Alpine's French driver Esteban Ocon won the 36th Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Hungaroring on Sunday. It was the 24-year-old driver's first career victory.
At the rainy start, defending champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) got away from pole position, but his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas misjudged the first braking distance, causing a pile-up: his car slid into Lando Norris’ McLaren that then pushed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who ended his team-mate Sergio Pérez's race in the first corner. Lance Stroll tried to take advantage of the collision, but the Aston Martin driver also misjudged the corner, pushing out both Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren).
Due to the debris build-up in the first corner, a 20-minute break followed before a new start for which five drivers – Stroll, Leclerc, Bottas, Pérez and Norris – were unable to line up.
The sun was out for the restart at the Mogyoród racetrack, so although the jury ordered a standing start, only Hamilton was on the grid, with all the other drivers following the safety car into the pit lane for their tire change. The defending champion had to wait for the red lights to go out, as required by the rules, before he could start, but he was at a considerable disadvantage as the others were allowed to come back after the tire change and the Briton had to come out a lap later – when everyone was already on the move – to get dry tires and follow the field.
After this rarely seen Mercedes blunder, Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) were in the lead in this order, with Verstappen in 13th position and Hamilton in 14th.
Hamilton set a succession of fastest laps on the increasingly dry track, and was eighth by the third of the race, while Verstappen, with his damaged car (the result of a clash with Mick Schumacher), was unable to overtake Ricciardo from 12th position. Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) moved up to third in the leaderboard, with compatriot Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) behind him. Hamilton was a second quicker than everyone else and was fifth at the halfway mark – the main question was whether his tires would hold out to the finish or whether he would have to pit again. Up front, Ocon and Vettel continued to race, but Ferrari ordered Sainz to the pit, leaving two-time world champion Alonso to come up to third position.
On lap 48, Hamilton was brought out for another tire change, losing just one place. On fresh tires, he caught up with third-placed Alonso six laps later, but the two-time world champion fought off the Briton's attacks: Hamilton was only able to overtake him on lap 64, but he lost so much time behind Alonso that he was no longer a threat to the leaders.
In the battle for first place, Ocon held on to his one-second advantage over Vettel until the finish to celebrate his first career Formula 1 victory. Vettel and Hamilton finished behind him, the latter taking the overall lead as his great rival Verstappen, the current leader, finished tenth in his damaged car.
It was reported after 10 p. m. on Sunday that Sebastian Vettel has been disqualified from the Hungarian Grand Prix, losing his second place. According to an official statement, stewards were unable to take the required amount of fuel from his car for sampling following the race.
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