Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have given Mercedes a surprise front-row lockout for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Mercedes looked on Friday to be on the back foot, but as wet weather moved in both drivers switched to fresh intermediate tyres to outpace the Ferrari’s
Pole lap – L. Hamilton 01:35.658
We see Lewis Hamilton go to the inside on the exit of the final corner, before running to the outside but lifts slightly earlier to avoid the white line. He starts the lap, staying on the dry line lifting around 120m before Turn One. Takes a wider line and turns in early to avoid the kerb, before aiming for the middle of the track breaks into Three from the inside roles the car midway through before applying the power.
Stays straight on the exit and is brave to get onto the kerb running down to turn four, as he enters sector two he is up by .05 of a second. He runs to the outside at T4, has a slight wobble on the kerb but runs back to the outside breaking as he goes through T5. Gets the power down exit before lifting for the T6/T7 chicane, he does it well and runs to the inside. Then crosses the track running straight through eight and nine at low speed. Power down on exit and he down a tenth in that sector.
He carries the power along the straight before slowing the car right down for T12 coming from the outside he runs across close to the exit. Slight wobble as he goes towards thirteenth, coming from outside he rounds the corner and gets close on exit to the outside. Goes straight on before lining himself up through the centre angling towards the apex. Crosses back to the outside where he stays and crosses the line with a 1:35.658.
Hamilton shocked with pole
Lewis Hamilton has described his pole position as a “shock” and “special” after Mercedes outpaced Ferrari in wet conditions. While Kimi Raikkonen took provisional pole using used wet tyres, both Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas switched to new wets and went faster to lock out the front row.
Hamilton told Sky Sports “As I went into the last lap I knew I had to piece together each sector and really pull something special out. The positioning on the track… I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s quite a shock really.”
Hamilton has always throughout his career has thrived in wet and in drying conditions as has his teammate Bottas. Mercedes were lucky to find that performance in the wet as they have been playing down there expectations this weekend as this is a low-speed high downforce circuit, suiting Ferrari.
Asked in the press conference whether their performances had proved Hamilton was a better driver than title rival Vettel, Hamilton replied: “I know the answer to that question but it’s for you and the public to judge that.”
Vettel feels Ferrari not a match in wet
Despite topping the times on Friday, Sebastian Vettel could only manage fourth as he believes that Mercedes hold the advantage in the wet. Ferrari had topped both of Friday’s sessions, but the wet weather saw Mercedes take the advantage.
Vettel will start fourth behind his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, with both drivers being half a second off the pace.
“Probably we are not as competitive in the wet as we are in the dry, but you know in these conditions anything can happen and obviously, you can see that the gaps were quite big at times,” Vettel said.
“I think in the end it came down to the final lap. I pushed quite hard and tried everything. Maybe it wasn’t the tidiest lap, but it also wasn’t awful, so I’m pretty OK with the result.”
Asked why the high-downforce advantage Ferrari has appeared to have over Mercedes in normal conditions did not translate to a wet session, Vettel replied: “Well, it’s not always that straightforward.
“I see where you’re coming from, but we’ve not had much running in the wet this year so far. The little bit we had, we have some work still to do.
Verstappen avoids a penalty for impeding
Max Verstappen has avoided a penalty after the stewards began an investigation to see if he impeded Romain Grosjean in qualifying. Verstappen, who qualified in seventh, drew the ire of Haas driver Grosjean late on in Q3, as the Frenchman felt he was significantly hampered by the Red Bull.
Grosjean radioed to his team that Verstappen “f**ked” him and told media afterwards: “It cost me the last two laps. I lost 1.6 seconds on the lap I caught him and I tried to open a bit of a gap and start the next lap. I was so close and there was so much spray I couldn’t see a thing.”
However after speaking to both drivers and reviewing the data, they decided not to take action, because Verstappen was slowing to create a gap to the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly up the road, and that the distance between the cars involved changed dramatically in a short amount of time in conditions with “limited visibility”.
Bad day gets worse
Force India would have been hoping for a good qualifying following the news on Friday evening that the team has gone into administration. However, following that news, the team had their worst session of the season as both drivers failed to make it out of Q1.
Esteban Ocon said “It’s disappointing to be out in Q1, but we had an issue with the brakes that held us back. I pitted for slicks when the track was improving and my brake pedal went long. We tried to optimise the situation as much as we could, cooling down the brakes, but that meant I couldn’t drive the car at 100%. We definitely had much more than this in the tank.”
It appears that the car was just not working as the track started to dry and then they couldn’t make the tyres work. We have seen teams fail in these conditions before, and we know that track timing is very important in the wet.
Chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer explained “A brake problem held back Esteban and seriously compromised his qualifying session, especially towards the end when the track was improving. It wasn’t easy to call the weather conditions in Q1 and the heavy rain that was forecast didn’t arrive as early as we expected. Ultimately Checo didn’t set his times when the track was at its best and that’s why he dropped out in Q1 as well.”
Mercedes were the surprise today and that means that they are in the best place to win this race, we know overtaking is difficult in Budapest and the current regulations don’t help. Although Ferrari and Red Bull will try and use strategy to try and gain position on track!
- Hungarian GP – Qualifying Result
- HUNGARIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton takes a surprise pole in wet conditions as Mercedes lock out front row
- Notebook – Hungarian Practice
- HUNGARIAN GP – Sebastian Vettel fastest in second practice by seven hundredths off a second
- HUNGARIAN GP – Ricciardo tops a close first practice by seven hundredths over Vettel
- Prixview – Hungarian Grand Prix