Hamilton heads Mercedes front row at the Hungaroring

Lewis Hamilton heads up a Mercedes front row in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, with title rival Max Verstappen ending up in third position behind Valtteri Bottas.

The Mercedes and Red Bull cars will head into the race on split tyre strategies after Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez – who missed setting a final Q3 lap at the back of the queue as the Red Bulls trailed behind the slowly touring Mercedes drivers on the final warm-up lap – used the soft tyres to set their best times in Q2, where Hamilton and Bottas got through on the mediums.

After Verstappen had topped Q1 and Q2, Hamilton led the way after the opening runs in Q3, with a one minute, 15.419 seconds, as his title rival was unable to match his best time from the middle of qualifying.

The 0.565 seconds gap Verstappen faced to Hamilton left Bottas with the chance to slot in ahead in second, which he did.

Ahead of the second and final Q3 runs, Verstappen emerged from his garage right behind Hamilton, who drove very slowly down the pitlane and early and then late in the final warm-up tour as he stayed ahead of the Red Bull.

With the clock ticking down as a result of the slow preparation-lap driving, Verstappen only just made it across the line to start a second Q3 flier, while Perez missed out but held onto to fourth in any case.

But the slow warm-up lap tactics backfired for Mercedes in terms of its drivers improving on their second goes, as Bottas, who led Hamilton around, did not go quicker and nor did the world champion.

But while Verstappen did improve to a one minute, 15.840 seconds, it wasn’t enough to get him ahead of either Mercedes car, with Hamilton’s pole secure ahead of his teammate.

Pierre Gasly beat Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc to fifth for AlphaTauri, with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso eighth and ninth for Alpine.

Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top ten after running an off-set Q3 strategy, completing his one minute, 16.750 seconds on a single run in the middle of the final segment.

In Q2, where Verstappen went quickest after switching to the softs, Sebastian Vettel’s late improvement knocked out Daniel Ricciardo, who’s personal best on his final lap in the middle segment was not enough to get him through to Q3.

Lance Stroll took P12 for Aston Martin to finish ahead of Alfa Romeo pair Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi – who was given a reprimand for impeding Gasly in FP3, while his team was fined €5,000 for the incident where Giovinazzi clipped Stroll’s right-rear while exiting the pitlane in final practice.

The other driver eliminated in Q2 was Carlos Sainz, who lost the rear of his Ferrari running through the final corner on his first timed lap in the opening segment, with the car sliding sideways across the runoff area and hitting the barriers side-on.

He was able to drive away as the session was red flagged, but soon stopped after his front wing broke off and became trapped under the car.

Although Sainz did pull away again after sitting in his car for a few minutes, but he eventually turned the engine off and climbed out, ending Q2 in P15 without a time set, and after Sainz had appeared to impede Gasly late in Q1, with the Ferrari taking to the kerbs at Turn 1 in a bid to get out of the way of the rapidly approaching AlphaTauri.

In Q1, Yuki Tsunoda set a personal best on his final lap in the opening segment but could not improve enough and was eliminated, as was George Russell, who lost his perfect record of escaping Q1 at every race so far in 2021 for Williams.

Russell appeared to go deep at Turn 2 and then ran wide exiting the Turns 6/7 chicane, kicking up dust as he pushed on with his final Q1 lap, but wound up behind Tsunoda in P17, ending his run of Q3 appearances at two.

Nicholas Latifi also set a personal best on his final Q1 lap as he took P18 in the second Williams, with Nikita Mazepin P19 for Haas.

Mick Schumacher could not take part in qualifying as a result of his red-flag-causing FP3 crash, with Haas unable to repair the car in time after changing its gearbox to get the rookie out to set a time in Q1.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in achieving his 101st career pole position in Formula 1. Starting on the front row is a bonus on this twisty circuit where overtaking is tricky. Can championship rival Max Verstappen fight back despite qualifying in third? Bring on the race.

Hungarian Grand Prix, qualifying results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.419
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:15.734
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:15.840
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:16.421
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:16.483
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.489
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:16.496
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:16.653
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:16.715
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:16.750
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.871
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:16.893
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari 1:17.564
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:17.583
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari –
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.919
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:17.944
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:18.036
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:18.922
20 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari –

6 thoughts to “Hamilton heads Mercedes front row at the Hungaroring”

  1. Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position in seven races with a scintillating lap in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying, locking out the front row with Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas as the Briton’s championship rival Max Verstappen had to settle for third.

