Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has become the one-hundredth different pole-sitter after beating Mercedes Valtteri Bottas by a hundredth of a second in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver secured the teams’ first pole of the season, and Hondas first pole since Melbourne 2006.
The Dutchman beat Bottas and teammate Lewis Hamilton with the last lap in the session, following a very close battle between the top three teams. Although the two Ferrari’s slipped back slightly on the final runs in Q3. It was a close fight and Bottas didn’t seem bothered about being slightly behind.
Hamilton meanwhile was just two tenths off the pace, which cost him the chance to equal Michael Schumacher’s pole record at the Hungaroring.
Ferrari appeared after FP3 if they could have been close, but when Red Bull and Mercedes turned up the cars they couldn’t mount a challenge. That left Charles Leclerc four and three-quarters of a tenth off the pace and almost two-hundredths faster than teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Leclerc survived a spin early on in Q1 at the final corner to out-qualify Vettel. The Monacan lost control of his car out of the final corner, and then spun the car into the wall.
There was some damage to the crash structure at the rear of the car, at least, so it was a strong performance from Leclerc, as well as something of a relief after the latest in a series of errors threatened to blight his day.
The German half a second off the Dutchman and ahead of Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman couldn’t find the same pace as Verstappen and was the slowest of the top three teams. All of the top three teams start the race on the mediums.
Verstappen said, “It’s incredible. This one was still missing, and you know it’s always going to be hard in qualifying but we managed to do it. The car was flying and it was incredible.”
Bottas said, “We’ve been chasing it pretty much all weekend since missing practice one, but we really only started to get into the rhythm of it this morning.”
“It was getting better and better in qualifying and I was pleased with the time in the end. I’m still going to fight for the win.”
McLaren won the midfield battle, Lando Norris seventh outqualifying his teammate Carlos Sainz by five-hundredths of a second. The Bristolian looking stronger than his teammate all weekend, in what has been the closest battles throughout the season.
Romain Grosjean was ninth in Haas’s Melbourne spec car, a hundredth faster than the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen. Nico Hulkenberg just missed out on a place in Q3, the German was knocked out by the Finn after the former champion went less than half a tenth faster.
Although Hulkenberg failed to improve, he remained ahead of both the Toro Rosso’s of Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat. Antonio Giovinazzi also couldn’t improve on his second run, staying ahead of Kevin Magnussen in the latest-specification Haas, who was unable to repeat his strong Q1 pace in Q2.
The Italian was awarded a three-place grid penalty for impleading Lance Stroll, he qualified fourteenth but starts seventeenth. The steward deciding that he unnecessarily impeded the Canadian.
Their report stated that when on an in-lap it is the driver’s responsibly to make “all reasonable endeavours” to watch for following cars and avoid impeding them. Giovinazzi was shown a blue flashing light halfway between Turn 3 and Turn 4, the long run uphill that ends the first sector.
It was a strong Q1 for George Russell, the Williams driver got his timing perfect as he started his final run ahead of the rest of the midfield as the clock stopped and jumped to eighth. A good effort as the team has struggled all season, but he missed out by five-hundredths of a second.
He told the media, “I feel like we’ve really turned a page this weekend, understanding the tyres and understanding the car. I feel we’ve really come alive. There’s been so much work behind the scenes to make the aero and the correlation better, and it’s been a long process”
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez did enough on his final run to jump ahead of the second Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, who had to back out of his final lap.
The Australian was caught in a gaggle of traffic at the last corner ahead of the start of his lap and attempted to find clear air by going around Perez before having to back out of it when the Racing Point driver was unwilling to let him go.
Perez was incredulous on the radio afterwards, saying: “What the f— is wrong with Ricciardo, man!? He f—– his lap and he f—– our lap.”
His teammate Lance Stroll faired not much better nineteenth ahead of Robert Kubica, the only driver not improving.