Lewis Hamilton produced one of the most shattering victories in recent Formula One history at the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, taking career win 86, just a day after seizing his landmark 90th career pole. His triumph moves him to only five wins of matching Schumacher’s seemingly untouchable record. With seven races to come in just nine weeks, Hamilton might equal or pass the German ace by September in the two consecutive Italian rounds.
So explicit was Hamilton’s pace at the Hungaroring that he calmly stopped for new tyres with four laps remaining – setting the fastest lap and claiming a bonus point.
Taking second on the podium was Max Verstappen. The Dutchman suffered a crash on the way to the grid, and it was only due to the incredible discipline of his Red Bull mechanics that he was able to start the Grand Prix. Finishing third was Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, just 0.75 seconds behind.
Hamilton’s seventh pole in Hungary matches the track record held by Michael Schumacher, and he is the first driver to reach 90 poles, 22 more than Schumacher and 25 more than his hero, Ayrton Senna.
His second run was a straight fight between himself and Bottas, and once more, Hamilton had the advantage. He put in a lap that was faster through every sector, setting a track record of 1:13.447.
It was an all-Mercedes engine top four with Bottas in second, a tenth down and the Racing Point drivers, Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez, almost a full second behind in third and fourth -Racing Point having made a giant leap from last year, when they were 17th and 19th on the grid. Red Bull struggled for balance and stability all weekend and endured a disappointing qualifying, with Alexander Albon out in Q2 in 13th and
Max Verstappen finishing in seventh, behind the Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
Following a deluge of rain an hour before the start, the race began in greasy conditions. During the grid formation lap, Max Verstappen virtually lost the Hungarian Grand Prix when he locked his tyres on the slippery pavement, and his RB16 speared the outside guard-rail in Turn 12. Thanks to his Red Bull crew, less than twenty minutes later, he was ready to win it.
Verstappen restarted and limped to his seventh grid spot. There his mechanics replaced his car’s left front track rod and pull rod, replaced the front wing and nose, and recalibrated the toe settings. They remounted his wheel with five seconds remaining before FIA regulations would have made him a non-starter.
Meanwhile, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean announced that the track was drying quickly, and had taken to the pits, instead of their grid spots, to change from rain tyres to slicks. They would have an advantage on the dry pavement but would be required to start from the pit lane.
As the lights counted down, second starter Bottas’ Mercedes inched forward and then stopped. As the lights went out, Bottas was in anti-stall and had to press start again.
Luckily, his FIA sensor didn’t register a false start, and his slow start didn’t collect any drivers blinded by the spray.
However, he plummeted down the order as the faster starters – Hamilton, Stroll, Verstappen – up from 7th, Vettel, Leclerc, Perez and Sainz surged around him.
By Lap 2, Hamilton had established a 3-second gap – which increased to 7-seconds on Lap 3. He stopped to change to medium tyres, triggering most of the field to stop for dry tyres as well. Incredibly, Max Verstappen inherited the lead. The Dutchman would switch over a lap later. Verstappen returns in second, 7.5-seconds behind Hamilton. The Brit would remain untouchable and out of sight for the remainder of the race.
As Bottas moved up through traffic, the Finn passed Leclerc for sixth as race engineers begin warning their drivers that rain is due in the next 20-minutes.
Warnings of rain would persist over the next 30 minutes kept teams from revising race plans. The skies darkened but held their moisture. Ahead, Verstappen was 11.2 – seconds behind Hamilton, with Lance Stroll 15 seconds further behind the Dutch ace.
On Lap 36, Bottas pitted for mediums. Verstappen stopped for new tyres on Lap 38, as did Hamilton. The gap between Verstappen and Bottas had fallen to 5.7 -seconds. Vettel moved up to fifth on Lap 45 as Ricciardo pitted his Renault.
Bottas pitted again on Lap 51 for hard tyres to undercut Verstappen and then pass him over the final 20 laps.
By Lap 59 of 70, Hamilton has lapped everyone up to Lance Stroll in fourth after passing Vettel. The gap to Verstappen is 24 seconds, with the gap from the Dutchman to Bottas falling to 10 seconds.
The Finn was the now the fastest man on the track, and Hamilton wouldn’t surrender the fastest lap and a bonus point to his rival in identical Mercedes machinery. By Lap 65, he trailed Verstappen by just 5.5-seconds, as Hamilton pitted to set the fastest lap. Bottas was pushing too. Starting Lap 68, with three to go, he trailed Verstappen by 1.8-seconds.
All eyes are on the final corner with Verstappen emerging ahead by a mere 0.3 – seconds of Bottas. There had been a new fastest race lap set as well. It’s Lewis Hamilton, with a new outright fastest race lap – 1:16.627.
The Brit’s fastest tour was more than a second quicker than Bottas, an eye-watering 2.5 sec faster than Verstappen, and almost 4 seconds faster than Vettel.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll recovered to finish fourth, ahead of Alex Albon’s Red Bull. Vettel took sixth ahead of Sergio Perez for Racing Point. Ricciardo finished in eighth with Carlos Sainz finishing ninth. Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, whose team was judged to have aided their drivers over the radio on the formation lap of the race, dropped to tenth.