Max Verstappen made a monster drive to win Formula 1’s 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix, and with some help from yet another bad Ferrari call, potentially put the championship on ice.
Verstappen scored his 28th grand prix win from 10th on the grid, slowly working his way through the top 10 before finding himself at fifth before his second pit stop.
Although it drizzled for much of the race, the rain was never hard enough for the race conditions to be declared wet until the final lap.
George Russell led the early part of the race before being outmuscled by Charles Leclerc, who led a few laps before pitting on lap 40 for hard compound tires. Verstappen had pitted a lap earlier for medium compound tires and easily passed Leclerc for presumptive lead on lap 41 after both pitted, before Verstappen spun out in a bit of standing water coming out of turn 13. But the spin only illustrated how bad an idea the hard tire compound was, because Verstappen came back and passed Leclerc once again five laps later.
It was an easy drive the rest of the way for Verstappen once the pit stops finished cycling out, barring the rain on the last lap. Lewis Hamilton finished second and pole sitter George Russell ended up third.
“We had a really good strategy,” Verstappen said in the podium interview with F1 Media. “We were really reactive, always pitting at the right time.
“We had some good out laps, and in the end, even with the 360°, we won the race. … I was struggling a bit with the shifts and the clutch, and we had to change a few things to not basically burn the clutch. That cost a bit of performance and that caught me out of that corner.”
Carlos Sainz just did not have the speed on the final run and was passed by Hamilton late, having to settle for fourth. Sergio Perez quietly finished fifth, and Leclerc could only manage sixth on a day he could have at least contended for a win had the strategy worked out.
Lando Norris finished seventh, and the Alpine pair of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon finished eighth and ninth, respectively, after all three ended the day on hard tires. The soon-to-be-retiring Sebastian Vettel got the last point of the day in 10th.
In turn 2 of the first lap, Alex Albon made contact with Vettel and showered debris out onto the racetrack, causing a virtual safety car. The VSC ended on lap 3, and Albon had to pit to make repairs to the car. This was ruled a racing incident, and neither driver were penalized for it. Albon finished 17th.
Lap 48, Daniel Ricciardo (who finished 15th) drifted up into Lance Stroll (11th) on cold hard compound tires and spun him out. No caution was called, but Ricciardo was handed a five-second penalty for causing a collision.
Verstappen now has an 80-point lead on Leclerc entering the month-long summer break, prior to the final nine races of the season.
The next race on the F1 calendar is the Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Lights out will be on Aug. 28, 9 a.m. ET, with coverage provided by Sky Sports F1 on ESPN2.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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