Pole-sitter Hamilton was passed by Verstappen at Turn 1 on the opening lap, and spent the first stint of the race trailing the Red Bull driver, ultimately falling 5.5 seconds behind after pitting.
Hamilton was then able to close up to Verstappen on the medium tyres, and was set to overtake before Mercedes called him in for a second pitstop.
With Red Bull committing Verstappen to a one-stop strategy, Hamilton was able to put his fresher tyres to good use, taking two seconds per lap out of the Dutchman to carve into the gap.
He ultimately overtook for the lead with seven laps remaining, clinching his third victory of the season in the process and moving 14 points clear at the top of the drivers’ championship.
“[It was] such a close start, obviously there was a little rubber down on the right-hand side and the Red Bull made a great start,” Hamilton said.
“Then I was just hunting, and I was so close for so long, and I didn’t think in doing that I was going to be able to make the tyres last.
“But I just managed to just keep them in somehow. And a long way to come from 20 seconds back. But it was a good gamble, really great strategy.”
Race Winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 crosses the finish line
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Hamilton thanked Mercedes’ F1 strategy chief James Vowles over team radio after taking the chequered flag, and explained that the team always planned to keep a set of mediums available in case it opted for a two-stop strategy.
“The plan all weekend to make sure we had two mediums, to be able to do a two-stop,” Hamilton said.
“Even though one-stop potentially looks better, I know from experience here that a one-stop is very, very hard to pull off. And as soon as we had the pace that we had, I knew as soon as I could get past him if I could.”
Hamilton closed to within half a second of Verstappen on lap 42, and looked set to pass on the main straight before being called into the pits for his second stop.
The seven-time world champion admitted that he was torn over whether to ignore the call so he could overtake Verstappen or not.
“I was about to get, I think, a shot to get past him before I pitted him right at the end,” Hamilton said.
“I was really conflicted: do I come in or do I ignore the call and stay out? I did what the team, asked and that’s because there is great trust between us.
“It was a remarkable job by everyone in this team. What a day!”