Hamilton & Verstappen Duke It Out at 2019 Hungarian GP
The 2019 Hungarian GP was a two-man show as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battled for victory for almost every one of the 70 laps.
On Saturday, Verstappen had captured his first-ever Formula One pole position, becoming the fourth youngest pole sitter in F1 history despite having over 90 races under his belt. It also marked the first pole position for a Honda-powered car since the manufacturer’s return to F1.
The young Dutchman got away well and fended off Hamilton on multiple occasions, managing to stay ahead throughout the first — and, for most drivers, only — pit phase. Eventually, the two drivers were so far ahead of everyone else that they had bought themselves a free pit stop and Mercedes decided to take the gamble: put Hamilton on the quicker tire and hope he can catch up and pass Verstappen by the end of the race.
Related: A look back at the history of Honda
Because Mercedes pulled the trigger first, Red Bull couldn’t react. Even if they had pit Verstappen on the lap after Hamilton’s stop, he would have come out behind. Verstappen would therefore have to try to make his tires last while maintaining enough speed to prevent Hamilton from catching up before the end of the 2019 Hungarian GP.
Hamilton was skeptical about the strategy but in the end made it work. He took the lead on the start of the 67th lap, at which point Verstappen’s tires were too far gone to mount a proper defense. In second place, Verstappen finished a whopping 61 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who had done a great job beating his teammate but would have probably preferred to have a more competitive car.
Everyone else was lapped, including Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, who had an unfortunate incident with Charles Leclerc on the first lap. Had Verstappen won the race, he would even have passed Bottas in the championship standings, demarking himself as Hamilton’s main title challenger. Though one could argue he still is.
Related: Make your pit stop at the right time and place
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Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.