    The seven-time world champion got the job done on his first run in Q3, setting a lap that was three tenths of a second quicker than his Red Bull rival.

    On the second runs, Hamilton got out of the garage first and ambled down the pit lane, keeping an eye on his mirrors with Verstappen close behind. He continued to cruise all the way to the pit exit and while he picked up the pace, his out lap was slow and bunched up the field.

    As a result, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez could failed to cross the line in time to start a timed lap, the Mexican banging his steering wheel in frustration, with his race engineer saying on team radio it was “a bit of gamesmanship”.

    Hamilton set a slow first sector and didn’t improve in the other two either, but it mattered not as while Verstappen set personal bests in sector two and three, it wasn’t enough to improve on third.

    That gave Hamilton his eighth pole in Hungary – tying the record for most poles at a single circuit – while Mercedes locked out the front row for the fifth time in their last seven attempts at the Hungaroring.

    Intriguingly, the top two teams have gone for different strategies, Mercedes opting for the medium tyres on both their cars, while Red Bull have gone for the soft compound, which should deliver more grip off the start but will not last as long to shorten the first stint.

    Pierre Gasly was a very strong fifth – 11 places clear of AlphaTauri team mate Yuki Tsunoda – for his eighth top-six start of the year, with Lando Norris improving on his second run to leap up three places to sixth, in what is his highest ever start at the Hungaroring.

    Charles Leclerc was the leading Ferrari – his team mate Carlos Sainz having crashed out in Q2 after losing the car at the penultimate corner – in seventh, with Esteban Ocon outqualifying Alpine team mate Fernando Alonso by a position for the first time in six races.

    Sebastian Vettel completed the top 10 in his Aston Martin, as he finished outside the top five in Hungary for the first time since 2008.

    Q1 – Russell misses out on Q2 for the first time in 2021

    Air and track temperatures ramped up for qualifying, with conditions more akin to those the teams experienced in Friday’s second practice session.

    Haas were desperately trying to get Mick Schumacher’s car repaired in time for the German to take part, following his FP3 crash, but they ran out of time.

    Out on track, the two Mercedes were the first to set leading lap times with Hamilton heading Bottas, but they were usurped by Verstappen by 0.2s.

    All three times were good enough to progress, so they retreated to the garage – but the second Red Bull of Perez did two runs, both delivering similar lap times as he struggled for pace and ended up a second away from his team mate.

    Yuki Tsunoda heaped the pressure on himself after a lacklustre opening two runs – and he was unable to do enough on his third, which meant an early bath.

    George Russell was unable to maintain his season-long run of Q2 appearances, with a scruffy final lap that put him 17th, less than a tenth clear of Williams team mate Nicholas Latifi.

    Knocked out: Tsunoda, Russell, Latifi, Mazepin, Schumacher

    Q2 – Sainz crashes out, as Red Bull and Mercedes go for different strategies

    It was mediums for Mercedes and Red Bull as Q2 got under way, with the rest of the field opting for the less durable soft tyre. Hamilton went quickest, a couple of tenths clear of Verstappen, with Bottas slotting into third ahead of Perez.

    Leclerc popped into second on the softs, and his team mate Carlos Sainz – who was fourth in Q1 – was going quick, too, but got it wrong at the penultimate corner, and slid into the wall sideways, tearing off his front wing. He got going again, but in driving over the front wing, his Ferrari got stuck.

    That meant his session was over, with the race director throwing a red flag to give the marshals some time to clear away his scarlet machine. When running got back under way, with six minutes and 40 seconds remaining, with Alonso wasting little time and eased into the top 10 on the softs.

    Red Bull sent both their drivers out on soft tyres, with both improving, which means they will start on that rubber, while their rivals Mercedes will be on the more durable medium to set up an intriguing tactical battle in the race.

    Daniel Ricciardo popped into the top 10, but his stay didn’t last long as a flurry of drivers improved. He was bumped down to 10th, just 0.08s behind Vettel to see the Australian miss Q3 in Hungary for a fourth year in a row.

