Hungarian GP Qualifying: Hamilton delivers stunning lap to steal pole from Vettel

Lewis Hamilton will start the Hungarian GP from pole position

Lewis Hamilton will start the Hungarian GP from pole position

Lewis Hamilton dug deep and delivered a stunning lap to steal pole position from Sebastian Vettel during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, in doing so the Mercedes driver claimed his third successive top spot starting slot for the first time in his career and his 30th F1 pole which moves him one clear of his hero Ayrton Senna in the all-time pole winners list.

All credit to Silver Arrows as they kept their famed one lap pace under wraps until it really mattered – qualifying – as prior to that, during the free practice sessions, they gave little indication of what they had in reserve. But it soon became evident that they had kept the best for last, as Hamilton topped Q1.

But Vettel, whose pace in the Red Bull was well know throughout the first two days, managed his tyres well and arrived in Q3 with two fresh sets to play with. He popped a very impressive 1:19.506 and sauntered back to the pits to bolt on his second set of fresh yellow band Pirelli tyres.

But Hamilton, the 2008 world champio,n had an answer to that as he knuckled down and popped an astounding 1:19.388, all eyes were on Vettel as he took his second shot at the prize but fell short by a mere 0.038. Hamilton will start the Hungarian GP from pole.

Top three in parc ferme (L to R) Sebastian Vettel (second) with pole winner Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean (third)

Top three in parc ferme (L to R) Sebastian Vettel (second) with pole winner Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean (third)

Hamilton, who won in Budapest back in his rookie season in 2007 and again last year, appeared surprised that he managed to beat Vettel.

He said afterwards, “With the [high] temperatures, it pretty tough. I was really surprised when I came across the line and they said I got pole. I didn’t feel like that was a great lap.”

“I thought Sebastian had got it. I’m really surprised, I thought maybe he made a mistake or something. We brought some upgrades this weekend, the guys are working hard and it’s a result of all hard work they’ve put in.”

“Starting on pole definitely helps as it’s difficult to follow here. It’s a long way down to Turn One, but if you can get there first and try and hold position, it’s definitely advantageous. These guys [Vettel and Grosjean] are going to be ridiculously fast so trying to keep in front or holding onto them is going to be the challenge.”

For world championship leader Vettel, who is targeting his fourth world title this season, conceded that Mercedes were faster on the day but would be pleased that his main championship rivals were only fifth and sixth. Nevertheless he appeared to be fuming as he exited his cockpit and stormed into the weigh in area. He cooled quickly after that, perhaps after realising that his plight may not be so bad after all.

Sebastian Vettel second quickest

Sebastian Vettel second quickest

“There wasn’t much missing today but Lewis did a good job. I was pretty happy with both laps because I had two sets of new tyres, maybe I wasn’t aggressive enough in the middle,” reflected the Red Bull driver.

“It is stupid to sit and say, we should have done this, and we should have done that. Mercedes have good pace in qualifying so you have to be fair and respect that. I would have loved to have been a little bit faster and on pole but we have a good car and in a good position. We should have a good race tomorrow and I am quite confident,” admitted Vettel.

If Germany was the first phase of the Romain Grosjean renaissance, then Hungary looks to be another step in his redemption. The Frenchman has thus far outclassed his experienced teammate Kimi Raikkonen in Budapest, and will start from third on the grid after giving an impressive performance in qualifying.

Grosjean told reporters, “I like this circuit, but that’s not important. It’s been a good weekend, we’ve been working hard with the team trying to get best out of the car. The last lap was pretty good. The race is very long and it’ll be very hot but we will see what we can do to get the best result. Option tyres are tight to make work, but the medium tyres are OK on our car. I can try to have a go tomorrow.”

Romain Grosjean third fastest

Romain Grosjean third fastest

Nico Rosberg had to again play second fiddle to his teammate by 0.332 seconds, and will start fourth on the grid.

Fifth fastest Fernando Alonso will head up the third row of the grid in his Ferrari, with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen beside him in sixth, and Felipe Massa in seventh heading up the fourth row.

In the ‘battle for the other Red Bull seat’ Daniel Ricciardo did his shares no harm by out-qualifying Toro Rosso teammate (and one time candidate) Jean Eric Vergne. The pair will start 8th and 14th respectively, Ricciardo having made it into Q3 but Vergne failing to do so.

After the three free practice sessions in Hungary it seemed that McLaren had made a step forward, and perhaps they have, but qualifying did them no favours as Jenson Button failed to make it out of Q2 and will start 13th. Sergio Perez,despite crashing heavily a couple of hours earlier, impressed as he made it through to Q3. He will start ninth, and will be the first driver on the grid with the white band medium tyres (the harder of the offerings at Hungaroring) bolted on for the start.

