Lewis Hamilton said that once he was pushed wide by Max Verstappen at the Hungarian GP start, from there the door was open to McLaren too in a nightmare opening lap.
Hamilton upset the odds on Saturday at the Hungaroring to claim his record-extending 104th career pole, setting him up for what would be a record-breaking ninth victory at the venue if he could pull it off.
As it turned out though, Verstappen and Red Bull were the ones dabbling in breaking records, Verstappen passing Hamilton at the start and winning with his biggest margin of the season, 33.731 seconds over McLaren’s Lando Norris, to break McLaren’s long-standing record with a 12th victory in succession.
Lewis Hamilton claims Max Verstappen pushed him wide
While Hamilton’s getaway off the the line “wasn’t the worst I’ve had”, Verstappen was able to take P1 away from his former title rival, who was then compromised out of the opening turn as McLaren duo Oscar Piastri and Norris also made their moves.
Hamilton then was down from P1 to P4 in a race start that nightmares are made of.
“The start actually, the initial getaway wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had, but it obviously wasn’t as good as Max’s,” Hamilton told Sky F1.
“Had a bit of wheelspin and then obviously Max was on the inside and he ran me wide and I got done by the two McLarens. So definitely not a great start, kind of reminiscent of 2015 when I fell back from first.”
Hamilton from there struggled to keep up with that new leading trio, taking to team radio several times to make his disgruntlement known as McLaren pulled away, even asking at one stage whether Mercedes had turned his engine down?
Hamilton’s final stint though brought about a sudden pace surge, the seven-time champ re-passing Piastri and just running out of laps to challenge Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for the final podium spot. P4 then was his final finishing position.
“And then after that just didn’t have the pace to keep up with the guys,” Hamilton continued.
“The balance in the car was pretty awful on that first stint, a lot of understeer and oversteer through corner balance and I just couldn’t keep up with them.
“So then, bit by bit as we got through the next couple of stints, the car started to become more drivable, and then the last stint obviously was much better.
“If we had had the pace we had at the end, we would have been a little bit better I think through the day.
“But I’m going to take the positives from yesterday, amazing effort from the team to get to where we were and to beat everybody in qualifying was really spectacular for us, and obviously shows that whilst we don’t have the best car, it was an incredible lap.
“And we have a lot of work to do. We’re a long way away off beating the Red Bull in a race. And obviously now we’re behind the McLarens, but we still keep pushing.”
On the other side of the Mercedes garage it was a fantastic recovery drive from George Russell, who went from P18 on the grid to P6 at the chequered flag.