    Lance Stroll was a tenth behind team mate Vettel in 12th, with the Alfa Romeo duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi lining up just behind. Sainz was the fifth and final driver to drop out, having failed to set a time following his crash.

    Knocked out: Ricciardo, Stroll, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Sainz

    Q3 – Hamilton gets the job done

    Hamilton set a very competitive opening lap in Q3, that laid down a daunting gauntlet for Verstappen, whose own opening salvo was slower than his best effort in Q2.

    As they bolted on new tyres for their second runs, Hamilton beat Verstappen out of the garage and controlled the pace all the way round.

    He locked up at the penultimate corner, to put him on the back foot, and failed to improve in any of the three sectors.

    Verstappen had a stronger lap, but he stayed third to leave him with only one front row start in Hungary (when he was on pole in 2019).

    Bottas did exactly what Mercedes will have hoped, putting the car second as a rear gunner for Hamilton, for what is only his second front row start of the year.

  2. After qualifying on pole, the trackside fans were booing at Lewis Hamilton but the Mercedes driver admitted it “fuel me” to go faster. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Lewis Hamilton brushed off boos and jeers from the crowd after taking pole position for the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix, saying it “just fuels me”.

    Hamilton charged to his third pole position of the 2021 season – and his first since the Spanish Grand Prix in early May – at the Hungaroring on Saturday, leading a front row lock-out for Mercedes.

    Hamilton’s lap of 1m15.419s saw him finish three tenths clear of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, while title rival Max Verstappen finished four tenths off in third place.

    But the end of qualifying saw both Mercedes drivers leave it late to cross the line to start their laps, with Verstappen just about managing to get across in time before the chequered flag.

    His teammate, Sergio Perez, missed the flag and was unable to set a final lap, but qualified fourth nevertheless.

    Hamilton was met with boos as he got out of his car on the main straight following his final lap, the booing growing heavier as he came to conduct his parc ferme.

    Hamilton continued his parc ferme interview amid the boos, calling it “an amazing qualifying lap” that gave him pole position.

    “I think it has been amazing teamwork from everyone this weekend, Valtteri included, just trying to push the car forwards, developing constantly,” Hamilton said.

    “The guys back at the factory just not left any stone unturned. So, it’s been amazing to see everyone coming together and rallying up and pushing forward so, and I appreciate the great support I have here.”

    Hamilton then addressed the booing unprompted, saying: “Honestly I’ve never actually felt so great with the booing. If anything, it just fuels me, so I don’t really mind it.”

    The seven-time world champion has faced abuse from some fans following his clash with Verstappen at Silverstone two weeks ago, the worst of which descended into racist messages that were condemned by those in F1.

    Hamilton will enter Sunday’s race chasing his 100th grand prix victory, and will run a different strategy to Verstappen, starting on mediums while the Red Bull begins the race on softs.

    “I think the soft tyre is worth something like five metres down into down one, it’s a long way down into Turn 1,” Hamilton said.

    “So yeah, it was surprising to see the guys behind us, most people, I think everyone in the top 10, on the soft except for us. We will see.

    “It’s definitely great having a lock-out for our team. It’s the first time in a long time so big, big thank you to everyone back to the factory and.

    “I hope the weather is good for everyone tomorrow, enjoy the sun and stay safe.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen commented that the soft tyre switch prompted by lack of pace. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Max Verstappen says he made the Q2 soft tyre qualifying switch for Formula 1’s Hungarian Grand Prix because he was worried his medium lap would not be quick enough.

    The Red Bull driver had shadowed rival Mercedes’ strategy in doing his first Q2 run on the medium compound, with F1’s rules dictating drivers must start the race on the compound they do their fastest lap on in that segment.

    Although he switched to the soft for his final run, it is a common practice for drivers to do that and put in a quick banker over the opening segment of the lap and then abandon it late on when their place in Q3 is assured.

    However, Verstappen said that he and the team elected to complete the lap because there was some concern that, with other drivers on soft tyres jumping them on the timesheets, they could get dumped out.

    “It was just because the others also were on the soft and they were improving their laptime,” explained Verstappen.

    “So when my lap time on the medium would have really been on the edge for top 10, we decided to finish that lap.”

