Lewis Hamilton hunts down Max Verstappen to win Hungarian GP



Hamilton: Well, firstly that's really awesome that he's supportive. "I know if (late Mercedes non-executive chairman and triple champion) Niki (Lauda) was here today, he would take his hat off".

The former non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team Lauda always wore a scar-covering red baseball cap that he would doff to the team whenever they achieved a great success. An alarmed Verstappen reported that his tires couldn't safely finish the race, and Red Bull gave him one more pit stop, whereupon he took a set of soft tires to set the fastest lap of the race.

Then the team made a key strategic decision.

Hamilton was within one second of Verstappen when he was called in for a second pit stop - Mercedes hoping that a switch to fresh tyres would provide the British star with a chance to usurp Verstappen.

It was a two-horse race soon after a challenging start between Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton.

"But then when I saw the onboard, and when I saw Vettel's onboard, it was clear that I was just going straight ahead, he was on the right, and he would have been anyways ahead of me before Turn 4 going straight".

"It was hard to get by, the defence was great, and I didn't know if I could catch that 19-second gap". Their defence was great.

"That was definitely a tall order but I'm grateful we did it", said Hamilton of a strategy that left him with a gap of nearly 20 seconds to close in the final 22 laps. But Mercedes remained adamant that Verstappen would be on "zero rubber" by race's end, and its prophecy was fulfilled when Verstappen exclaimed on lap 64 via team radio, "These tires are dead!"

A week on from their rain-swept and desultory exit from a near-disastrous German Grand Prix, they had clearly responded with a smart strategy, slick tactics and pitstops.

"We were just not fast enough, but I tried everything I could on those hard tyres to stay alive", he said.

"We've been together seven years and it never gets old".

"Maybe I left a bit too much, because he could then carry a lot of speed into Turn 3 - we were side by side and for sure he didn't leave any room for me and that compromised my exit out of Turn 3".

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso, once his partner at McLaren, was thrilled by the race and used Twitter to convey his congratulations to both Hamilton and Verstappen. "Both impressive, thanks for the show!" "The auto felt good all weekend, we knew it was going to be hard but the vehicle was flying".

"Congratulations to Lewis. He was pushing me really hard".

"Sorry I doubted the strategy", an ecstatic Hamilton said after an eighth win this season.

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