Esteban Ocon posts first F1 win; Hamilton takes championship lead

Aug 1, 2021
PHOTO: AP

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Frenchman Esteban Ocon won a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday while Lewis Hamilton finished third to take the Formula One championship lead from Max Verstappen.

Verstappen placed 10th after being taken out early in the race by Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in a first-lap crash that caused him and four others to retire.

It was only the 24-year-old Ocon's second podium, following a second-place finish at the Sakhir GP in Bahrain late last year.

Ocon finished ahead of Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. fourth ahead of Ocon's teammate Fernando Alonso.

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    The race restarted in absurd fashion with only Hamilton on the grid, while others were changing their tires because the track had dried. Hamilton had to do the same a lap later and came out in last place, a couple of spots behind Verstappen.

    But a clever second tire change by Mercedes for hard tires on Lap 20 outwitted Red Bull and Hamilton moved ahead of Verstappen after he came in for new tires.

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    Now it was Verstappen's turn to feel frustration as he was stuck in 11th while Hamilton was already up to fifth by Lap 35 of 70.

    With 30 laps to go, the top four was Ocon-Vettel-Sainz Jr.-Hamilton.

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    To give Hamilton a shot at victory, Mercedes made a third tire change with a little more than 20 laps remaining.

    But he had to get ahead of the 40-year-old Alonso first, a driver with 32 wins, 97 podiums and among the most talented of his generation.

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    Alonso held off a first attack on Lap 55 and blocked him two more times on Lap 57 with stellar defending on the inside.

    Alonso's nous was enough to repel two more attacks as Hamilton was blocked again on the outside and they nearly collided.

    When Hamilton finally got past him there were only five laps left and Sainz Jr just ahead. He overtook him but by then the front two were too far ahead.

    Hamilton's bid for a 100th win resumes on Aug. 29 at the Belgian GP in Spa.

    Bottas will start that race with a five-place grid penalty for causing the accident.

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    PHOTO: AP
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