Hungarian GP: Lewis Hamilton rues missed win chance but warns rivals that Mercedes are closing the gap

Lewis Hamilton believes he could have fought for the Hungarian GP victory without his qualifying issues but still praised Mercedes after his on-merit second place and insists they’re closing the gap to their rivals.

Hamilton started only seventh on Sunday after a DRS issue ruined his final lap of qualifying, with team-mate George Russell going on to take pole.

But the seven-time champion still came back to finish second behind Max Verstappen – who also enjoyed a brilliant comeback from 10th – and he believes he had the pace to win for the first time this season.

“If we had got our lap yesterday we would have been on the front row, and it perhaps would have been a different result,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

“If the DRS was OK we would have been in the run for the win.”

Hamilton made a strong start, up two places on the first lap, before biding his time and then unleashing furiously fast pace on the soft tyres, overtaking Carlos Sainz and Russell late on.

That made it consecutive second-place finishes for Hamilton, while he has five straight podiums – a clear sign of Mercedes’ progress after such an uncharacteristically slow start to the season.

That made it consecutive second-place finishes for Hamilton, while he has five straight podiums – a clear sign of Mercedes’ progress after such an uncharacteristically slow start to the season.

“We have found something and we have been able to get a little bit closer and been able to compete with the Ferraris,” said Hamilton. “I honestly think in a straight out race we might not be that far behind Max.

“So I am really excited about the second half of the season and proud of my team for not giving up.”

He added: “I really want to acknowledge my team who have pushed and never given up in this tough year so far.

“To be on the podium, for both cars to be on the podium twice, it is pretty special for us and really unlucky for George today.

“The other guys still have a bit of an edge but we are clearly closing the gap and this is just an amazing way to go into the break knowing that we have this performance.

“Hopefully we can bring some more into the second part of the season and start fighting with the guys up front.”

Toto Wolff hailed Hamilton’s drive as “unbelievable” as the Mercedes boss said “he was a little bit in the shadows, nobody really looked at where he came from and then suddenly, he was putting in times quicker than the leaders.”

“I think Lewis in Budapest, that is a success story and I think we lost the race for him yesterday,” added Wolff.

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