Nico Rosberg fourth fastest

Nico Rosberg fourth fastest

‘Why always me’ must be ringing through Mark Webbers head as he once again endured a KERS problem on his Red Bull which put him out of the running in Q3. He will start tenth.

Out of the top ten and enduring a surprising drop in competitiveness were the Force India pair, with Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta starting 11th and 18th. Something is clearly amiss in Hungary with the hitherto impressive and effective VJM06. Either the heat, or the new tyre structure or even a combination of both may have impacted their performance.

Di Resta, who failed to make it beyond Q1, was fuming afterwards when he spoke to BBC, “You tell me what’s gone wrong – the team is confused. It just didn’t switch on, it just didn’t happen. When team wanted more time, there was no way – that was it. We can’t go much further back. but we need to go forward. We need to find out why that was the way it was. We thought we’d probably cracked it but it showed we didn’t.”

On the other side of the coin Nico Hulkenberg again drove the Sauber as if he had stolen it, thrashing it around the tight and twisty bits to secure 12th place on the grid. By comparison his teammate Esteban Gutierrez was a Q1 victim, and 0.696 slower than his teammate.

Fernando Alonso fifth fastest

Fernando Alonso fifth fastest

The scene is set for what should be a tight contest, but the smart money would have to be on Vettel. Hamilton could well fall victim of Mercedes’ lack of race pace in the heat – and a heatwave is expected – but on the other hand the point and squirt nature of Hungaroring could play in their hands.

From a couple of rows too far down the grid, Vettel’s main title rivals Alonso and Raikkonen have it all to do. For the championship, the reigning world champion only needs to have his Red Bull finish ahead of that Lotus and that Ferrari – winning is not essential provided he can keep those two behind him.

But we all know such a scenario is not part of Vettel’s game plan… ever. It will be win or bust as always for Red Bull’s finest and that’s why we are in for a thriller on Sunday.

Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 27 July 2013

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.363 1:19.862 1:19.388 15
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:20.646 1:19.992 1:19.426 12
3 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:20.447 1:20.101 1:19.595 15
4 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:20.350 1:19.778 1:19.720 16
5 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:20.652 1:20.183 1:19.791 15
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:20.867 1:20.243 1:19.851 17
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:21.004 1:20.460 1:19.929 15
8 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:21.181 1:20.527 1:20.641 14
9 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.612 1:20.545 1:22.398 16
10 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:21.264 1:20.503 No time 13
11 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:21.471 1:20.569 17
12 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:21.028 1:20.580 13
13 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.131 1:20.777 10
14 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:21.345 1:21.029 12
15 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:20.816 1:21.133 15
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:21.135 1:21.219 13
17 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:21.724 11
18 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:22.043 11
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:23.007 8
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:23.333 7
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:23.787 8
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:23.997 8
Q1 107% Time 1:25.974
  • Amy Yeong

    The British commentors are not impartial and They gave excessive coverage and boasted how Hamilton snatched pole from Vettel and commenting gleeful to see how long Vettel would hold pole position during the Hungarian qualifying race.
    Vettel hold Championship position todate and he deserves more coverage then anyoun else.
    Hamilton ,yes at pole position ,but most importantly will be tomorrow’s race . Hamilton had many pole position ,but didn’t win!

  • earlcee7

    I knew those practice times for Mercedes weren’t representative of their qualy pace… Hope the long runs helped improve the race pace: fingerscrossed!! Go Lewis!!

  • realf1fan

    I’m more convinced than ever that Lewis in a Red Bull would put Seb to the Sword he has come into Nico’s backyard the man who destroyed the 7xwdc over three years and is now consistently starting to beat him in Q3 and is leading him on points this while Lewis is still trying to get to grips with his new car and team.

    Seb has been dominant this weekend and when Seb pulled out 0.8 sec over Lewis in quali 3 I thought that was it even though Seb was on a fresh set of tires and Hammi and Nico was on the scrub set there was only one driver who could have beat Sebs time a driver who I believe will beat any driver in the same car in any era. Also congrats to Lewis for passing the great Fangoi’s 29 pole making Lewis 7th on the all time list.

  • KC

    I love the way people keep acting surprised! The Mercs have won every single pole this season when it’s been dry. Vettel has three poles, but all came in the wet..

    Here’s a safe prediction. If it’s dry at Spa, one of the Mercs will take pole. And if it’s Hamiltons Merc, everyone will claim to be “stunned” by his “amazing time”!

  • KC

    “I’m more convinced than ever that Lewis in a Red Bull would put Seb to the Sword”

    I’m more convinced than ever that Lewis Hamilton fans know a big fat nothing about F1.

