Max Verstappen has conceded that he could not see victory on the horizon after qualifying for the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman suffered from a loss of power ahead of his final run in qualifying on Saturday, putting him 10th on the grid for the race.
He got a good start as he cleared the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas, before clearing both Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
The reigning champion followed Sir Lewis Hamilton through past Lando Norris, and he decided to pit early for Mediums to clear the Mercedes.
He duly did so, and caught up to the back of Carlos Sainz, who was closing down on George Russell after the 24-year-old had been overtaken for the lead by the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen pitted to get the undercut on the drivers in front of him, and both Mercedes and Ferrari reacted by bringing Russell and Leclerc in respectively.
The Scuderia decided to put Leclerc on the Softs, while Russell took another set of Mediums – as did Verstappen – although the Dutchman managed to clear the polesitter.
The Ferrari had no pace on the Hards, so Verstappen was fairly comfortably able to catch and pass Leclerc, before losing the place immediately afterwards when he span at Turn 13.
He recovered once more, and passed Leclerc once again to take third behind Sainz and Hamilton, who had gone long on their second stints.
Sainz pitted for fresh Softs, but he too had little pace as he tried to catch Russell, before Ferrari brought Leclerc in for Softs after realising that the strange call to put him onto Hards had not worked.
Verstappen won by nearly 10 seconds from Hamilton as the rain fell at the end, while Sainz failed to make any in-roads on Russell, and Leclerc ended up P6 after failing to gain time on the hapless Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Ferrari’s considerable pain was Verstappen’s gain, but the 24-year-old did not see that being the case after qualifying 10th.
“Not really,” he said, candidly when asked if he expected to be on the top step of the podium.
“I was of course hoping that I could get close to a podium but very tricky conditions out there, but I think we had a really good strategy.
“Really reactive and always pitting at the right time, I think we had some good out laps, and then at the end even with a 360 we won the race!”
The now 28-time race winner divulged the reason for his spin having passed Leclerc for third on track.
“I was struggling a bit with the shifts and the clutch, and we had to change a few things around to not basically burn the clutch,” explained Verstappen.
“And that cost us a bit of performance and I think that caught me out, out of that corner but luckily I could so a 360 so I only lost one spot.”
Verstappen had a lot of fun on Sunday after battling several drivers.
“It was very good with a lot of… I was battling a lot of guys so it was a lot of fun out there,” he added.
Verstappen looked to the big screen as he was speaking with David Coulthard and said he was aware of the fact that Leclerc had very little pace on his Hards.
“He was struggling on the hard tyres so we had a good run out of…” he saw his spin on the screen and joked “heating up the rear tyres!”
“It was a crazy race and very happy that we won it.”
Plenty of Dutch fans are expected to flock to the Belgian Grand Prix after the summer break, so Verstappen was asked if he will be taking a caravan over there and camping out with them.
“I mean, that’s what a normal Dutchie would do, right?” he joked.
“Maybe I should get back to it.”
Verstappen now holds an 80-point lead over Leclerc after Ferrari threw away another race win, with Leclerc affirming that he needs to sit down and “understand with the team” why they chose to pit him for Hards, rather than send him longer into the race after Verstappen’s stop.