Grand prix

“It says everything about his car”

Verstappen passed F1 title rival Charles Leclerc twice on his way to claiming an epic fightback victory in Sunday’s race at the Hungaroring, after engine trouble in Q3 left him 10th on the grid. 

The Red Bull driver’s remarkable charge was aided by a strategy shocker from Ferrari, before Verstappen eased to his eighth victory of the season to extend his world championship lead over Leclerc to 80 points.

Verstappen finished 10 seconds clear of Hamilton, who staged his own recovery from seventh after his DRS failed in qualifying to claim a strong second. 

“If you look at Max’s race – he started 10th, spun, and still won the race,” Hamilton said after the race. “That says pretty much everything about his car.” 

Asked if he thinks a win is now possible this season, Hamilton responded: “I hope so. It’s what we are working towards. 

“I think this weekend there was potential for a win. You saw George on pole. I think if we had both been up there we could have probably worked a bit better as a team. One of us would have been able to support each other strategy-wise. 

“But I think if we are able to take this pace into the second half of the season, for sure, we can start to fight with the guys. This is the first time that we’ve been able to fight and battle with a Ferrari – that’s huge for us. 

“I think the Red Bulls probably still are ahead. The fact that Max started 10th, spun and still finished 10 seconds ahead says enough about their car but I think we still have made huge progress and huge steps. 

“To have this consistency and two double podiums in the last two races, gives us great hope and a huge push for the second half.” 

Hamilton’s charge to second was helped by running an offset strategy that saw him run two stints on the medium tyre before switching to the faster softs for the final stages. 

The seven-time world champion suggested he could have challenged Verstappen for the win if he started the race on softs. 

“I would say probably going longer in that second stint, giving me the option to then go to the softer tyre at the end,” he said when asked what the key moment of his race was. 

“That offset that I enabled myself to get, I think probably the race was lost with that first stint on the medium tyre. But the second and third part of the race was pretty epic.”

Hamilton added: “If we had started where we should have started without the problem yesterday, I think we would have then been in a much better place to race Max today.” 

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