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Formula 1: Chequered Flag - Hungarian GP Review

Max Verstappen has extended his lead at the top of the Drivers Championship to 80 points after the Red Bull ace won Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

The world champion endured a difficult Saturday, struggling with engine issues, and could only qualify in 10th place.

However, he put in an extremely mature drive, aided by a perfect team strategy, to glide through the field and ease to victory at the Hungaroring in Budapest.

Lewis Hamilton secured second place, having started in seventh, while Mercedes team mate George Russell, who began on pole, had to settle for third.

Sunday's showpiece brought the season to its summer break with the next Grand Prix set to take place in Belgium on 28th August.

Verstappen sailing towards title

Last season's title battle went down to the wire with Verstappen famously sealing his maiden Drivers Championship crown at the expense of Lewis Hamilton in controversial fashion.

It looks like it's going to be a much more comfortable run to the championship in 2022 after Sunday's win saw Verstappen pull 80 points clear of Charles Leclerc with nine races left.

Sunday's triumph was Verstappen's eighth this campaign and he looks set to surpass his season-best tally for victories, having won 10 in 2021.

Verstappen showed incredible pace in Hungary, executing his overtakes without hesitation as he went past Leclerc twice, while he timed his two pit-stops to perfection.

The Dutchman had never previously won at the Hungaroring, finishing ninth last term with his previous best performances coming when he claimed second in 2019 and 2020.

He can be backed at 1/12 to win the Drivers Championship with Leclerc, who has two race victories to his name, available at 15/2.

Red Bull are also well on track to scoop to the Constructors Championship for the first time since 2013 after opening up a 97-point lead over Ferrari.

Sergio Perez, who is third in the drivers' standings, added a further 10 points to his tally on Sunday following a fifth-place finish.

Mercedes starting to build momentum

Mercedes have yet to pick up a race victory in 2022 but they do appear to be moving in the right direction after podium finishes for Hamilton and Russell in each of the last two Grands Prix.

Russell vowed to "absolutely go for it" after qualifying on pole while Hamilton, like Verstappen, had work to do after starting from seventh on the grid.

The team's early season struggles, which saw Hamilton pick up just one podium finish in the opening eight races, are seemingly a thing of the past and they will hope to keep improving when returning from the summer break.

Russell will have been disappointed to slip from pole to third but Hamilton's climb through the field to earn second place might have lessened the blow.

Hamilton was, understandably, downbeat earlier in 2022 but his recent performances have led to a more optimistic outlook for the rest of the season.

He said: "I want to acknowledge my team. We've had a tough year and for both cars to be on the podium is an amazing way to go into the [Summer] break.

"I was hoping it was going to rain at the end so I could challenge Max [Verstappen] but we ran out of laps. If the DRS had been okay yesterday we'd have been in [a fight] for the win.

"Two seconds [places] in a row, I'm really happy so a huge thank you to the fans for all the amazing support."

There is still plenty of time left in the campaign for the pair to climb the standings with Russell, who sits fourth, just 20 points adrift of Leclerc while Hamilton is sixth, only 12 points further back.

Mercedes look extremely unlikely to land the Constructors title for the ninth successive season but they trail second-placed Ferrari by just 30 points and have momentum on their side.

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Ferrari starting to fade

The new regulations shook up Formula 1 from the start of 2022 with Ferrari emerging as potential title contenders for the first time since Sebastian Vettel finished second in 2018.

They celebrated two victories in the opening three races, both claimed by Leclerc, but have struggled to maintain those high standards, winning only two more two between the Monegasque and team-mate Carlos Sainz.

With Verstappen starting from 10th, Ferrari had a major opportunity to make up some ground on the defending champion but they blew their chance.

Opting to send both drivers out on hard tyres from their second pit-stop was a call that ultimately proved costly for the Scuderia.

Leclerc lacked grip when he returned to the track in third and he was soon passed by Verstappen and, rather than trying to hang on, he had to pit again for softs with 17 laps remaining.

But it was too little too late as he made no further progress and ended up sixth behind Red Bull's Perez, while Sainz didn't fare much better when coming home fourth.

The summer break will be a crucial period for Ferrari as they look to try and cling on to second place in the Constructors Championship.

Norris maintains edge over Alpine

The midfield battle between McLaren and Alpine continues to rumble on and will likely run through to the end of the term.

Alpine are fourth and four points clear of McLaren in the Constructors Championship with Lando Norris seemingly battling Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon on his own.

Norris has picked up 76 of McLaren's points this season with team mate Daniel Ricciardo bringing in an underwhelming 19.

Ricciardo was disappointing again on Sunday, dropping six places to finish in 15th, but Norris held his nerve to end the day seventh, coming home ahead Alonso and Ocon in eighth and ninth respectively.

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