Lewis Hamilton storms to pole position for Hungarian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton took pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix, putting in a precision run in the Mercedes at the Hungaroring. His teammate Valtteri Bottas was in second. Racing Point proved definitively the strength of their version of the 2019 Mercedes with Lance Stroll in third and Sergio Pérez in fourth. Ferrari showed an improvement on recent form, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc coming in fifth and sixth.

Red Bull, expected to be strong here, have struggled for balance and stability all weekend and endured a disappointing qualifying. Max Verstappen finished in seventh and Alexander Albon went out in Q2 in 13th.

Williams’s George Russell completed a fine lap to claim 12th, with his teammate Nicholas Latifi in 15th. It is the first time Williams have put both drivers into the second session since Monza in 2018.

McLaren’s Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz were in eighth and ninth with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in 10th. Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was in 11th, with his teammate Esteban Ocon in 14th. Haas’s Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean finished in 16th and 18th with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat in 17th. Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen were in 19th and 20th.

At the Styrian GP last weekend Hamilton dominated the race from pole, and with track position vital in Hungary he will have every expectation of doing so again here. In dry conditions his first hot lap in Q3 was unthreatened by anyone except his teammate. The Briton set a time of 1min 13.613sec, three-tenths up on Bottas but a second clear of the rest of the field.

On his second run it was a clear fight between the two Mercedes cars and once more Hamilton had the edge. He put in a flawless lap that looked better through every sector and a track record of 1.13.447 was once more untouchable. Bottas was a tenth down and the Racing Point drivers almost a second behind.

Hamilton now has a remarkable 90 career pole positions and with his seventh in Hungary matches the track record held by Michael Schumacher. If the British driver converts it into a win on Sunday he will have also matched Schumacher’s record of the most wins at the same circuit. Schumacher scored eight at Magny Cours between 1994 and 2006. Hamilton has seven at the Hungaroring, taking his first win and pole here in 2007.

Having take pole for the Styrian Grand Prix with a stunning run in Austria last weekend, Hamilton has the strong opening he required to stamp his authority on his title challenge. He still trails Bottas by six points in the championship, the result of the penalty that demoted Hamilton from second to fourth in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Running time in practice had been limited because of rain on Friday but as he has so many times before Hamilton had it hooked up perfectly on Saturday. Mercedes had already proved how strong their car was through the quicker corners of Austria but were cautious as to how it would perform on the predominantly medium and slow corners of the Hungaroring. Their performance here suggest the car has strengths across the board and they have leapt from the blocks of this curtailed season with a clear advantage. Hamilton was quickest in first practice, with Bottas heading a Mercedes one-two in the final session on Saturday morning.

Ferrari continued with their fast-tracked aero upgrades to Hungary as their car was well off the pace in the opening rounds. With a new front wing and floor they were hoping for a step forward but Vettel had warned that they could not expect to make a giant leap. They had hoped the Hungaroring would play to the strengths of their car, which is down on power but with greater downforce. There was an improvement but the Scuderia still needs more and quickly if they are to catch Mercedes and Red Bull.

Hamilton set his best time in Q2 on the medium tyre allowing him to start the race on the harder compound and giving the team greater strategic options. Pérez was quickest in Q1, with Hamilton in third. That Mercedes were in imperious form was clear when Hamilton set a track record to lead Q2 on the harder tyres.

source: theguardian.com