However, Ocon’s maiden victory didn’t come without any drama.
It was an eventful start to the race on Sunday, where five cars were knocked out during the first lap.
Competing in wet and slippery conditions, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas failed to brake correctly while attempting to overtake McLaren’s Lando Norris, running into the back of his car and causing him to slide across the track and collide with Verstappen — while Bottas himself crashed into Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Pérez.
Despite sustaining a severely damaged car, Verstappen pressed on, falling away from third to finish the race in 10th position.
But that wasn’t the only calamity on the track. Further back, Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll clashed with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who then collided with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Eventually, the race was red flagged due to a buildup of debris, and Bottas, Pérez, Stroll and Leclerc were all eliminated on the first lap. McLaren retired Norris during the race suspension, attributing their decision to the damage incurred to his car.
Once the race restarted, all of the remaining drivers pitted apart from Hamilton, whose car was the only one on the starting grid.
With 15 cars remaining, the fight for the checkered flag continued. Hamilton — who went into the race with a pole position and has won the Hungarian GP eight times — battled from the back of the grid to the podium.
The extra effort demonstrated by the British driver perhaps taking more out of him than usual as he had to see a team doctor after the race for “fatigue and mild dizziness.”
At the front of the pack, Ocon defended his lead against four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to win one of the most thrilling Hungarian Grands Prix of all time.
“What a moment. It feels so good. It’s the first victory since the Renault group came back into Formula 1,” Ocon said.
Ocon also paid tribute to teammate Fernando Alonso, who managed to keep Hamilton behind him for much of the race and give Ocon a chance to fight for first place. “What can I say? It’s fantastic, so congrats to Fernando as well because I think the win is also thanks to him with the fight that he did, his teamwork, all that. I think it’s been a fantastic day,” Ocon added.
Bottas, who was given a five-place grid drop for the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix and two penalty points on his license for the crash, acknowledged his error had caused “a mess.”
“I had a poor start,” said Bottas. “Wheelspin off the line, and lost places, and then braking into [the] first corner, I was right in the gearbox of Lando and I just locked the wheels.”
“So probably being that close didn’t calculate quite right the braking point, locked two wheels, hit him and then it was a mess,” he added.
“There’s not much to say is there?” Norris said afterward.
“It’s not my fault, like, to be honest, he [Bottas] just came over to me then and apologized — but apologies are nice, but it doesn’t change the result or anything, so it’s lap 1 of the race, no one has to do anything stupid but that’s what they did today. So just ruined it,” he added.
Despite his retirement from the race, Norris maintains in third place in the driver standings, while Hamilton and Verstappen swap places at the top of the leaderboard.
Esteban Ocon clinches maiden F1 victory and Hamilton retakes championship lead at eventful Hungarian Grand Prix