For the fifth time in his F1 career, Lewis Hamilton has emerged victorious in the Hungarian Grand Prix by easing out his Mercedes teammate and pole-winner Nico Rosberg. In the 11th meeting of this year’s F1 calendar on Sunday, Hamilton’s win has taken him on top of the drivers’ championships standings for the first time. The British driver started from the second place on the grid and took the lead from Rosberg quite early in the race. Barring a few close occasions during the last 10 laps, Hamilton drove ahead of Rosberg for another familiar 1-2 finish for team Mercedes. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took the third place on the podium to disappoint last year’s winner Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth in his Ferrari. Though the official proceedings came to an end, acrimonious relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg came to the fore in a post-race press conference, in which Hamilton accused his teammate for violating yellow-flag rules during Saturday’s qualifying. Sitting side by side, world’s two best F1 drivers chose to spew venom on one another. Hamilton said stewards were wrong in exonerating Rosberg and allowing him to retain the lap-time, despite the German refusing to slow down on seeing double wave of the yellow flag. Rosberg had his own sarcastic version in reply and the Team Mercedes management was put in some avoidable embarrassment.
After winning the F1 races in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, Lewis Hamilton has now logged his fifth victory at Budapest’s Hungaroring race track. Besides leaving his teammate Nico Rosberg at second place, Hamilton has also overtaken him in championship leaderboard with 10 more races remaining in the 2016 F1 Calendar. But Sunday’s main event began in the backdrop of previous day’s qualifying drama, in which Rosberg apparently committed a racing offence before winning the pole. Many drivers thought Rosberg’s pole victory was contentious since his fastest lap-time came after he ignored the yellow flags at Turn 8, where McLaren’s Fernando Alonso had spun. Rather than slowing down, Rosberg maintained his momentum and took the pole from Hamilton. The waved yellow flag is the next highest form of caution before deployment of the safety car. Three hours after the qualifying finished, stewards decided to investigate the incident but allowed Rosberg to keep his lead. The incident rattled Hamilton so much that he made a big issue out of it in a post-race interview after his victory. With Rosberg’s exoneration from the infringement, the starting grid had Rosberg and Hamilton in first row; two Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen on second row; Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr on third; McLaren Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button on fourth and the fifth row had Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas.
On race day, Lewis Hamilton lost no time in getting past Nico Rosberg. The 70-lap race was run in scorching Hungarian heat, a far cry from the last few meetings, where the drivers had to contend with wet-and-dry tracks. Just as the lights went out, Hamilton and Ricciardo both overtook Rosberg at turn 1. Though Rosberg passed Ricciardo soon, he still remained behind Hamilton. By 5th lap, Hamilton had gained 1.6 seconds on Rosberg while Ricciardo, Verstappen and Vettel made up the top 5. Hamilton went to pits in lap-17 and when he came out, Rosberg had taken the lead. However, that was not to last long as Rosberg also needed a pit stop in lap-18 and Hamilton’s lead was quickly restored. At halfway mark, the top five were; Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Verstappen and Ricciardo. The two Mercedes drivers went for the second pit stops in laps 41 and 42 and when they came out, Hamilton’s lead over Rosberg was a little over 2 seconds.
However, Rosberg’s chase on Hamilton was relentless and after lap-53, he was merely a half-second behind the Brit. Then came some speed from the eventual winner as he went into extra gear and by lap-56, he led Rosberg by almost 3 seconds. The German is nothing if not a fighter. In one big push, he went past Hamilton with 6 laps remaining. It was a now a cat-and-mouse game. Within the next two laps, Hamilton restored his lead and enhanced his speed. For Hamilton, it was merely a question of keeping the lead, howsoever small it could be. He did it in style and reached the chequered flag earlier than his teammate to register his fifth victory at Hungaroring. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took the third spot on the podium to leave Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at fourth place. The other Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was fifth; Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen sixth; McLaren’s Fernando Alonso seventh; Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr eighth; Williams’ Valtteri Bottas ninth and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg finished 10th ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez.
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