A bold strategy call from Mercedes helped Lewis Hamilton snatch the lead of the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with just three laps to go, with the Briton taking his eighth victory of the 2019 season.
In an entertaining race, the leading two were in a class of their own all day, with Verstappen seizing the initiative from his maiden pole position and Hamilton settling into second place, Xinhua reported.
The Briton pushed hard after both drivers had made their pit stops and briefly took the lead after the pair went wheel-to-wheel at turn four on lap 39, but ran wide on the corner exit and was obliged to give the position back to Verstappen.
Realizing that their man would be unlikely to overtake Verstappen on track, Mercedes elected to pit Hamilton for another set of new tyres on lap 48, in the hope that the fresh rubber would allow him to quickly close the gap to the Dutchman.
Shifting to a two-stop strategy worked a treat, with Hamilton not losing his second place and setting several lap records as he closed on Verstappen at over a second per lap, ultimately taking the race lead on lap 67 of 70 as the Red Bull’s badly worn tyres rendered the Dutchman defenceless.
Speaking after the race, Hamilton paid tribute to his team’s role in securing the victory. “I’m really grateful for the team for believing in me and always pushing to the limits and taking a chance.”
“This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of everyone at the factory. I was on the limit all the way. I didn’t know if I could overhaul a 19-second gap. It was like (doing) qualifying laps every lap,” he said.
Despite losing the lead so late in the race, Verstappen was magnanimous in defeat. “We were not fast enough,” the Dutchman lamented.
“We tried everything, but it was not enough, but I think it was a good weekend overall. Congratulations to Lewis. He was pushing me hard, and I like that.”