Lewis Hamilton. Picture: REUTERS
Lewis Hamilton. Picture: REUTERS

Budapest — Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position for Mercedes on Sunday to go into the August break with a 24-point lead over Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel was runner-up, 17.1sec behind, and survived a late collision with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, who also banged bodywork with Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

Ferrari, mourning the death of former chairman Sergio Marchionne, had Kimi Raikkonen finish third to complete a podium of champions on a dry and sweltering afternoon at the Hungaroring outside Budapest.

The victory was Hamilton’s record sixth in Hungary, fifth of the season and 67th of his career. In a race effectively decided by Saturday’s wet qualifying, when Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid against expectation, Hamilton was never challenged.

"We came here knowing Ferrari would be really quick this weekend, so to come out with these points, we’ll definitely take it as a bonus," said Hamilton. "I’m really happy with how strong it’s come in the last couple of races."

After 12 races, Hamilton has 213 points to Vettel’s 189.

Tyre strategies were crucial at the twisty circuit, where overtaking is always difficult, with temperatures hovering around 50°C. Vettel started on the softs and went for a longer first stint than Mercedes, worried by Ferrari’s quick getaways, which opted for ultrasofts that were quicker at the start but faded more rapidly.

Lining up in fourth place on the grid, Vettel grabbed third from Raikkonen immediately but could not find a way past Bottas, who slotted in behind Hamilton as a defence against the red threat. "We were out of position. I think we could have gone with Lewis today with the race pace," said Vettel.

Raikkonen, without water during the race after Ferrari forgot to connect the bottle, made two stops and agreed third — his fifth successive podium finish — was the best he could have hoped for in the circumstances. "We caught up with Bottas after the first stop but there was no chance to overtake. So our option was to stop again and try again," said the Finn.

"I think we had pretty good speed today. But what can you do? Sometimes it’s like that, but you take the points and go on to the next one."

Reuters