Verstappen secures F1 triumph in Hungary

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Max Verstappen won the Hungarian Grand Prix after another Ferrari strategy blunder cost Charles Leclerc a probable victory.

Verstappen crossed the line 7.8 seconds clear of Lewis Hamilton on Sunday, following a late surge from the seven-time world champion, with George Russell third.

Leclerc finished sixth and now trails Verstappen by 80 points heading into the sport's summer break.

Verstappen's victory was the 28th of the Dutchman's career.

"Who would have thought when we woke up today we'd get this result? Amazing," Verstappen told his team, letting out a laugh.

"I was battling a lot of guys and it was a lot of fun out there. That was a crazy race but (we) stayed calm and we won."

After overcoming 30 laps of pole man Russell's resistance to take the lead with a brilliant move around the outside of the Mercedes at Turn 1, Leclerc looked on course to take the chequered flag.

But the Monegasque's afternoon was wrecked - and his championship hopes dealt an almost irreversible blow - when Ferrari elected to put their star driver on the hardest rubber.

From being the fastest man on track, Leclerc suddenly had no speed, and he was gobbled up by Verstappen, who started 10th, at the start of lap 40.

Verstappen spun at the penultimate corner on the same lap to allow Leclerc back into the lead.

But such was his lack of pace on a strategy dismissed by tyre supplier Pirelli, Verstappen was back past the Ferrari, racing past his beleaguered rival at the second corner five laps later.

From there, Verstappen's eighth win of his championship defence never appeared in danger with a second title in as many years looking increasingly likely.

"It's of course a great lead," Verstappen said.

"But if you want to fight for championships, you can't afford many mistakes."

Russell led the opening half of the race but Carlos Sainz, who started second, nibbled at the Mercedes driver's gearbox through the opening corner.

Russell displayed great composure to keep the Ferrari man at bay, and he pulled 2.4 seconds clear after just three laps.

Sainz and Leclerc started to claw Russell back but after the first round of stops, Russell's lead remained at two seconds.

By now, Leclerc was past Sainz and finally got his man on lap 30.

Despite the threat of rain, that appeared to be that for Leclerc, only for Ferrari to make a bizarre strategy call.

Leclerc's team were to blame, with their star man having to stop for tyres one more time than his rivals.

He is now the equivalent of three wins behind with Verstappen with nine rounds to come.

Hamilton started seventh and for large periods of the race he was out of contention.

But with 19 laps remaining, Hamilton was in the lead when he stopped for the softest rubber.

He left the pits in fifth, but passed Sainz with seven laps left and then moved ahead of teammate Russell with five to run, finishing the race with the fastest lap.

Sainz crossed the line in fourth, one place ahead of Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

Australia's Daniel Ricciardo finished 15th.

With agencies

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