Ocon wins spectacular Hungarian Grand Prix as Hamilton retakes title lead

Rain and chaos at the start of the race shuffles the pack in Budapest

Sunday, 1st August 2021, 4:39 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st August 2021, 4:42 pm
Esteban Ocon wins in Hungary

Esteban Ocon claimed his first Grand Prix victory at a lively and enthralling race in Hungary on Sunday, which also saw Lewis Hamilton reclaim the lead of the championship ahead of the summer break.

The 24-year-old Frenchman, driving for Alpine, started eighth on the grid when the track was damp after an earlier downpour, but kept his nose clean as a crash in front of him helped eliminate several front runners.

Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes crashed into the back of Lando Norris' McLaren, which then in turn collected both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Another incident between Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc also saw Daniel Ricciardo involved in the melee.

Bottas collided with Norris, and then Verstappen and Perez at the start

During the red flag period, the track dried significantly, and fans trackside were left with the bizarre scene of Hamilton lining up on the grid on his own as the rest of the cars pitted for dry tyres. Ocon inherited the lead when Hamilton pitted a lap later and resumed from the back of the pack.

Hindered by his damaged car, Verstappen limped around the towards the back too, with Hamilton stopping for a second time to get the jump through the field and put him in contention for a podium.

Ocon meanwhile was doing a sterling job to keep Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin behind, with the German remaining within two seconds for the whole race and he harried for the lead.

Hamilton's fight through the field saw him pit yet again and could have snatched victory in the closing stages but got stuck in a thrilling battle with old foe Fernando Alonso, who celebrated his 40th birthday during the weekend.

It meant despite eventually passing the Spaniard and then Carlos Sainz's Ferrari, Hamilton had to settle for third, but the spoils went to Ocon.

"What a moment!," he said. "It feels so good! It's the first win for the team for a long time. We've had a lot of difficult moments, but we've come back with fantastic pace. What can I say?! It has been a fantastic day!

"In difficult moments, when you're struggling, going out in Q1 and finishing P17, they put a lot of trust in me, but it shows what hard work can achieve.

"I wish everyone was here - I will fly early tomorrow morning and I'll have a great Monday, let me tell you!"

Vettel, claiming Aston Martin's best finish of the season, admitted he was frustrated not to win for the 54th time in his career.

He said: "I'm a little disappointed, I felt I was faster for the race but Esteban didn't make a single mistake. I pushed really hard but he stayed on and it's well deserved to take his first victory. It's a great result for us, but when you're that close, it's disappointing not to get the win.

"I had a bad start but it turned out to be the best place to be. I took the inside line where it was clean and I saw empty track and it made our race really.

"I pushed so hard, I tried to push him into making a mistake but it's so hard in the middle sector to keep close. He did really well."

Hamilton's podium means he claimed the lead from Verstappen in the championship, with the Dutchman taking 10th and a single point.

Hamilton said: "Huge congratulations to Alpine and Ocon - he's been a shining star or a long time. And to Aston Martin, who have a lot more to come, this is their best result.

Today was tough, we made it difficult for ourselves. It was crazy to think we were the only ones on the grid, but we'll learn from it. I was telling the team how the track was during the lap but they said the rain was coming. I saw everyone diving in, but never mind.

"I'm pleased to take the lead of the championship. Considering the circumstances today, I'll take it."

Sainz managed to hold off compatriot Alonso for fourth, ahead of Pierre Gasly in sixth with the fastest lap and Yuki Tsunoda completed a double score for Alpha Tauri. Williams celebrated their first points since the German Grand Prix in 2019 with Nicolas Latifi in eighth and George Russell in ninth, holding off Verstappen in tenth.