Defending WDC takes championship lead
Lewis Hamilton put on a dominant performance in this year's Hungarian Grand Prix. Despite being constantly pursued by team mate Nico Rosberg, the Briton had enough of a margin to lead the race the moment the five red lights went out. The win makes Hamilton the new championship leader with Rosberg behind by six points.
Qualifying pole was Nico Rosberg with Lewis Hamilton alongside him. Daniel Ricciardo sat in P3, just one-tenth behind the new championship leader in qualifying. Hamilton had a better start than Rosberg and took the lead by the first turn. Ricciardo attempted to take second from Rosberg but the latter was able to defend his position. Meanwhile, Jenson Button suffered mechanical issues and fell victim to the new team-driver radio rules and was handed a drive-through penalty afterwards. He eventually retired from the race due to an oil leak.
Further back, a scrap between Red Bull Racing team mates was forming with Ricciardo defending third place against Max Verstappen. The duel allowed Rosberg to sit comfortably in second place while Hamilton was ahead by over two seconds from his team mate. Ferrari had opted to perform an undercut pit strategy with Sebastian Vettel coming in first, followed by Raikkonen on the next lap. The strategy proved effective as the Ferrari drivers got ahead of Verstappen. Raikkonen, who had started the race in 14th, was now in the top five, making up nine places as the first round of pitstops were completed.
Another round of pitstops and the top three were still unchanged with the two Mercedes-AMG drivers being far ahead of Ricciardo. Vettel also had a secure spot in fourth place with no cars challenging him. At this point, Raikkonen and Verstappen had switched places and the Finn was doing all he can to reclaim his top five spot. Hamilton's lead was briefly challenged when he faced lapped traffic. Esteban Gutierrez was in Hamilton's way, allowing Rosberg to close the gap by as little as three tenths of a second. When Gutierrez finally acknowledged the blue flag, both Hamilton and Rosberg flew past the Mexican with the leader giving the now lapped driver a not so friendly gesture. Gutierrez was later penalized for his actions.
As the race drew on, the fight for fifth was heading up with Raikkonen inching the nose of his Ferrari closer to Verstappen's rear wing. Raikkonen attempted several dives as Verstappen went into full defense, hugging the inside line and going wide on exits, preventing the Ferrari driver from gaining momentum. The fight heated up right up until the two made contact. Raikkonen was faster on exit and Verstappen veered to the right to defend his position. Verstappen then juked back to the left under braking, forcing Raikkonen to take evasive action but it was too late, he was coming in too fast. Raikkonen clipped his front wing on Verstappen's tire which sent bits of carbon fiber into the distance. The Finn then went into a tirade, cursing Verstappen for the move. Stewards did not penalize Verstappen for the block.
The final ten laps were smooth sailing for the rest of the field as Hamilton crossed the line almost two seconds ahead of Rosberg. Ricciardo finished third, followed by Vettel. Verstappen hung on to fifth, much to the frustration of Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso finished a strong seventh while Carlos Sainz Jr. finished eighth. In ninth was Valtteri Bottas and taking tenth was Nico Hulkenberg.
As mentioned above, Hamilton's win helps him take the championship lead. Ricciardo's third place finish moves him up to third in the standings as well. Strong finishes from Red Bull Racing close the gap between them and Ferrari as they sit just one point behind in the constructor's championship.