Verstappen away in front, Hamilton passes Bottas!
Lap 13/70 Verstappen is driving his Red Bull really smartly here, maintaining his lead without hammering his car into the ground.
Lap 12/70 Verstappen and Hamilton streak away, but it’s pretty tight everywhere else, with 20 seconds separating Sainz in fifth from Giovinazzi in 18th.
Lap 11/70 In 16th place, Ricciardo is gliding pleasantly, passing Stroll. Next in his sight: Kevin Magnussen.
Lap 10/70 Bottas is lapping faster than anyone at the moment, and his team reckon he can get sixth place. Meanwhile, Hamilton closes the gap a little, to 2.128s.
Lap 9/70 I wonder what Hamilton’s strategy is here. Does he look to go in before Verstappen, or after? Turns out he’s asking his team how he can close the gap, and is told that he’s losing time at turns 5 and 13.
Lap 8/70 Already, this looks like a two-horse race. Verstappen and Hamilton are way faster than the rest, but there is, of course, plenty of scope for stuff to go wrong. Leclerc is really struggling here, losing pace all the time, but he’s still two seconds ahead of Vettel, after home come Sainz, Norris, Raikkonen and Gasly.
Lap 7/70 Meanwhile, Hamilton stretches clear of Leclerc, nearly 5.5s ahead of him now. Verstappen still leads, by 2.364.
Lap 6/70 Bottas pits and comes back on 49.202s off the lead; that was not great work from his team.
Lap 5/70 We see that Leclerc hit Bottas rather than the other way around but Bottas stays out for at least another lap. Most drivers will be planning a one-stop strategy, so it’s not the end of the world for him, but gives him enormous work to do to if he’s to hang onto second place in the overall standings; currently, he leads Verstappen by 22 points.
Lap 4/70 Verstappen leads Hamilton by 2.237s and Leclerc is 5.356s off the front.
Lap 3/70 Bottas will pit for a new front wing – that’ll take him all the way to the back of the field. So our leaderboard reads:
Lap 2/70 Gosh, that start went badly for Bottas, whose car is in all sorts of nick. He collided with Leclerc, locked twice, and now he’s fifth, because Vettel has passed him too!
Lap 1/70 And off we go, Verstappen bousting clear, and Hamilton goes too, alongside Bottas! They’re three abreast before Verstappen pulls away, then Hamilton and Bottas fight, allowing him further ahead, then Hamilton goes second as Bottas damages his front wing and Leclerc takes him out too!
A bit of cloud cover has taken 4 degrees off the track temperature as the cars line up.
Bottas is semi-fighting to keep his seat for next term. He’ll probably find out before the next race at Spa, so could use a decent showing here before the summer break.
Lance Stroll reckons it’ll be a challenging race given his starting position and the difficulties in overtaking on this track. He’s hoping others have problems.
Max Verstappen is relaxed, and says that everything is warm. It’s just about anthem time.
Anthony Mackie is in the house.
“Do you like racing?”
“You’re a man of few words.”
It was cooling down on the track, but the sun’s back out now and Martin Brundle is hot and bothered. I’m not certain a pink shirt was wise.
Max Verstappen is phenomenally chill. His cap is problematic, but he thinks he and his team can resolve their starting issues. If he’s ahead going into the first turn, he’ll be in phenomenal shape to stay there.
Pole is a much bigger advantage this week than last; overtaking is not easy in Hungary, though the track should quicken up as the race intensifies.
Hungaroring might just be the greatest track name. Like the Central African Republic, it does what it says on the tin.
Tell you what, today’s little jaunt will have to go some to get near last week’s effort at Hockenheim. But thanks to Hockenheim, our season is revitalised and suddenly anything looks possible.
Max Verstappen is an absolute freak of nature, in his fifth season as an F1 driver at the age of 21. And he might just be on the cusp of realising his phenomenal talent, following last week’s win at Hockenheim with pole for today’s race; it might be just too late for a run at this year’s drivers’ championship, but another win will put the rest on notice.
Behind Verstappen on the grid, Valtteri Bottas will still fancy his chances of catching Lewis Hamilton, who leads him the overall standings by 39 points. Hamilton has looked in decent shape this weekend, but was left chastising his car for its inability to get him round at requisite pace – though he’s hopeful it’ll be where it needs to be for the race.
Start: 2.10pm BST, 3.10pm local time.