    While the soft tyre will not be ideal for the strategy tomorrow, thanks to its high degradation, it should give the Dutchman an advantage on the run down to the first corner after the start.

    Pole position man Lewis Hamilton reckoned there was a five-metre benefit from having the soft, and it was this factor that has left Red Bull with a bit of hope.

    Team boss Christian Horner told Sky: “We couldn’t do the same time as Lewis did on the medium, and we felt that maybe tactically, it’s a different route. I’d prefer that tyre for the start tomorrow. So we’ll see.

    “We’ve got to drive an attacking race tomorrow. You know how hard it is to overtake around here, so strategy is going to be crucial.”

    Verstappen reckoned the Hungaroring weekend had so far been one where Red Bull was on the back foot against Mercedes.

    “We’ve been a bit behind and it showed again in qualifying,” he said. “So yeah, not what we wanted but nevertheless we’re still there in P3 and we’ll see what we can do.”

  4. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz feeling “calm” after discovering wind gust caused qualifying crash and not driver error. Motorsport.com provides the news story.

    A gust of wind sent Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz off the road in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying, consigning the Spaniard to 15th place on the grid.

    Sainz lost control of his car at the final corner, hitting the barrier with the left-hand side of the car with a 22G impact.

    Nevertheless, he tried to get going, but his front wing became dislodged under the front wheels.

    He was unable to find reverse and back away and drive around the broken wing, and had to abandon the car.

    He was so surprised by the sudden loss of control that he went back to the garage to review the data, where the role of the wind became apparent, a discovery that he admitted made him “more calm”.

    Sainz had been fourth fastest in FP3 on Sunday morning and repeated that performance in Q1, making the crash at the final corner of the lap even more disappointing.

    “Yeah, very frustrating,” he said. “And to be honest I’m also very surprised, it’s not a mistake that I’ve done in a long time.

    “I went straight away to the garage to see what had happened on the data, and what what I could have done differently.

    “After having a look at it, to be honest, I’m more calm about it, because I saw that I actually entered the corner 5km/h slower than in the previous run. But there’s a 35-40km/h gust of tailwind compared to a 10km/h tailwind in Q1, and this probably just sent me on a massive overseer.

    “Unfortunate, but at the same time, I don’t want to use it as an excuse. I think I owe an apology to the team. But at the same time, it’s not something that I’m going to dwell too much on, because I’ve seen the data, and it has left me a bit more calm about it.”

    Sainz acknowledged that the Ferrari is not usually a wind sensitive car.

    “These cars are massively wind sensitive, as you can imagine. But I’ve driven [ones with] worse wind sensitivities. And that’s why maybe it caught me by surprise a bit. It is what it is.

    “I saw that I had entered the corner slower than in the previous run, I said, ‘Okay, I didn’t try anything crazy or anything stupid, and I just lost it.’ It’s how it goes sometimes, it’s how motorsport works, and learn from it.”

    Sainz acknowledged that even if he had been able to get the car to the pits, his session was probably over due to the sheer scale of the impact.

    “I couldn’t find reverse. So maybe something to look into there. I mean, after 22G I’m suspecting I had to stay 20 minutes in the medical checks because it was a big hit.

    “I’m suspecting that it was over. My spirit of never giving up this time didn’t work!”

    Sainz could still drop further down the grid from 15th should his team be obliged to change his gearbox. That could open up the possibility of a pitlane start and making set-up changes to make it easier to overtake.

  5. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says Formula 1 gamesmanship accusations are “so silly”. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Lewis Hamilton says suggestions he deliberately held up the Red Bull drivers late Formula 1 qualifying at Budapest are “so silly” and insists he does not deploy gamesmanship “tactics”.

    Provisional polesitter Hamilton led Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez around ahead of the final runs in Q3 – behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas – where both Mercedes drivers appeared to drive slower than might have been expected.

    Hamilton ran very slowly through the pitlane once Verstappen had been released into his wake, while Bottas backing off ahead of the final turns meant Verstappen only just made it through to start a second Q3 run.

    Perez missed out but remained fourth after the final runs, where none of the top four positions changed to ensure Hamilton of pole.

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner described the events as “a bit of gamesmanship” that was Hamilton’s “right to do” in comments to Sky Sports F1 immediately after qualifying finished at the Hungaroring.

