ninth at the chequered flag, it was a perfectly-executed race from the Dane to ensure Haas got up and running in what has otherwise proved a tough campaign. 

Magnussen described P9 as feeling “like a win” for the team and dropping one place to 10th after being hit with a 10-second time penalty for instructions received on the formation lap does not take away from Magnussen’s performance, and it will have done little to dampen his spirits. 

The losers 

Valtteri Bottas 

While Hamilton will leave Hungary with no regrets knowing he extracted everything and more from the weekend, the same cannot be said for Bottas, who spurned a golden opportunity.

If the evidence from the opening three rounds is anything to go by, it already looks like the 2020 title fight might well end up being an exclusive contest between the two Mercedes drivers, such is the German manufacturer’s early dominance. 

Bottas, who was six points clear of Hamilton heading into the race, fluffed his lines at the start with a botched getaway which saw him swallowed up in the chasing pack on the long drag down to Turn 1. 

While he ultimately turned in a solid recovery effort to claim third on the podium, he failed to pull off the same strategy that Hamilton turned into victory by catching and passing Verstappen late on in last year’s race. As a result, he is now five-points behind Hamilton. 

In a tight battle where every point will be crucial during a season which still doesn’t have a completed calendar, Bottas cannot afford to squander opportunities against an in-form Hamilton. 

AlphaTauri and Honda 

Pierre Gasly has been something of a quiet star of the season so far and his impressive performances continued as he qualified inside the top-10 on Saturday, while his AlphaTauri teammate Daniil Kvyat was eliminated in Q1. 

But the race ended in disappointment for the team as Gasly retired with yet another engine-related problem, after Honda had already fitted a brand new power unit into the Frenchman’s car after recurring issues had cropped up through qualifying. 

The issues will pose a real concern for both AlphaTauri and Honda, and both will be hoping fixes can be found before the next run of races which begin at Silverstone in a fortnight’s time. AlphaTauri missed out on points as Kvyat could only take P12 at the flag. 

Williams 

Williams continue to look like they have turned a corner in qualifying as George Russell delivered yet another stunning performance to claim his second straight P12 starting position, while Nicholas Latifi made it two Williams cars in Q2 for the first time since in two years. 

But just like in Austria, the team’s pace vanished in the race as both drivers tumbled down the order. The mysterious lack of competitiveness over a race distance was once again highlighted by Russell after the Hungarian Grand Prix. Williams will need to improve on this weakness if it is to score points this year. 

Russell ultimately took P18 ahead of Latifi, whose race was hampered by an early puncture picked up when Williams released him into the path of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in the pitlane, before a late spin saw him finish five laps down on the field. 

F1 

F1 did not cover itself in glory during a rushed and poorly organised anti-racism demonstration by the drivers after the race. 

The latest ‘end-racism’ stand was marred by confusion and a lack of unity as some of the drivers did not kneel and others failed to even turn up on time before the national anthem played. 

It was the third race in a row that an anti-racism demonstration had taken place, but arguably this was the most shambolic of the lot as the protest had to break up early. 

Hamilton, who was joined in taking a kneel by the majority of the drivers that did turn up on time, was irked by the situation and aimed criticism towards F1 and his peers for a lack of leadership. 

"There is definitely not enough support for it. It is lacking leadership,” Hamilton explained after the race.

"From a drivers' point of view, many seem to be of the opinion they've done it and they're not doing it again.”

Hamilton plans to speak with F1 and FIA president Jean Todt about the matter before the British Grand Prix.

 

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