Belfast Telegraph

Hamilton in a dimension of his own, says thrilled Wolff

 

Winner: Lewis Hamilton
Winner: Lewis Hamilton

By Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton's stunning drive to victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix "was of a different dimension", his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff hailed last night.

The five-time world champion will head into Formula One's summer break with a mammoth 62-point lead in the Championship after he hunted down Max Verstappen before passing the Red Bull star in the closing stages of a captivating race.

The duo, Formula One's current stand-out performers, were in a class of two as they diced for the win during 70 laps of compelling action at the Hungaroring.

Hamilton ran off the road twice in his charge for glory before Mercedes rolled the strategy dice.

The Briton was called in for a second time, allowing him to end the race on superior tyres to Verstappen. The challenge, laid down by Mercedes, was for Hamilton to wipe out Verstappen's 21-second lead in just 21 laps.

It seemed improbable - Hamilton himself questioned the call on the radio - but he turned in a catalogue of spellbinding laps to catch and then fly round the outside of Verstappen at the opening corner with just three laps left.

"Lewis' driving today was of a different dimension," said Mercedes team principal Wolff.

"In order to dominate an era a team needs to work together on a journey towards creating something special.

"It doesn't happen without every member of the team delivering, but it certainly doesn't happen without the right guy driving.

"At first it did not seem possible, but as soon as Lewis sniffed the position there was no holding back. It was an unbelievable drive."

It was a brilliant response from Hamilton just seven days on from his Hockenheim horror show.

He made two mistakes during the rain-hit German race, crashing out from the lead before asking to retire. He finished in 11th.

Here, he was back at his remarkable best, taking his 81st victory to move to within 10 of Michael Schumacher's all-time record. A sixth World Championship is almost certain to follow this year.

After team-mate Valtteri Bottas could manage only eighth -the Finn's afternoon scuppered by a first-lap collision with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc - Hamilton has the equivalent of three victories in his pocket with just nine rounds remaining when the action resumes at Spa-Francorchamps on September 1.

"It felt like the steepest wall to climb when you come out that far behind," said Hamilton. "We talked about strategy this morning and they said that a two-stopper was not going to happen. I was like, 'Jeez, I don't know how this is going to work out'.

"The team are very calm when they talk about strategy, but for sure they were nervous as hell that it wasn't going to work.

"It felt like a big gamble for us. It was a bold, risky strategy call from them. From me, it was just about doing the job. I just had to do the laps. Collectively, it was exceptional by the team."

Verstappen did not put a foot wrong after winning the charge from pole to the first corner. He was gracious in defeat.

"Lewis was on fire today," said the Dutchman, 69 points adrift of Hamilton in the standings.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel completed the podium places after he fought his way past team-mate Leclerc in the closing stages.

Carlos Sainz was fifth for McLaren, but British teenager Lando Norris finished a disappointing ninth after a slow pit stop.

FIA Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary

Leading Positions after Race (70 Laps): 1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1hr 35mins 03.796secs, 2 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:35:21.592, 3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:36:05.229, 4 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:36:09.046, 5 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren at 1 lap.

World Championship Standings after Hungarian Grand Prix

Leading Drivers: 1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 250pts, 2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 188, 3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 181, 4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 156, 5 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 132.

Manufacturers: 1 Mercedes GP 438pts, 2 Ferrari 288, 3 Red Bull 244, 4 McLaren 82, 5 Scuderia Toro Rosso 43, 6 Renault 39, 7 Alfa Romeo Racing 32, 8 Racing Point 31, 9 Haas F1 26, 10 Williams 1.

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