Sports: Spin and win: Verstappen rallies to eighth win of F1 season

United F1 drivers determined to help kick out abusive fans

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Formula One champion Max Verstappen overcame a spin and his worst starting spot of the season to win the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday. His eighth win of the season pushed Verstappen's lead to 80 points over Charles Leclerc as F1 heads into its midseason break.

  Spin and win: Verstappen rallies to eighth win of F1 season © Provided by The Canadian Press

Even though his advantage keeps increasing, Verstappen is not thinking ahead.

“It’s of course a great lead,” he said. “But if you want to fight for championships, you can’t afford many mistakes.”

Mercedes placed both its cars on the podium for the second straight race; seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton carved his way from seventh to a second-place finish, teammate and pole-sitter George Russell was third.

Verstappen wins French GP as Leclerc crashes, Hamilton 2nd

  Verstappen wins French GP as Leclerc crashes, Hamilton 2nd LE CASTELLET, France (AP) — Max Verstappen won the French Grand Prix on Sunday after Charles Leclerc crashed out while leading, a mistake that dropped the Ferrari driver 63 points behind the defending Formula One champion. Verstappen’s seventh win through 12 races this season upped his career total to 27 victories, all with Red Bull. “I think we had really good pace from the start,” he said. “But it was unlucky for Charles. I just did my race.” Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton finished second in his 300th grand prix — his fourth consecutive podium and highest finish in what's so far been a winless season — while teammate George Russell passed Sergio Perez of Red Bull following

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished fourth in another disastrous day for Ferrari. Leclerc was sixth, one spot behind Sergio Perez of Red Bull.

Verstappen's eighth win of the season was the 28th of the Dutchman's career.

“Who would have thought when we woke up today we'd get this result? Amazing,” Verstappen told his team, letting out a laugh. “I was battling a lot of guys and it was a lot of fun out there. That was a crazy race but (we) stayed calm and we won.”

He qualified a season-worst 10th because of a loss of power on Saturday, then in Sunday's race Verstappen did a 360-degree spin.

“Unbelievable Max, that is right up there with your best,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner replied. “Fantastic.”

Russell, who started from the pole for the first time in his career, led 30 laps until Leclerc passed him on the outside as dark clouds rolled over the Hungaroring circuit and a light rain began to fall.

Stott HR, 5 RBIs help rally Phillies to 6-4 win over Braves

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With Leclerc leading, Verstappen undercut for quicker tires. Ferrari made a mistake in choosing the more durable hard tires for Leclerc.

“These tires are (expletive),” Leclerc said.

He later explained that he thought it was the wrong call.

“I made it clear that I wanted to keep (the medium tire) as long as possible, but we pitted very early for the hard, which we need to understand why. I think stopping for the hard was the turning point," Leclerc said. “Before thinking about the championship, to be honest, as a team we need to understand what we need to do to get better. Because otherwise it’s going to be really difficult."

Moments later, Verstappen lost grip and spun on track, allowing Sainz to take the lead from Hamilton. Leclerc passed Verstappen, only to lose position soon after because Verstappen had faster tires.

“It was very tricky conditions out there but we had a really good strategy," Verstappen said. “We were really reactive, always pitting at the right time. Even with the 360 we still won."

Verstappen understands rival Leclerc's emotional outburst

  Verstappen understands rival Leclerc's emotional outburst BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Max Verstappen understood why Charles Leclerc was so hard on himself after crashing last weekend, and the reigning Formula One champion feels it's healthy for Leclerc to let his emotions out. Leclerc looks to bounce back at Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix after putting his Ferrari into the barriers while leading the French GP. That error gifted Verstappen a win to open up a huge 63-point lead in the overall standings. Leclerc screamed “Noooo!” and said he didn't deserve to win a world championship driving like that, leading observers to question if he was beating himself up too much.

Recalling the spin, Verstappen said: "I went on throttle and completely lost the rear, it caught me out.”

Ferrari's strategy woes just won't go away. Leclerc has seen two nailed-on wins disappear — at the Monaco GP and the British GP — after team calls dropped him down from a dominant position into fourth place.

Ferrari botched Sainz's next tire stop on Lap 47, taking too long to fit his rear left tire.

“It always feels like there’s always something going on, reliability, mistakes, whatever,” a clearly frustrated Leclerc said.

Hamilton stayed out but was losing time to Verstappen as the rain increased.

Leclerc, who crashed when leading the French Grand Prix last week, came in for a third tire change on Lap 55.

Ferrari's strategy calls even confused Verstappen.

“I think Ferrari chose their wrong tires in their final stint before they pitted again,” Verstappen said. “Ferrari was very fast, they just made the wrong call with the hard tire (for Leclerc).”

Lando Norris finished seventh for McLaren, Fernando Alonso was eighth and his Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon was ninth. Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin was 10th.

Ex-F1 race director Masi says he received death threats

  Ex-F1 race director Masi says he received death threats BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Formula One's former race director Michael Masi has described the abuse he received on social media following last season's controversial call at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won his first world title after overtaking Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on the last lap following a heavily disputed restart procedure. Hamilton led comfortably until a crash by Nicholas Latifi brought out the safety car with five laps remaining.

Vettel, who won his four F1 titles with Red Bull from 2010-13, is retiring at the end of the season, by which point Verstappen may well have beaten his F1 record of 13 wins in a season from 2013.

After a month-long break the season resumes with a triple header in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.

“For both cars to be on the podium is really special for us. The other guys have an edge but we’re clearly closing the gap,” Hamilton said. “Hopefully we’ll bring more into the second half of the season and start fighting with the guys at the front.”

Russell pointed out how, not so long ago, Mercedes was lagging way behind Red Bull.

“We were finishing one minute behind, and now we’re 10 seconds back,” he said.

Verstappen also has good reason to welcome the resurgence of Mercedes.

“It’s good they’re competitive,” he quipped. “It means they can steal more points off Ferrari.”

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly started from the pit lane after being penalized for multiple engine-part changes and finished 12th.

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo showed some of his old form with a great double overtake on Ocon and Alonso approaching midway through the race, celebrating with an exuberant expletive.

But Ricciardo wasn't laughing later on as the Australian driver got a five-second time penalty for clipping Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and sending him off track. Ricciardo placed a lowly 15th.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press

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