Lewis Hamilton took the F1 championship lead as he won the Hungarian Grand Prix for the eighth time on Sunday, leading from start to finish at one of his favorite circuits.
The imperious victory, lapping arch-rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari on the way, was the 86th of his career and puts him firmly on course for a seventh world title at the end of a coronavirus-shortened season.
Dutchman Max Verstappen claimed a remarkable second place, recovering his composure after a pre-race accident saw him lose control of his Red Bull on a surface made treacherous by rain and crashing into the barriers.
Verstappen was able to nurse his damaged car back to the grid where his mechanics worked furiously to affect a repair and enable him to start.
A relieved Verstappen said over the team radio: “I just want to say incredible work, guys. Thank you so much.”
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas completed the podium, hampered by a sorry start that saw him slip from second to sixth, and losing his lead in the title standings in the process, now trailing the six-time champion by five points.
The changeable weather conditions were the factor as Verstappen was left with a red face and also came into play early in the third race of the season with cars coming in for early pit stops to change from intermediate to slicker tires in drying conditions.
Hamilton quickly built a commanding lead and was never challenged, having time to take a third and extra pit stop near the end of the 70 laps to change to the quicker softer tire to set the fastest lap of the race and claim an extra point.
His eighth victory at the Hungaroring sees him match the previous F1 record of Michael Schumacher, who claimed eight wins in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.
Hamilton is also closing fast on Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 wins and such is the superiority of the Mercedes there will be few betting against him achieving it this season.
Behind the top three, Lance Stroll took an excellent fourth for the improved Racing Point team, with Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon working his way through the field for fifth place ahead of Vettel in the under performing Ferrari with Charles Leclerc enduring a miserable time in 11th spot.
Taking to the knee
Before the race, Hamilton, who has been outspoken on issues of racism in sport, took the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt.
However, as at the previous two races in Austria, there was a lack of unity among drivers in taking the knee with some opting not to make the gesture.
Hamilton, only fourth behind Bottas in the opener after receiving a penalty, has charged back with two successive and commanding victories.
“I definitely feel round one was multiple different punches I perhaps was not ready for,” he said.
“I refocused and the last two have been fantastic. We’ve been on point this whole weekend. Need to try and keep this up.”
For Verstappen, who had to battle to hold off Bottas on the last lap, second place was a bonus.
“I was very happy with second, as I thought I was not going to race. So to be second is like a victory today.”
The championship now moves to Hamilton’s home track of Silverstone in a fortnight for a series of two races with the Spanish and Belgian GPs the only others scheduled at the moment.