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 sufciently 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 denitely 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 sufciently 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