Hamilton escapes one of his “worst races” to extend championship lead in Hungary

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Lewis Hamilton escaped what he called “one of the worst races I think I’ve had” in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

Starting from pole position, Hamilton had his sights firmly set on a record fifth victory at the Hungaroring. After finishing fastest in every session over the weekend, it seemed that no-one could rival him for the race win.

However, a poor start saw the Briton drop to fourth off the line, and a lock-up on the first lap caused Hamilton to go off track to avoid hitting teammate Nico Rosberg. By the end of lap one, he was tenth.

Despite fighting back through the field to get within sight of race leader Sebastian Vettel under the safety car, Hamilton was forced to pit for repairs after hitting Daniel Ricciardo off the restart. He was also given a drive-through penalty for causing a collision.

With title rival Nico Rosberg running second, Hamilton looked set to not only finish outside of the points but also relinquish his lead of the drivers’ championship for the first time in 2015.

However, just as he began to fight back up the order, Rosberg suffered a puncture following a run-in with Daniel Ricciardo, causing the German to drop down the order.

Hamilton eventually finished the race in sixth place, and with Rosberg in eighth, the British driver extends his lead in the drivers’ championship to 21 points.

“That was a very tough afternoon,” Hamilton said. “The team did everything right and the car clearly had the pace – I just had a very bad day at the office.

“It was one of the worst races I think I’ve had and I don’t really have any explanation for it at the moment. All I can do is apologize to the team and work hard to make amends at the next race.

“I just made too many mistakes today. In the end, it’s damage limitation in terms of points for the championship so I just need to take the positives into the summer and bounce back in Spa.”

Hamilton was happy to accept the blame for the collision with Daniel Ricciardo that saw him receive a drive-through penalty, and explained how he remained calm to fight his way back up into the points.

“My start wasn’t ideal and the Ferraris were really quick off the line, so suddenly I was under attack from both sides,” Hamilton said.

“It was tight with Nico later in the lap where I locked up and went off, then of course there was the incident with Daniel. It wasn’t deliberate but it was my fault. He took a tight line around the outside and I just lost grip, ran out of road and understeered into him.

“That meant a drive through which dropped me right back again after all that work to make it back through. From there I just had to tell myself to calm down and not give up so I could fight back for some points.

“You could see in that phase that the pace of the car was really strong and the pace was really there all weekend.”

F1: Lewis Hamilton roars back from starting 14th to win German GP, regain points lead

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Heading into Sunday’s German Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton wasn’t given much of a chance after qualifying so poorly (14th) one day earlier.

But in one of the most significant rallies of the 2018 Formula One season, Hamilton roared back to not only win at Hockenheim, but also regain the lead in the F1 drivers championship standings at the halfway point of the season.

Ditto for Mercedes in the Constructors Championship.

“It was so tough out there,” Hamilton told Sky Sports/ESPN. “Conditions were perfect for business time. When it rained, I knew I’d have a good position, but you never know what’s going to happen behind the safety car.”

Despite rainy conditions for part of the race, not to mention wet overall conditions that caused a number of drivers to spin, Hamilton won the 66th race of his F1 career (44th with Mercedes AMG Petronas) in a time of 1:32.29.845 and took home 25 points for his fourth win of 2018.

It’s the furthest back a driver has come from back in the pack to win since Fernando Alonso started 15th and won the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008.

The win comes just a couple days after Hamilton re-signed with Mercedes AMG through the 2020 season, leading him to pay an immediate return on investment, so to speak.

“It’s obviously very, very difficult (to win) from that position and highly unlikely, but you’ve always got to believe,” Hamilton said. “I said a long, long prayer before the race started.

“When we did the parade lap, I could see how much support we had and I just wanted to stay collected and stay calm. The team did such a great job today, the car was fantastic, I’m so grateful.

“I would never have thought you could do something like that today, but I kept pushing and kept believing and it happened, so I really manifested my dreams today. Thanks to God.”

It was also the 125th F1 podium finish of Hamilton’s career.

To make the win even sweeter, Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished second, the first time in German GP history that homeland team Mercedes has finished 1-2.

It’s Bottas’ fifth podium of the season, all being runner-up finishes.

Kimi Raikkonen finished third, 6.5 seconds behind Hamilton, followed my Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg. For Raikkonen, it was his 28th podium since his last win.

Sixth through 10th were Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Marcus Ericsson and Brendon Hartley.

Kevin Magnussen finished 11th, followed by Carlos Sainz, Stoffel Vandoorne, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso was the last running car, finishing 16th.

Failing to finish (17th through 20th) were Lance Stroll, pole sitter Sebastian Vettel (who made a mistake and crashed), Sergey Sirotkin and Daniel Ricciardo.

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