Hamilton says first-lap slump in Hungary ‘didn’t matter’ as Mercedes remain ‘long shot away’ from race win


Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes simply “didn’t have the pace” to fight for victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix, regardless of a tricky first lap that saw him drop from first to fourth position.

Hamilton ended his two-year pole position drought with a stunning qualifying performance at the Hungaroring, but lost out to Red Bull rival Max Verstappen and the McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris in the space of a few corners.

READ MORE: Verstappen dominates Hungarian GP to give Red Bull a record 12th successive win

While he managed to re-pass Piastri as the race developed, the seven-time world champion had to settle for fourth at the chequered flag after Sergio Perez rose from ninth to third in the other Red Bull.

2023 Hungary Grand Prix: Verstappen snatches the lead into Turn 1 as Hamilton drops to P4

Reflecting on the race, and his start, Hamilton began: “I fell back… I hit the target that I was supposed to go to but just had wheelspin, then I was under attack all the way to Turn 2.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t have the pace to hold onto those guys [Red Bull and McLaren] anyway.”

READ MORE: ‘What we’ve been doing is unbelievable’ – Verstappen hails ‘incredible’ moment as Red Bull make history with F1 victory sequence

Despite enjoying a stronger final stint and cutting the gap to third-placed Perez, he continued: “Honestly, there wasn’t a lap that I enjoyed driving the car today, because the car didn’t feel good today at all. For some reason we just generally lacked pace.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 23: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas

Hamilton was unable to turn his 104th pole into a 104th race win

“It did get better towards the end but still it was pretty tough. I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch Sergio, or at least [get past] a Red Bull, because they’re obviously so quick.

“You live and you learn; yesterday was a good day and we’ll take the positives. But we’re a long shot away from winning at the moment.”

WATCH: Alpine suffer early double-DNF as Ocon and Gasly collide amid Turn 1 melee

In the other Mercedes, George Russell bounced back from his shock Q1 exit to cross the line in seventh, which turned into sixth when Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.


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