It got hot and heavy in Hungary this weekend, as Lewis Hamilton raced to victory on the freshly laid blacktop of the legendary Hungaroring circuit. Still riding high after his awesome hometown win at Silverstone a fortnight ago, Lewis’ victory in the furnace-like conditions on the outskirts of Budapest – with track temperatures peaking at nearly 60°C during Sunday’s race – means he has dealt a double knockout blow to his team-mate ahead of the final race in Germany before the mid-season summer break.
Not only has Lewis snatched the lead in the drivers championship by six points – with a total of 192 ahead of Nico’s tally of 186 points - but he did it all with an epic start from P2 on the grid; after a yellow flag mixed up the expected start order between the Silver Arrows drivers, allowing Nico Rosberg to snatch a record 26th career pole position.
Speaking from the top step of the podium, following his fifth victory in six races in which he has transformed a 43-championship point deficit into a six-point lead, Lewis said: “It's been an awesome few races and I've just got to keep that kind of form up for the rest of the season. I think Spain was definitely a turning point. It didn’t feel like it was but it was rock bottom basically. The only way was up. I just managed to get my head together and get my shit together and get on with it, even though I have less engines, my mechanics had been changed. All these different things which didn’t seem to be working; I just had to deal with it. Since then we’ve pulled together. I’d love to come out of the next race with a result like this so when I do go to Spa or Monza, and have a penalty and start from the pit lane or last place, that is a minimum damage. It doesn’t mean I’m 25 points behind; I don’t really want to go back to there.
“I honestly feel we’re in the strongest position we’ve been in all year, and how unified we are. Today was one of the hottest races I can remember here. Looking after the tyres in those conditions was really hard, so I'm glad I managed. Thank you to everyone in the team for all their hard work - and to all the fans I have here. I don't know why but, when I go to Budapest, I always seem to have a lot of support. I love it here so it makes for a great week”
Down but definitely not out, Nico is determined to regain the lead at his home race at the equally epic Hockenheimring in Germany next weekend, saying: “Really, I lost the win in the first corner when I dropped down two positions, so I'm disappointed as I wanted to win the race and was confident I had a strong possibility to do so. It wasn't the best start from me, so it was good to catch Daniel directly in T1 and get P2 back. But behind Lewis it was impossible to overtake on this track. I had great pace in the race, which is very positive - but unfortunately I wasn't able to make the most of it.
“I’ve always said I’m not counting points. I fully expected him to come back and I didn’t expect to be 43 points in front all the time, it ebbs and flows and it’s always going to be a tough battle against him because he’s the world champion. I’m disappointed because I wanted to win Hungary. I will be very excited again soon though, because it’s my home race next and I’ll try and get the thrill from the home crowd, so hopefully I can get the win. It’s still close and it just takes a small thing to switch it the other way and I want to do that at Hockenheim.”
The action continues next weekend at the equally epic Hockenheimring on July 31st.
Result – 70 laps:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h40m30.115s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.977s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 27.539s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 28.213s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 48.659s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 49.044s
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1 Lap
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1 Lap
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
11 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
12 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1 Lap
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
14 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1 Lap
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1 Lap
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
18 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 2 Laps
19 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 2 Laps
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 2 Laps
21 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 2 Laps
- Jenson Button McLaren/Honda Retirement