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Record fifth Hungary win sends Hamilton to the top

2016-07-24 17:11

TAKING THE LEAD: Lewis Hamilton snatched the lead on the first lap and dominated throughout a spectacular 2016 Hungarian GP. Hamilton now leads the Drivers' Championship. Image: Zsolt Czegledi / MTI via AP

Budapest - Defending champion Lewis Hamilton produced a trademark triumph of pace and panache to win the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix  ahead of his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg and replace him as leader of this year's world title race.

Hamilton outpaced pole-sitter Rosberg at the start and then controlled the 70 laps with a mixture of speed and flawless judgement in sweltering heat at the Hungaroring circuit.

His victory completed a hat-trick of successes in consecutive races, was his outright record fifth in Hungary, his fifth of the season and the 48th of his career.

As it happened: 2016 Hungarian GP

Rosberg finished second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, four-time champion Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and teenager Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull.

Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the second Ferrari ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso of McLaren and Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso, Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Nico Hulkenberg who was 10th for Force India.

Hamilton's win increased his points total to 192, six more than Rosberg as Ricciardo moved up to third.

"Awesome race Lewis, mega result," said his Mercedes engineer on team radio. "Well done mate. Fantastic drive."

Hamilton responded generously. "As always, thank you guys, so much, for your had work all weekend. This is a great result for the team."

Hotly-contested start

After the deluge in Saturday's qualifying, the race began in searing heat with air temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 52 degrees.

Hamilton made a flawless start to pull alongside Rosberg while Ricciardo surged forward on the outside in the run up to Turn One.

As they turned in to the descending right-hander, Ricciardo attacked and briefly led before Hamilton responded as the front five squeezed through a sweeping trio of corners.

Rosberg, pushed back to third, fought back and emerged from the opening tussle back in second place ahead of the two Red Bulls, but struggling to match the pace of the defending champion.

Seeking his third consecutive victory of the season and the championship lead for the first time, Hamilton was also aiming for an outright record fifth Hungarian triumph.

By lap 15, he was 2.5 seconds clear and the two Silver Arrows were falling away, more than six seconds adrift.

Hamilton pitted shortly after, leaving Rosberg to lead, but the German came in a lap later as Hamilton returned to the front.

Behind him, after 25 laps, Rosberg was just 1.1 seconds away and Ricciardo, third, only 5.4 seconds adrift, ahead of the two Ferraris, led by Vettel.

Ricciardo threat subdued

By lap 34, the leading 'train' had closed up and Ricciardo was threatening Rosberg, a scenario that forced Mercedes to warn the leader to go faster - or face the German pitting before him.

Unflustered, Mercedes stayed calm, Hamilton found extra pace and made his second pit stop on lap 42, followed by Rosberg, on lap 43, the duo retaining control, separated by 4.3 seconds ahead of Ricciardo, who was back to third and 8.3 seconds away.

A phenomenal and fast out-lap from Hamilton put him in charge with Rosberg in pursuit, trimming the gap as he made best use of his fresh rubber.

By lap 51 it was 1.8 seconds before Hamilton was held up when Esteban Gutierrez ignored blue flags. The stewards swiftly announced an investigation into the Mexican's driving.

This left Rosberg only seven-tenths behind, but Hamilton responded with a fastest lap to re-open the gap to 1.1 seconds and soon extended it to 2.9 seconds.

Ricciardo was more than 10 seconds away in third ahead of Vettel when, after 57 laps, Raikkonen clipped Verstappen's rear right wheel as he attempted to jink by him in vain, losing bits of his Ferrari front wing in a shower of debris.

With 10 laps to go, the chase was on, but Mercedes remained comfortably clear in their personal duel well ahead of Ricciardo's Red Bull.


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