Max Verstappen takes his eighth victory of the season at the Hungarian Grand Prix

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Formula One champion Max Verstappen overcame a spin and his worst starting spot of the season to win the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday. His eighth win of the season pushed Verstappen’s lead to 80 points over Charles Leclerc as F1 enters its mid-season break.

Mercedes placed both cars on the podium for the second race in a row; Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton fought his way from seventh to second place, his team-mate and pole sitter George Russell finished third.

Carlos Sainz finished fourth in another disastrous day for Ferrari. Leclerc finished sixth, one place behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Verstappen’s eighth win of the season was the 28th of the Dutchman’s career.

“Who would have thought when we woke up today that we would get this result? Unbelievable,” Verstappen told his team, letting out a laugh. “I was fighting a lot of guys and it was a lot of fun there. It was a crazy race but (we) stayed calm and we won.

He qualified in the worst 10th of the season due to a loss of power on Saturday, then in Sunday’s race Verstappen made a 360 degree turn.

“Amazing Max, that’s up there with your best,” replied Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. “Fantastic.”

Russell, who started from pole for the first time in his career, led 30 laps until Leclerc passed him on the outside as dark clouds rolled over the Hungaroring circuit and a light rain began to fall.

With Leclerc in the lead, Verstappen undermined for faster tyres. Ferrari made a mistake choosing the more durable hard tires for Leclerc.

“These tires are (expletive),” said Leclerc.

Moments later, Verstappen lost his grip and spun down the track, allowing Sainz to take the lead from Hamilton. Leclerc passed Verstappen, only to lose position soon after as Verstappen had faster tyres.

“It was very difficult conditions, but we had a very good strategy,” said Verstappen. “We were very responsive, always pitting at the right time. Even with the 360, we still won.

Ferrari’s strategy problems just won’t go away. Leclerc saw two nailed wins disappear – at the Monaco GP and the British GP – after team calls dropped him from a commanding position to fourth.

Ferrari missed Sainz’s next tire stop on lap 47, taking too long to mount their left rear tyre. Hamilton stayed away but was losing time to Verstappen as the rain increased.

Leclerc, who crashed while leading the French Grand Prix last week, suffered a third tire change on lap 55.

Lando Norris was seventh for McLaren, Fernando Alonso was eighth and his Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon was ninth. Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel finished 10th.

After a one-month break, the season resumes with a hat-trick in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.

“To have both cars on the podium is really special for us. The other guys have an advantage, but we’re clearly closing the gap,” Hamilton said. “Hopefully we bring more in the second half of the season and start fighting with the guys up front.”

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly started from the pit lane after being penalized for several engine parts changes and finished 12th.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo showed some of his old form with a super double overtake on Ocon and Alonso nearing the halfway mark, celebrating with an exuberant expletive.

But Ricciardo wasn’t laughing later as the Australian driver was handed a five-second penalty for clipping Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and running it off the track. Ricciardo placed 15th.

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