Back where he be­longs


Win­ners like be­ing first and with his 48th vic­tory, Lewis Hamilton took the lead of the 2016 ti­tle chase

Grands prix at this sin­u­ous track out­side Bu­da­pest can de­liver slam-dunk thrills or pres­sure-cooker sus­pense, and un­til the lights go out you never know which you’re go­ing to get. The 2016 Hun­gar­ian GP turned out to be one for the purist, in which TV view­ers might be for­given for dis­miss­ing it as pro­ces­sional.

Nico Ros­berg claimed pole, con­tro­ver­sially, af­ter a stew­ards’ in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether he had backed off sufciently for yel­low ags on his pole lap, but Lewis Hamilton won the bat­tle to the rst cor­ner and drove the re­main­ing 70 laps un­der un­stint­ing pres­sure from his team­mate. Hamilton and Ros­berg traded fastest laps early on, but Hamilton was still able to cre­ate a mar­gin, lit­tle by lit­tle, nally creep­ing over the two-sec­ond mark, although he could never quite give his team-mate the slip. He al­ways had an an­swer to Ros­berg when it mat­tered, though, as demon­strated when he was hin­dered by Este­ban Gu­tiér­rez on lap 51 and slid wide at Turn 12 on lap 62. Both times Ros­berg closed in, but Hamilton im­me­di­ately danced out of DRS range, and his re­ward was the lead of the cham­pi­onship.

“It wasn’t the eas­i­est grand prix I’ve had here,” he said af­ter­wards. “But denitely one I en­joyed. And a great bat­tle be­tween the three of us.”

The third man this time was Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo. Like Hamilton, he had been frus­trated in qual­i­fy­ing af­ter du­ti­fully back­ing off for waved yel­lows (warn­ing of the ro­tated McLaren of Fer­nando Alonso) on his hot lap, only to see Ros­berg go pur­ple in that sec­tor and snatch pole. Af­ter a cu­ri­ously late in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the stew­ards deemed that Ros­berg had slowed sufciently when it mat­tered.

Ric­cia­rdo was a man on a mis­sion at the start. Both Mercedes got away to­gether, but it was Hamilton who edged it into Turn 1, su­per-late on the brakes and quelling a big twitch from the rear of his W07 Hy­brid as he claimed the in­side line. Ric­cia­rdo tried to go the long way, brak­ing deep into the cor­ner and al­most get­ting his nose ahead of Hamilton as they swung round to face

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