Lewis Hamilton has beaten his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in wet conditions to take pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Mercedes appeared to struggle to unlock performance in dry conditions, but Hamilton managed to find grip as the track began to dry.
The rain began to come right at the start of the session, which turned the performance on its head. Mercedes has struggled to match Ferrari and Red Bull in practice, however, Hamilton and Bottas locked out the front row by nearly a quarter of the second over the Ferrari’s off Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
Raikkonen briefly held pole until the frantic few closing moments when the rain began to fall, but Hamilton was already on new full wet tyres and then managed to find enough grip to push down the two Finns. Hamilton’s title rival Vettel, could only manage fourth.
The Mercedes lockout should help Hamilton’s chances of another victory in Budapest, a circuit where he has won nearly half the races he has started.
Hamilton said “We couldn’t have expected this. Ferrari have been quickest all weekend. Then the heavens opened and it was fair game.”
“When it was dryer it was a bit like doing ballet and tiptoeing trying to find a line. It was give and take all the way around. We’ve got a great position so we’re going to do our best as a team and keep the red guys behind us.”
Bottas added “Crossing the line being on pole then obviously Lewis had a better lap. It was very crucial, he was quicker on that lap, as a team for us one-two, it could’ve been worse. We are free to fight so I’m looking forward to it.”
Renault’s Carols Sainz was fifth ahead of the Toro Rosso off Pierre Gasly, the two Red Bull driver outpacing the senior Red Bull of Max Verstappen and Brendon Hartley put his Toro Rosso eighth. While Daniel Ricciardo lost out in the closing moments of Q2, after failing to improve in the wet to start twelfth.
For Hartley, his best qualifying of his F1 career.
Haas continued their strong run of results as both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean made it through to Q3, starting ninth and tenth. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso wasn’t happy with the teams suggestion that he should switch to new wets to attempt to get through to Q3, he paid the price starting eleventh.
Despite using the slicks, Nico Hulkenberg, Marcus Ericsson and Lance Stroll, all failed to improve on their runs Q2. But it was more costly for Ricciardo, he looked to have the pace on the Ultrasofts but was held up thanks to Lance Stroll spinning ahead of him.
Another driver who normally can deliver in the wet Nico Hulkenberg also failed in Q2, there was a a problem with a fuel bowser which meant the team could not immediately fill the car.
By the time he got out, it was too wet for a quick lap and the German ended up thirteenth.
On the day Force India entered administration, hopes of a good day on track were dash with the team having the worst session of the season. Esteban Ocon could only go eighteenth and Sergio Perez nineteenth.
That put them behind the under pressure Stoffel Vandoorne, who only could manage sixteenth. However, he did improve on his final run in Q1, but it wasn’t enough to hang on to a place in Q2 as the track continued to dry.
Williams driver Sergio Sirotkin, who complained about being delayed by a Ferrari in the final two corners on his quick lap, will start twentieth.