Lewis Hamilton believes his hopes of winning the Hungarian Grand Prix were lost in the opening stint and that he had the performance to fight with Max Verstappen for victory.
Qualifying issues for both Hamilton — who had a DRS failure — and Verstappen — who suffered a power loss — left them seventh and 10th, respectively, on the grid. Hamilton started on medium tires while Verstappen was on softs, with both two-stopping and ending on the opposing compound, but Hamilton feels he was on the wrong starting tire in hindsight.
“I would say probably going longer in that second stint, giving me the option to then go to the softer tire at the end,” Hamilton said. “That offset that I enabled myself to get…I think, probably, the race was lost with that first stint on the medium tire, but the second and third part of the race was pretty epic.
“We would definitely have been closer to Max, I would have thought [if starting on softs], but who knows — maybe I wouldn’t have been able to go the same distance on those tires. Who knows? If we had started where we should have started without the problem yesterday, I think we would have then been in a much better place to race Max today.”
That’s not to say Hamilton is unhappy with the result, saying Mercedes has shown it has an even more competitive car on Sundays to be able to beat the Ferrari drivers.
“It’s hugely satisfying. It’s a great feeling for us, given the year we’ve had and to see the progress we’ve started to make. Getting the second place was huge for us last week and this is now already two races in a row that George [Russell] and I have shared a podium, which is fantastic for the team, points-wise.
“To both finish ahead of the Ferraris is huge for us given the pace that they’ve had and for me, obviously, starting the race in seventh and getting up here is a great recovery. I think given the troubles we’ve had this weekend it shows we’ve got really great race pace.”