Lewis Hamilton heaped praise on Mercedes for the “bold” and “risky” strategy gamble which helped to win him the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The world champion took a giant stride towards closing out a sixth title by moving 62 points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas with his eighth win of the year.
Max Verstappen had looked on course to claim his third triumph from four races following a faultless display by the impressive young Dutchman.
But Mercedes caught Red Bull off guard when they switched Hamilton to an aggressive two-stop strategy, ensuring he would end the race on fresher rubber than his rival.
Hamilton was set the daunting task of wiping out Verstappen’s 21-second lead in 21 laps. But the fired-up Briton reeled the Red Bull car in and then passed Verstappen at the opening bend with three laps remaining to seal the 81st win of his career, strengthening his hold on the title race.
“It felt like a big gamble for us,” said Hamilton, who questioned his team’s strategy call on the radio.
“Before the second stop I felt I had the pace on Max and that I would have a few attempts at passing him.
“It felt like the steepest wall to climb, but you have to put complete faith in the team. I had to eliminate all doubt and question marks from my mind and go for the best laps I could do without dropping any time.
“It was bold and a risky strategy call, but collectively we made it happen. It was exceptional by the team.”
A day to remember. Thank you to everyone in my team for their unwavering support throughout these 7 years. Here we had our first win together in 2013 and today we did it again. To #teamLH I love you guys, so grateful for the constant unconditional love #grateful 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/KmzCpigv3x— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) August 4, 2019
Hamilton’s drive to glory was captured by the cameras of Netflix, who were provided access to the Mercedes garage for the closing stages of Sunday’s race.
After refusing to take part in the opening series of the Formula One documentary, ‘Drive to Survive’, Mercedes threw open its doors to Netflix at their home race in Germany last weekend.
But the Silver Arrows endured a horror show at a rain-hit Hockenheim, with Hamilton crashing from the lead. Bottas also failed to finish.
Mercedes had planned to allow Netflix access at just one race this year, but the film makers were invited in to the garage in Hungary to document Hamilton’s triumph, bookending a whirlwind week for the 34-year-old Briton and his team.
The behind-the-scenes footage will feature in the second season which airs next year.
Hamilton said: “I don’t like to look at today as redemption. I don’t make a lot of mistakes and the last race was a massive off-weekend for me.
“But going into the summer break, this win provides a great lift for the team, particularly after the difficult last weekend.”
Hamilton will now have four weeks to recharge his batteries ahead of the push to clinch a title that will take him to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven. The action resumes at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps on September 1.
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