The defending champion overcame his loss of qualifying power and a spin thanks to expert tire management to complete his climb from 10th to victory and extend his points lead.
Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes 3-2 against first polesitter George Russell, who had led for 30 laps, while front row starter Carlos Sainz slipped to fifth ahead of Red Bull’s recovering Sergio Perez.
Meanwhile, early leader Charles Leclerc was the only leader, making three stops only to be passed twice by Verstappen and eventually dropped to sixth place.
Russell was put on a set of used softs to start on a dry track, with the raindrops that landed leading up to the race not initially developing into a full blown shower.
Thanks to the grippier rubber, the Mercedes started strong to get past the mid-sized Pirelli-shod Ferrari threat at Turn 1 and eventually cement first place.
Sainz had tried to bully it around the outside of the right-hander before the W13 clipped back at the apex, with the Scuderia then staying in formation with Leclerc in third.
Hamilton, on the other hand, managed to get past both Alpines behind Lando Norris in fifth place, while Verstappen drove his RB18 around the outside of Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo to quickly move up to eighth place after losing power in qualifying late in the third quarter.
Russell crossed the finish line at the end of the first lap 1.6 seconds ahead of Sainz.
After a fast virtual safety car was caught for Sebastian Vettel with Alex Albon, Russell added another second over pursuer F1-75 the next time around, while Leclerc was 1.5 seconds behind.
It wasn’t until lap 14 that the red-walled C4 Pirellis showed the first signs of deterioration for the W13, when Sainz ripped a 0.6-second chunk out of Russell, with the leading Ferrari needing to show enough pace to go prevent the pit wall from changing the order underneath intervention pressure from Leclerc.
With the red cars nose to tail, it looked like they would be split when Sainz was called upon to box at the end of lap 16, but he stayed out when Russell then came in for his first stop.
The polesitter was slowly traded to a set of medium after a delay at the front right to emerge side-by-side with Fernando Alonso, who cut back through Turns 2 and 3 to take sixth place.
A tour later, Ferrari responded. Sainz was called up to release Leclerc, but the Spaniard too was delayed with a 3.7-second center change to come decisively out from behind Alonso’s Alpine machine.
Leclerc was 11 seconds ahead of Hamilton before the Mercedes was called on lap 20.
Russell was therefore dismissed in second place, but 19 seconds down on leading Leclerc.
As the lap counter hit the high tens, Leclerc’s pace slowed. He was then stopped for a series of mediums in 2.9 seconds at the end of the 21st lap to put Russell in the lead.
The first polesitter was 2.6s clear of his Monaco pursuer, while Sainz was a further 1s down while champion Verstappen was fourth a further 3.5s away.
With the Ferrari handling the tight Hungaroring well all weekend, Leclerc was soon given the DRS overtake to close the gap and weld himself to the Mercedes gearbox.
Forced to defend, Russell pushed the F1-75 to the outside line wherever possible to maximize the distance Leclerc had to cover in the difficult-to-pass Budapest venue.
Then, on lap 31, Leclerc let it stick. Russell switched early to the inside line at Turn 1 to cover the Ferrari, but with DRS he squeezed tight into the braking zone first.
Leclerc immediately pulled seven tenths on the Mercedes and doubled that lead over the course of the lap, increasing the lead to 2.8s with Russel in third and Verstappen in fourth.
Verstappen made a crucial stop for Medium on lap 39 and despite sparks flying from the right rear corner he was serviced in a quick 2.4 seconds – encouraged by the radio message that “there’s still a long way to go”.
Verstappen came out sixth when Russel next time made a second stop for Medium and Leclerc then visited the garage for an ill-fated set of the hardest-to-get C2 Pirelli tyre.
After the Red Bulls passed Russell, the Ferrari returned in third behind Hamilton and Sainz on the slowest terrain, struggling to generate temperature to make him vulnerable.
Verstappen had DRS on Leclerc at Turn 1 to set the Ferrari off, the Dutch ace deftly opening his steering at the apex to force Leclerc to further compromise his line.
When the Ferrari regained power, he stepped out of line to let Verstappen frolic away.
But Leclerc got a second chance despite blowing up the condition of the tyres. Verstappen tried to squeeze the power out of the penultimate Turn 13 but spanned the rear wheels and spun.
He caught the Red Bull in 360 but not before the Ferrari sped past, although Perez limited the damage by blocking Russell and staying behind his teammate.
But by lap 43 Verstappen was again within a second of main Championship rival Leclerc and he cut back his RB18 at Turn 2 to retake position down the hill at Turn 3.
Ferrari called Sainz three laps later to relinquish the lead and a fiddly switch from back left to softs meant he was held for a slow 4.6s to give Hamilton a 6.4s lead over Verstappen.
Hamilton eventually made his second stop at the end of lap 51 to switch to soft tires and was fifth, 10 seconds behind Sainz, when Russell grabbed Leclerc – still struggling with the hard tyres.
The Ferrari broke away through the final corner to give Russell an easy run across the line for second place when Ferrari finally abandoned its strategy and was forced to make an extra stop.
The soft tires were screwed on but after leading he came back over 30 seconds behind Verstappen.
With Verstappen managing the mediums to the flag, including a late VSC for Bottas, who stopped at Turn 12 with a power loss aboard his Alfa Romeo, he clocked an unlikely win in 7.8s.
The Mercedes were the second fastest cars in the closing stages of the race, with soft-shod Hamilton beating Sainz on older tires and then his team-mate Russell into second place.
Although Russell complained that his tires had fallen off, Russell too had his legs on Sainz to take back-to-back 2-3 finishes for Mercedes, while Perez inflicted more pain on Ferrari in fifth place.
Leclerc’s extra pit stop put him in sixth ahead of Norris, who switched to hard tires to stay ahead of Alonso and Ocon’s Alpines by one stop.
Vettel recovered from early contact with Albon to take the final point in the updated Aston Martin ahead of teammate Lance Stroll, the Canadian was turned around after contact with Daniel Ricciardo, the McLaren driver who fended off the 5 second penalty.
Pierre Gasly crossed the finish line in 12th from a pitlane start after exceeding the engine allocation limit with an engine change on Saturday night.
Zhou Guanyu led Mick Schumacher and the reprimanded Ricciardo, while Kevin Magnussen hid to nothing after an early switch to the hard floors in the upgraded Haas before making two more stops.
Albon finished 17th ahead of FP3 pacesetter and Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi.
Yuki Tsunoda completed the finishers after spinning through the Turn 6-7 chicane from 17th to back as Bottas was the only driver to retire in the last race before the summer break.
|1||Max Verstappen||red bull||–|
|5||Sergio Perez||red bull||-15,688|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin/Mercedes||–|
|11||lance walk||Aston Martin/Mercedes||–|
|12||Pierre Gasli||AlphaTauri/Red Bull||–|
|13||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||–|
|19||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri/Red Bull||–|
|20||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||–|