(Reuters) – A masterful Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix in dominant style and for a record eighth time on Sunday to wrest the Formula One championship lead from Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas.
Max Verstappen took second for Red Bull, the Dutch youngster awarded ‘drive of the day’ after crashing on the way to the grid in early drama that had his mechanics scrambling to fix the damage before the start.
Bottas, now five points behind Hamilton after three races, finished a close third after battling back from a botched start off the front row.
Hamilton’s 86th career victory, from his 90th pole position and collecting a bonus point for fastest lap, left the six-times world champion five short of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 wins.
“It was a pretty beautiful day, to be honest,” said Hamilton, who had lapped all but three cars by the time he pitted for soft tyres with three laps to go and a lead of more than 26 seconds.
The Briton also equalled Schumacher’s record of winning a grand prix eight times, something the Ferrari great achieved in France between 1994 and 2006.
“Round one had multiple different punches that I wasn’t perhaps ready for but I refocused and the last two have been fantastic,” Hamilton, fourth in the opener won by Bottas, said of the season so far.
“This weekend, we’ve just been on point throughout so we need to try and keep this up,” said the Briton, the only Black driver who again led other drivers in taking a knee before the start in support of anti-racism campaigns.
Hamilton, winner of the Styrian Grand Prix in Austria the weekend before, now has three wins in a row in Hungary, with the next two races on home soil at Silverstone.
Those will also be without spectators in a season overshadowed and delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
ZERO TO HERO
The day started wet and conditions were still greasy by the time the cars went out, as Verstappen discovered to his cost when he locked up and skidded into the tyre wall at turn 12.
The Dutch driver was amazed by his mechanics’ performance in winning their own race against the clock, giving him a car to drive from seventh place on the grid and zero to hero.
“I thought I was not going to race, so to be second is like a victory for me,” he said.
Bottas meanwhile rued what might have been, the Finn distracted on the grid by a cockpit light that made him move early and then stop before starting again.
“I reacted to a light on my dash that went off. I don’t know what it was and I reacted to that instead of the start light,” he said. “I lost many places and it made the race very difficult.”
Canadian Lance Stroll finished fourth for Racing Point, who are racing while subject to a protest from Renault over the legality of their Mercedes-lookalike car.
Alex Albon took fifth for Red Bull in another turn up for a team who appeared to be struggling on Saturday.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was sixth, with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez seventh and Australian Daniel Ricciardo eighth for Renault.
Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen finished ninth on track for Haas but a 10-second post-race penalty dropped him to 10th, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz moving up a place.
That allowed McLaren to stay ahead of Racing Point in the standings while Haas still scored their first point of the campaign.
AlphaTauri’s French driver Pierre Gasly was the only retirement of the race.