A brave two-stop strategy by Mercedes handed Lewis Hamilton victory over Max Verstappen at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel complete the podium at the Hungaroring.
It was a rough opening few corners for Valtteri Bottas as he got a poor start off the line, lost a place to his teammate and then damaged his front wing defending against Charles Leclerc, forcing the Finn to make an early pitstop.
Pierre Gasly also lost places early in the race, with both McLarens getting past him before the first turn before Kimi Raikkonen past a few moments later.
Verstappen appeared to be comfortable in the opening couple of laps, but Hamilton soon started to close the gap to the leader, who was complaining of tyre wear. Red Bull had to bring the Dutchman in before Hamilton for new tyres, but were able to find a gap to put Verstappen back out on a clear track, allowing him to stay within a pitstop of the Mercedes.
Hamilton came in six laps later almost six seconds adrift of the Red Bull driver, but on fresher tyres in the reigning champion found himself on the rear wing of the leader within a couple of laps. Hamilton and Verstappen went wheel to wheel through several corners as the Briton tried to make the most of his newer Pirellis, but Verstappen’s strong defensive driving kept him behind.
With Hamilton unable to find a way past the pole sitter, Mercedes tried a change of strategy with 20 laps remaining, bringing him in for a second pitstop. With a big gap over Leclerc in third, Hamilton came out 20 seconds behind the Dutch driver, leaving Red Bull without enough time to bring Verstappen in on the following lap.
Hamilton took five seconds out of the lead fairly quickly, but his progress seemed to slow. He responded by putting in several new lap records in quick succession to get within 9 seconds with eight laps spare.
Romain Grosjean was the first and only driver the retire when he came in to the pitlane with a water pressure issue. His teammate, Kevin Magnussen, had a closely-fought contest with Daniel Ricciardo over 14th, with the Australian complaining over the radio about the Haas driver’s defending.
With five laps left, Verstappen complained that his tyres were dead, with Hamilton moving to within three seconds, with the Briton finally making the pass at the start of lap 67.
Red Bull immediately responded by pitting Verstappen for a late charge to take the fastest lap away from Hamilton, which he managed on the penultimate lap to secure a bonus point.
As things settled down at the front, Vettel caught teammate Leclerc with two laps to go as the two Ferraris went head to head for the final spot on the podium, but on newer soft tyres it was a simple overtake for the German.
Bottas recovered well after dropping to the back of the field early on, moving past Lando Norris in the final few laps to take eighth, while Alexander Albon made a late overtake on Sergio Perez to secure the final place in the points.
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
6. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull)
7. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
8. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
9. Lando Norris (McLaren)
10. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso)
11. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
12. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
13. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
14. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
15. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
16. George Russell (Williams)
17. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
18. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
19. Robert Kubica (Williams)
Romain Grosjean (Haas)