2019 Hungarian GP: Hamilton vs Verstappen

What a great battle we saw between the veteran, Lewis Hamilton, and the youngster, Max Verstappen. How did the race unfold for both of them, you know, from a number’s perspective? The stats will tell us the story. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Overall race

Note: The solid lines show an average regression based on adjacent lap times. This means that a line that is higher on the chart, means that on average, that driver was slower than his counterpart.

This is one of the most even battles we have seen this season so far. Until lap 25, when Max stopped for new tires, there is pretty much nothing separating both drivers.

We can see how Max took advantage of his first pit stop, racing hard and lapping faster than Lewis, however, the Britishman responded with the same medicine after his pit stop in lap 31.

Even though Lewis caught up to Max, he could not overtake him, and Mercedes rolled the dice. Lewis stopped once again in lap 48, and while the first laps after his stop were not encouraging, Lewis turned up the pace once again. In lap 57, Lewis started to dominate, putting fast lap after fast lap together. In lap 63, it was game over for Max. His tires were shot. His lap times increased by almost a second, and he had no tools to defend against the multiple World Champion.

Delta per lap in common

From the beginning of the race, until lap 25, there is almost no difference in pace between both drivers. Technically, Lewis was potentially faster since he was racing in dirty air, but at the end of the day he could not overtake the young dutchman. During that period, Lewis averaged 1:21.842 seconds per lap, while Max had a pace of 1:21.864 seconds per lap. A mere difference of 22 milliseconds per lap in favour of Hamilton.

After Lewis’ second stop in lap 48 is where the race was decided. From lap 50 until lap 66, Lewis was an average of 1.108 seconds per lap faster than Verstappen. Let’s take a more detailed look at the gap between both drivers in the next chart.

Gap at the end of the race

During the first 3 laps after Lewis came out of the pits, he was 1.07 seconds faster per lap than Max Verstappen. That trend did not continue for long however. The next 4 laps, Lewis managed to outpace Max by only 0.137 seconds per lap. Was Verstappen pushing? As we can see from the first chart, no, Verstappen only maintained his pace, so we can only assume that Lewis was saving the tires for the end of the race.

After lap 56, it was hammer time for Hamilton. He started to cut the gap by an average of 1.27 seconds per lap until lap 62, and after that Verstappen just ran out of rubber. The next 3 laps, Lewis outpaced Verstappen by an average of 2.28 seconds per lap. By then, Mercedes knew that they had the race in their hands.

Final remarks

People have wondered if Max Verstappen is already better than Lewis Hamilton. That is something that I do not know, but what I do know is that yesterday’s battle is one of the many to come between both drivers.

Verstappen did a great race. He drove to the limit of the car, and did not make a mistake during the race. Lewis and Mercedes were just too fast, and they were lucky that they were able to get a free stop in order to challenge for the win. Credit where credit is due though, the strategy paid off, and the Mercedes team should be proud of their performance during the day.

If you enjoyed this analysis, please share it with your friends, and let me know what you think in the comments below.


  1. Jabu

    I have been reading your posts for a while now. Great analysis as always, thanks and keep going.

    I think during the 4 laps in which Lewis outpaced Max by only 0.137 it was because he was in traffic and lapping the back markers whereas Max was in clear air. Once Lewis was in clear air, he was able to drive at his pace potential. That was blistering pace from Mercedes and suggest they are still moving in the right direction with their upgrades.

    • admin

      Thank you for the nice comment Jabu.

      Agreed, Lewis had to overtake some traffic, but I do believe that he managed his tires properly since he was told that he would catch Max at the end. He had doubts about the state of his tires by that time, so I do believe that he tried to conserve them for a bit.

      Mercedes was just too fast, simple as that. Lewis was not able to overtake Max during his second stint just because a) it is the Hungaroring, it is not easy to overtake there, and b) driving in dirty air has massive negative effects in car performance. The reality is that in a track with slightly more overtake opportunities, he would have been able to get 1st place without having to try an alternative strategy.

      Max has been taking the spotlight due to his fantastic performances, but Lewis has been as good as he has always been. Unless something really strange happens during the season, Lewis should be taking home another World Championship. No disrespect to Bottas, but I just don’t think that he has enough in the tank to defeat Lewis.

  2. Maks

    This is the kind of content I enjoy the most! Thank you for your efforts! Amazing job, keep it on!


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