BUDAPEST. It took reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen just seconds to establish his authority at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday and win his seventh consecutive race in a crushingly dominant season.
Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton started from pole ahead of Verstappen, who overtook him in the first corner and never looked back.
Red Bull’s 12th consecutive victory, including the 2022 final race, broke McLaren’s record for most consecutive team wins set in 1988.
“People forget how hard it is to win 12 races in a row, even if you have the fastest car,” said Verstappen. “Hopefully we can keep that momentum going for a long time to come.”
Verstappen is racing for a third F1 title in a row. His ninth overall win – along with another bonus point for fastest lap – means the 25-year-old Dutchman is already 110 points clear of Red Bull teammate Sergio Pérez after just 11 races.
McLaren driver Lando Norris finished second for the second race in a row and Pérez was third for a much-needed second podium finish in six races.
“If Max retires, then maybe [we can win]joked Norris. “We are pleased with the progress and the fact that we are where we are today, fighting for the podium. Our time will come later this year.”
It is difficult to say how many victories Verstappen will already have if and when that time comes.
Verstappen’s total career wins now stand at 44, the same number as Hamilton’s car.
“I hope I don’t stay at 44, that would be terrible,” Verstappen joked. “Hopefully I can get to 45 quickly.”
Hamilton started from pole for the first time since the 2021 penultimate race in Saudi Arabia when he won his record 103rd F1 race. Since then, he has not won.
He felt he had a chance after an impressive race in qualifying.
But Verstappen, who won here from 10th last year, overtook a sluggish Hamilton as they dove into turn one.
“We’ve had a really good start and I’m happy with that,” said Verstappen, who was involved in two heavy crashes with Hamilton during the 2021 drama season. “This corner was mine. Fortunately, everything worked out.”
Norris and Oscar Piastri’s McLarens also overtook Hamilton and dropped him to fourth place.
It was there that he finished the winding 4.4 km (2.7 mi) Hungaroring track, one of the most difficult to overtake in Formula One.
Daniel Ricciardo finished 13th for AlphaTauri after his return to F1 and beat teammate Yuki Tsunoda in 15th.
Pérez eased the pressure a bit, extending his lead in the standings over third-placed Fernando Alonso to 32 points.
“This performance, this race gives confidence,” said Perez, who started in ninth place.
Now Hamilton is only six points behind the Spaniard.
With a fourth-place finish at Silverstone, Australian rookie Piastri maintained his form with a solid fifth for an improving McLaren who scored a healthy 58 points over two races.
“We had the same pace as Mercedes, we just worked better,” said Norris. “Now three races with this update, three of which have clearly been more positive.”
As the race progressed, the Mercedes improved and temperatures cooled, allowing George Russell to pass Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. to finish sixth.
Sainz was seventh ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, who lost his place with a 5-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, while Alonso and Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten.
The Ferrari season is quickly turning into another failure.
Pit stop problems resurfaced when the team took almost 10 seconds to change Leclerc’s tires at his first stop. Compared to this, Piastri’s first result was lightning fast – 2 seconds.
Verstappen’s huge lead meant he was three seconds ahead of Pérez after the tire pitting on lap 24. Hamilton was worried that his Mercedes was too slow due to the lack of speed on the straight due to the heat. Pérez overtook Sainz on the inside and then shortly after Russell on the outside, moving up to fifth behind an exhausted Hamilton.
Hamilton blocked Pérez’s first attack on lap 42, so Red Bull called Pérez in for a tire change – 1.9 seconds in advance – to try to get past Hamilton. The move paid off on a good day for Red Bull.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with the whole team,” Verstappen said.
Luckily for Leclerc, his next stop took 2.2 seconds, but he ruined that good job with a penalty time.
Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon – 2021 winners – quickly retired after Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu pushed them into each other.
“To lose both cars on the first lap is just unfortunate,” Gasly said, while Okon said his car seat broke in half on impact.
Williams driver Logan Sargent was another driver who pulled out after a penultimate lap error.