Hamilton had ‘pace to win’ in Hungary without DRS issue

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, chases Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes. Hungary, July 2022.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, on the tail of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes. Hungary, July 2022.

Had it not been for a problem with DRS in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton felt he had the pace to win the Hungarian Grand Prix.

George Russell had put his Mercedes on pole position in a surprise turn of events, Hamilton managing only P7 on the grid.

It turned out the cause of Hamilton’s lowly position had been a problem with DRS during Q3, but the signs remained positive after Mercedes’ strongest performance in qualifying this season.

A switch to soft tyres for Hamilton for his final stint of the race proved an inspired choice.

With Ferrari’s decision to put Charles Leclerc onto hard tyres backfiring, another stop for softs dropped him behind Hamilton, who then passed Carlos Sainz and Russell as he went on to finish an impressive P2.

Hamilton expressed his gratitude to the Mercedes team over the radio after crossing the line, revealing he had felt the pace was there to win the race if his starting spot had not been so severely hampered.

Max Verstappen won the race with a margin of just under eight seconds over Hamilton.

“Great work lads, what a result for the team, so happy for you all and so grateful to you all,” said Hamilton on the team radio.

“Would have had the pace to win it if we hadn’t had that DRS issue.”

Speaking in his initial interview after exiting his Mercedes W13, Hamilton said: “With a bit of a better qualifying, [if] the DRS was okay yesterday, we would have been in the run for the win.

“But either way, two second [place finishes] in a row, I’m really really happy.”

Rain closed in as the race reached its final stages, the intensity not enough to trigger a switch to inters, but it was starting to intensify.

Ultimately the chequered flag came just in time for Verstappen to secure the win, but if the heavier bursts had arrived while the race was still ongoing Hamilton felt that would have given him a chance at challenging for the win.

Asked if it is significant that cooler conditions allowed the W13 to come into its working window, Hamilton replied: “I definitely think being a little bit cooler seemed to work a bit better for us.

“I can’t tell you exactly why, but grateful for it. I was hoping it would rain at the end so I could challenge Max, but we ran out of laps.”