Hamilton and Mercedes enjoy flying performance in Budapest qualifying, locking out front row ahead of championship leader Verstappen; Gasly fifth, Norris sixth; Sainz crashes out for Ferrari in Q2
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 31/07/21 4:13pm
Lewis Hamilton claimed a surprisingly dominant pole position as part of a Mercedes front-row lockout ahead of Max Verstappen in Hungarian GP qualifying.
Taking an official pole for the first time since May, Hamilton lapped three tenths of a second faster than team-mate Valtteri Bottas and four tenths clear of Red Bull rival Verstappen, who he trails by eight points in the championship after the dramatic events of Silverstone.
Hamilton was booed by some of the crowd in the main grandstand, which contained a large contingent of Verstappen fans, as he conducted his TV interview after the session on the first race weekend since the events of Silverstone where F1’s title rivals collided.
“I appreciate the great support I have here,” said Hamilton. “Honestly, I’ve never actually felt so great with the booing, if anything it just fuels me. So I don’t really mind it.”
Hamilton’s first Q3 time of 1:15.419 was enough to secure his 101st pole with neither championship contender improving on their final runs after a slow out lap in which the Mercedes ran ahead of both Red Bulls.
Sergio Perez, who was third in the queue, was timed out of a final attempt.
“It’s a bit of gamesmanship,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner to Sky F1. “Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank and then obviously he’s just backing things up and obviously doesn’t want to give our cars a clean run.
“But it’s his right to do that, he’s got the track position, so we haven’t got a major issue. It’s all about tomorrow now.”
In an additional boost for Mercedes, Hamilton and Bottas will start Sunday’s race on the more durable medium tyres compared to the Red Bulls, who had to take the soft compound in Q2. The soft has faster initial performance but degrades more quickly than the medium.
Perez ended up a distant fourth in the second Red Bull, with Pierre Gasly a brilliant fifth for AlphaTauri and McLaren’s Lando Norris sixth.
Charles Leclerc was seventh for Ferrari but team-mate Carlos Sainz endured a Q2 nightmare, crashing out as he rounded the circuits long final corner.
The Spaniard will start no higher than 15th on a track that is notoriously difficult to overtake.
Mick Schumacher had earlier crashed his Haas in final practice and that incident proved costly. With his car sustaining major damage, Schumacher missed qualifying entirely and collected a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change which will put him 20th on Sunday’s grid behind team-mate Nikita Mazepin for just the second time this year.
More to follow…
Hungarian GP Qualifying result
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
5) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
6) Lando Norris, McLaren
7) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
8) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
9) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
10) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
Knocked out in Q2
11) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
12) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
13) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
14) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
15) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
Knocked out in Q1
16) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
17) George Russell, Williams
18) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
19) Nikita Mazepin, Haas
20) Mick Schumacher, Haas
When is Sunday’s Hungarian GP?
The 11th round of the season and final race before the sport’s three-week summer break starts at 2pm from the Hungaroring, with all the best build-up before the live action on Sky Sports F1 from 12.30pm.