Alpine driver Esteban Ocon won his first-ever Grand Prix in an incident-packed Hungarian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton (Driver’s Championship 8/13) now leads the title race ahead of Max Verstappen (5/4).
The drama began at the first corner – on a damp Hungaroring circuit, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas started slowly and locked up going into the first corner, nudging Lando Norris’ McLaren to cause a first lap melee.
Bottas, Norris, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll of Aston Martin were all forced to retire as the red flag came out for the second successive race.
Verstappen was also caught up with damage sustained to his car, and he dropped well down the order.
By the time the race restarted, the track had dried and most drivers dived into the pits to change to slick tyres.
Only Hamilton stuck with the intermediates, leading to the bizarre scenario of the race restarting with only his car on the grid.
Mercedes quickly realised they needed to get the seven-time world champion into the pits to change tyres and he slipped down to last place.
On a track notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities, Hamilton began to clear the backmarkers and was close to Verstappen.
Mercedes executed the undercut strategy as Hamilton got past the Dutchman and started to fight through the field.
Meanwhile, Ocon and Vettel were out in front as both drivers profited from the first lap carnage.
The four-time champion tried several times to overtake but could not manage to get past.
It was a brilliant drive by the 24-year-old who became the first Frenchman to win in a French car since Alain Prost in 1983.
Hamilton came home third and could have potentially won the race but for some brilliant defensive driving by his old team mate Fernando Alonso.
Verstappen endured a torrid afternoon and only picked up one point for tenth, finishing behind both Williams cars.
An overjoyed Ocon could not hide his delight during the podium ceremony.
“What a moment, it felt so good,” he said.
“We had some difficult moments this season but we overcame them together with the team. We came back to a fantastic place and victory today! What can I say, it’s fantastic.”
The topsy-turvy result means Hamilton tops the driver’s standings on 192 points, six clear of Verstappen with the season now taking its summer break before returning to Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix on August 29.