Championship leader Sebastian Vettel earned his twenty-third career pole position for Red Bull Racing, denying McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton to the top spot for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The margin between Vettel and Hamilton was really close – only 0.163 seconds – with Vettel’s lap of one minute, 19.815 seconds good enough to earn the champion pole at the Hungaroring.
Competing in his two hundredth Grand Prix, Jenson Button will start in third for McLaren ahead of the Ferrari duo of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. This is the first time that Massa has out-qualified his Scuderia team-mate this season.
Last year’s winner Mark Webber could only manage the sixth quickest time, ahead of the Mercedes-powered cars of Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Michael Schumacher. As for Sergio Perez, the Sauber driver elated not to run in Q3 to save a set of option tyres for the race. Perez will start in tenth position.
There was a gap of almost two seconds from first to tenth with a couple of minutes of Q2 remaining, the result of which was that the top seven at that moment – led by Jenson Button – did not undertake second runs.
All of those drivers had done enough to make it into Q3, but behind them the order was constantly changing. Late laps for Sutil and Schumacher brought the Force India and Mercedes drivers into the top ten after the chequered flag had come out.
The biggest loser was Force India’s Paul di Resta, who was bumped back to P11. The Renaults of Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld were P12 and P14, split by Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber, while Rubens Barrichello and Jaime Alguersuari were next up for Williams and Toro Rosso.
The star of Q1 was Heikki Kovalainen, who put his Lotus in an impressive P19 and just over 0.1 seconds behind Sebastien Buemi.
Behind Kovalainen were his team-mate Jarno Trulli, Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock and the Hispania drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo.
Even though Sebastien Buemi recorded the eighteenth fastest time, he will drop five places on the grid following his collision with Nick Heidfeld at the Nürburgring last weekend.
Qualifying times from the Hungaroring:
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m19.815s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m19.978s
3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m20.024s
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m20.350s
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m20.365s
6. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m20.474s
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m21.098s
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m21.445s
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m21.907s
10. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari No time
11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m22.256s
12. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.284s
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m22.435s
14. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m22.470s
15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m22.684s
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m22.979s
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth No time
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m24.362s
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m24.534s
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m26.294s
21. Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m26.323s
22. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m26.479s
23. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.070s*
24. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m26.510s
107 per cent time: 1m27.288s
*Five-place grid penalty