  • vpri1

    Wow…..Another issue for Mark Webber. Red Bull idiots. Mark is now a threat to the german rat so lets just slow him down…..

  • MG5W

    KC seems to be a bit annoyed. Lol Don’t worry Adrian Newy look like he’s going to win the WDC for a 4th time. Oh sorry did I say Adrian Newy? I meant Sebastian Vettel. ;-) As long as Webbers car keeps going wrong, “somehow”, its in the bag. Lewis for the win??? Hope so!

  • KC

    Lol, looks like “MG5W” is a little annoyed that Vettel keeps beating the British golden boy Hamilton – in spite of the fact this his wonderful “Newey car” keeps breaking down.

  • MG5W

    Your right KC your Hamilton is a Golden boy. Lol

  • KC

    What are you, eight years old?

  • KC

    Lol

  • MG5W

    That makes me older than you then lol.
    Go ahead have the last word on me ;-)

  • KC

    “That makes me older than you then lol.”

    That’s some towering intellect you’ve got there.

  • Lol.

    Once again, Yalla’s comment section lets the whole site down.

    KC, please, remove your head from your own ass and deflate your ego a little bit. Kthanksbye.

    Shame Grosjean didn’t get it, I thought he had a real chance today.

  • Hawk

    @KC you are right Vettel’s RB keeps breaking down like it has done several times this year. And who said Mark drives the same car as Seb? Note that Seb’s car has never had a KERS malfunction.
    Bon retour Romain. Allez Romain.
    My wish for the race, Lewis from Romain from Alonso…

  • fools

    Alonso for the 2013 WDC!

  • earlcee7

    @KC, without taking anything from Vettel we all know he has the best car on the grid @ th moment. Even though I know he is a fantastic driver, way better than Webber in my opinion, its still a bit annoying that the same driver with superior equipment whitewashes the competition every time!
    Unfortunately F1 isn’t a fair sport for drivers, they have different tools at their disposal. But when someone actually comes in and starts to annoy Vettel (4get Rosberg!!), even if its just in qualy – I think its noteworthy and hope his race pace improves and takes the real fight to Vettel!!

  • Psych4191

    It’s long past time to stop bashing Vettel. He’s one of the best drivers on the grid. He is, without a doubt, up there with Hamilton, Alonso, and Kimi. Sure, Red Bull helps him a little, but to think he never has problems is silly. Remember Valencia last year? What about Silverstone? He has his fair share of problems. Perhaps Mark’s size has something to do with some of these failures.

    The biggest thing to me is Hulk’s gap to Esteban. No teammate should ever be .7 down. Hell, I’m pretty sure post-spring Felipe (When he was in that horrible funk) was still closer to Alonso than that enormous time. Get Esteban out of there, he’s clearly scared of the car.

  • earlcee7

    “post-spring Felipe”!! lol

  • KC

    “without taking anything from Vettel we all know he has the best car on the grid”

    Remind me again, how exactly do we all “know” that?

    And the Mercs have dominated qualifying all season long. Now THAT really is the car at work.

  • KC

    “Note that Seb’s car has never had a KERS malfunction.”

    Seb’s car has had numerous KERS malfunctions, most recently in the German GP just a few weeks ago.

  • Tamburello_1994

    The resident Tfosi have all but disappeared . . . . . . .

  • Hawk

    Maybe Lewis should go back to LA and cut music after Budapest.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Touché Hawk – O.K. So maybe Lewis isn’t so distracted . . . . .

    My larger point was I am entitled to have an opinion. Wrong or not.

    Now if Lewis drops the ball tomorrow when it really counts, then what?

    ;)

  • Hawk

    My view is that the extra curricular activities drivers do do not necessarily distract them. Webber, Button, Alonso, Kimi, Kubica, et al. It would be unfair to pick on one of them. They are mature enough to know which side of their bread is buttered. And are professional enough to follow a strict regimen. Only more emotional stuff affects their temperament like relationships; and the last time I checked they were still human. So what if he drops the ball today, nah, it will not be the music. Maybe it will be because of the tune he is humming to himself.

  • earlcee7

    @KC a car that’s fast over one lap is not necessarily the best car. The best car is one with great race pace especially when that is coupled with good qualy pace. The RBR9 has mostly been either just behind the polesitter if not on pole (Vettel that is) and has been blistering quick during the race; that my friend is a great car!!
    I’m pretty sure Lewis or Nico would happily trade the W04 for that RedBull!!
    There is a reason why the front running drivers (Alonso, Lewis) admit the RedBull is the best.
    You cannot convince anyone who follows F1 that the Ferrari, Lotus or Mercedes is a better overall package than the RedBull