Max Verstappen explains why he’s happy Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are getting quicker

Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished second and third, respectively, behind Max Verstappen in Budapest.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is more than happy to have Mercedes up on the podium if it means taking more points away from his title rivals Ferrari.

Verstappen started the Hungarian Grand Prix 10th on the grid after suffering from engine issues during qualifying, but recovered to win the race after a stunning performance.

The Dutchman passed Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap, before clearing the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, as well as McLaren’s Lando Norris.

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He stopped earlier than Sir Lewis Hamilton, who started seventh following his DRS failure on Saturday, and subsequently jumped the seven-time champion when he made his first stop onto Mediums.

Verstappen found himself right behind the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, and pitted for another set of Mediums, somehow inciting a reaction from the Scuderia.

Instead of sticking with the plan and sending Leclerc long on Mediums – which were already much fresher than those around him due to his late stop – they called him in for Hards, rendering him a sitting duck to Verstappen.

The reigning champion then cleared polesitter George Russell, who himself passed Leclerc, as well as Sainz to take the win in Budapest.

Hamilton also managed to pass Sainz towards the end as they both went onto Softs, before clearing his team-mate to finish second.

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Russell clung on to third meaning that, for the second race running, neither Ferrari made it onto the podium.

Leclerc too was brought in again late on, but he could not get his Softs to work for him, and he ended up P6 behind Sergio Perez.

In the press conference after the race, Verstappen joked that he enjoys seeing the Mercedes duo take points away from the Italian side.

“It’s good that they are competitive because they can steal more points from Ferrari, I’m very happy they’re doing very well,” he said in the press conference.

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Verstappen heads into the summer break with an 80-point lead over Leclerc, while his team hold a 97-point advantage over Ferrari.

Mercedes are now just 30 points behind Ferrari in the chase for second in the Constructors’ Standings.