Mercedes led more laps of the Hungarian Grand Prix than the rest of the season combined – but it was a red-letter day for Max Verstappen who started 10th but survived a spin to secure one of his most impressive wins of the season ahead of the charging Lewis Hamilton.
A shower on the last lap threatened to spoil his party, but the Dutchman tiptoed around the track to take the chequered flag despite Hamilton’s best efforts. But it was still a superb drive from the seven-time world champion, who took the fastest lap after starting seventh while pole-sitter George Russell had to settle for third.
As for Ferrari, it was another wretched day as both drivers failed to challenge for the podium. Charles Leclerc in particular had his race ruined by another tactical blunder, as they switched him on to hard tyres which he could not get working and it cost him a top-three finish.
Russell held the lead after the first few corners but was under intense pressure from the Ferraris who had fired up their tyres well. Hamilton and Verstappen also got off to a great start, as they gained two places each within just a few seconds.
It was a less positive situation for Alex Albon, who picked up damage in the early melee which forced him to pit on the first lap. It meant he fell even behind Pierre Gasly, who started from the pit lane after AlphaTauri made unsanctioned changes to his engine.
After a brief virtual safety car period, Russell got a jump on Sainz and Leclerc behind him to move more than two seconds clear and prevent the Ferraris from getting the benefit of DRS. The leaderboard made for great reading for British fans, with Russell, Norris and Hamilton all in the top five.
As the Mercedes man moved past his compatriot, though, the lurking Verstappen took advantage and also slipped by Norris and into fifth, before Sergio Perez also overtook. He was still ahead of the two Alpines, though, with Fernando Alonso growing ever more frustrated as he felt he was faster than team-mate Esteban Ocon ahead of him.