    But the world champion explained that tactics had not been a factor, and Mercedes was merely trying to leave a gap in anticipation of the Q3 runners up ahead approaching the final turns of their respective warm-up laps at slow speed, as is typical at Budapest to try and preserve tyre life for flying laps.

    When asked by Motorsport.com about Horner’s comments, as well as a tweet by former F1 driver Romain Grosjean apparently in reference to Q3 which read “If that was made on purpose, it’s not pretty…”, Hamilton replied: “I mean, it’s so silly man.

    “Everyone was going slow – did you not watch everybody else? I don’t understand. Do you think I could’ve gone quicker and then been just closer to Valtteri?

    “I mean, everyone was doing a slow out-lap. It was no different, really, to any other lap.

    “Of course, each time we’re going out we’re trying to prepare the tyres and keep them cooler because they get so hot throughout the lap.

    “I wasn’t playing any tactics. I don’t need to play no tactics, man. I know what I’m doing in the car and it’s fast enough, we don’t need to add tactics.

    “So, those that are making the comments really don’t clearly know anything about the job that we’re doing here, which is probably why they’re not driving here.”

    Explaining his slow driving in the pitlane and pit exit, Hamilton said: “We were one of the last of the cars out.

    “I knew that ahead of those guys, ahead of Valtteri and whoever was ahead of him, would all bunch up towards the end of the lap, so I tried to make as big a gap as possible.

    “And then even still with that at the end of the lap we still had to pull back off and wait for everyone to get going.

    “So, [I was] just trying to make sure that I had the best gap ahead of me.

    “But, ultimately, I think now of us probably had the best tyre prep for that lap because everyone was going slow.”

    Hamilton also suggested that his final warm-up lap “definitely wasn’t perfect”, as his subsequent flying lap ended up being 2.335s slower than the “beautiful” lap he had produced at the start of Q3 that was ultimately good enough for pole.

    “Right towards the end [of the final Q3 warm-up lap I] just probably lost too much temperature in the tyres – in the fronts,” he said.

    “So yeah, at the start of the lap just wasn’t great.

    “And it didn’t really seem to get better later on through the lap. But I’m really grateful the team worked so hard to get the car where it is today.”

  6. Red Bull Formula 1 boss Christian Horner says he has no “major issue” with Lewis Hamilton’s “gamesmanship” at the end of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

    Mercedes driver Hamilton took provisional pole with his first run in the final stage of qualifying at the Hungaroring, sitting over half a second clear of title rival Max Verstappen in third.

    Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas ran ahead of Red Bull duo Verstappen and Sergio Perez as they came to start their final laps, with Hamilton slowing down in the final sector as he prepared his tyres.

    The seven-time world champion accelerated heading into the final corner to begin his lap, leaving it late to cross the line. Verstappen managed to get across, but Perez was unable to get through before the session ended, meaning he could not set a time on his final lap.

    But Red Bull team principal Horner said there were “not really” any gripes from his side about the slow final sector, calling it “a bit of gamesmanship”.

    “Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank, and then obviously he’s just backing things up, up, up, and he doesn’t want to give obviously our cars a clean run,” Horner said. “But it’s his right to do that.

    “He’s got the track position. We haven’t got a major issue. It’s all about tomorrow now.”

    Asked if Red Bull would have done the same the other way around, Horner replied: “I think we’ve have probably focused more on the preparation of our tyre, because you can see his laptime was nowhere near his [best] qualifying time.

    “He was obviously more interested in what was going on behind. But that’s part of the game.”

    Hamilton’s final lap in Q3 did not improve on his initial benchmark, while Verstappen only found one tenth of a second, still leaving him third on the grid.

    Perez held on to fourth despite not getting a second lap time, and explained to Sky Sports after qualifying that Red Bull thought he had “plenty of margin” to make the flag.

    “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and that meant that I basically lost my final attempt,” Perez said. “I think I had a good amount of time left in the car. We did some adjustments, and here is a place where if you get one corner right, there’s just plenty of lap time in it, because there’s so many corners.

    “It’s a big shame. At the end, we have a good starting position for tomorrow. But yeah, we knew Mercedes was going to be very strong.

    “So I really hope tomorrow we are able to put a lot of pressure onto them.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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