Lewis Hamilton has beaten Max Verstappen by three thousandths to take his ninth pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver ended his nineteen months wait for a pole position as he managed to improve on his final attempt in Q3 as the Red Bull driver struggled to find grip on his final attempt.
Hamilton return to the front row sees his longest wait between his last pole in Jeddah 2021, he will look to convert that pole into his ninth win in Budapest which will make him the first driver to win a Grand Prix nine times. The Englishmen thanking the team for there hard work.
Verstappen will likely remain the favourite for victory, Red Bull have looked like a rocket ship all season and will look for his ninth win of the season. The Dutchman looked on course to take another pole, but he was a tenth off on his first run in Q3, he then failed to improve on his last attempt.
Despite not taking pole Verstappen, believes the Red Bull upgrades for this weekend have worked. But says has struggled for balance and that he believed the team “haven’t nailed it this weekend”.
Lando Norris put his McLaren third continuing to underline the progress made by the team, beating teammate Oscar Piastri by two tenths of a second. McLaren’s upgrades in recent races has seen them come alive midway through the season and could join the battle with Mercedes and Aston Martin
Norris had gone fastest on the first run in Q3 with a 16.904, that was soon beaten by Verstappen who was nearly three tenths faster then Hamilton then separated the two going second. Then on the final run Hamilton took advantage of Verstappen’s poor first sector and go fastest, leaving the McLaren driver to rue his mistakes, he believes it cost him the chance of pole.
Hamilton said, “It’s been a crazy year and a half. I’ve lost my voice from shouting so much in the car! It’s amazing that feeling. I feel so grateful to be up here because the team have worked so hard. We have been pushing so hard over this time to get pole. It feels like the first time.
The qualifying format was tweaked as part of an ‘alternative tyre allocation’ trial, where only hard tyres could be used in Q1, medium tyres in Q2, and softs in Q3, which yielded a competitive qualifying session. Norris was just over two tenths faster than his teammate Oscar Piastri, despite the Australian setting the best middle sector.
The revised format resulted in a frantic Q1 and Q2, in Q1 Hamilton, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris and Russell all found themselves in danger at various points but it was last year’s pole sitter Russell who made the early exit.
The Mercedes driver found himself in a traffic jam, his position not helped by Norris overtaking him in the final corner of his preparation lap as Russell looked to build a gap to team-mate Hamilton ahead. On his last timed lap he had a poor opening first sector and that lead to Russell having his worst qualifying in Budapest.
Russell explained, “I got overtaken by four cars going into the last corner, starting my lap. I was three tenths down before I got to Turn 1, the tyres were nowhere and it was totally normal that we went slower and didn’t make it through.”
Guanyu Zhou was fifth nearly six hundredths faster than Charles Leclerc, as the Ferrari driver spilt the two Alfa Romeo’s. Leclerc only made it through to Q3 after improving on his final lap in Q2, that resulted in his teammate Carlos Sainz missing out by two thousandths of a second on a place in Q3. The Monacan four hundredths ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
Last year, Sainz had joined Russell on the front row, but missed out by two thousandths of a second being knocked out by Fernando Alonso. The two-time campion eighth, going a hundredth ahead of Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.
Sainz couldn’t improve on his final attempt, with the lap times evolving very quickly the Ferrari driver found himself pushed to eleventh. He was knocked out by his teammate Leclerc, who on his last lap in Q2 jumped from thirteenth to sixth, safely getting through to Q3.
Perez is said to be under pressure after Red Bull’s junior team replaced Nyck de Vries with Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo in his first qualifying for Alpha Tauri (Toro Rosso) since Sao Paulo 2013, was thirteenth out qualifying teammate Yuki Tsunoda.
Ricciardo twice improved his best time late in Q1 to avoid the drop zone and beat Tsunoda by just over a hundredth, to get into the second segment, then finishing ahead of Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
Through out the weekend Ricciardo has steadily built up and was a hundredth faster than Yuki Tsunoda, that got him into Q2, while Tsunoda was knocked out in Q1. He then beat Stroll and Gasly to go thirteenth.
Alex Albon was fastest of those knocked out in Q1, the Williams driver going two thousandths faster than Yuki Tsunoda. Russell was ahead of Kevin Magnussen, and Logan Sargeant.