Hamilton storms to Hungary pole position

Lewis Hamilton has taken his 22nd career pole position, and the 150th for the McLaren team. He will start the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Romain Grosjean, who qualified 0.3 seconds behind.

Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button were 3rd and 4th, while the Ferrari drivers struggled for pace, while Webber and Schumacher didn’t even make it into Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

With a scorching 45 degree track temperature, the Lotus cars were unsurprisingly the first out. Kimi Raikkonen’s 1:23.273 was the first fast lap of the day. Fernando Alonso was set to pip that time, but was held up by a Marussia.

Raikkonen soon improved by another half a second. Second-placed Jenson Button could only manage a 1:23.3 for the time being. However, teammate Lewis Hamilton took another 3 tenths off the fastest time.

Felipe Massa made several attempts to set a lap time, but on each occassion was held up by Michael Schumacher. On the fourth lap, he managed to move into 5th, but was held up again on his subsequent lap.

Lewis was the first to move into the 1:21 zone, after 6 laps on the medium tyre. Bruno Senna continued on his good practice pace, taking second position. Oddly, Fernando Alonso was struggling, and was forced to take on the softer tyre to continue into Q2, even if he was beaten by Paul di Resta.

With only a few minutes left on the clock, Button, Perez, Vettel and Webber all were teetering above the drop zone. All but Sebastian went out again to improve their lap times. Vettel was very nearly caught out by a charging Kamui Kobayashi, but survived in 17th place.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:23.250

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:23.576

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:24.167

21) Charles Pic – 1:25.244

22) Timo Glock – 1:25.476

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:25.916

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:26.178

Q2

The Mercedes drivers were the first out on track, Michael Schumacher abandoning his first lap after a mistake at turn 4. Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa quickly went into the 1:21 zone, spurring a stream of fast laps from other drivers.

Again the Red Bulls struggled, initially going 5th and 6th, while the Lotuses took first and second. Soon after, Hamilton slashed another 0.5 seconds off the fastest time.

The Ferraris improved to 2nd and 3rd, Alonso finding it difficult to beat even Massa. After a flurry of activity, Mark Webber was left in 10th place, and Bruno Senna pushed him even further down the order. A dust cloud pulled up by Pastor Maldonado distracted Michael Schumacher, leaving him in 17th place.

Mercedes concluded a dismal afternoon, with Nico Rosberg 13th, and little prospects for the race.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Mark Webber – 1:21.715

12) Paul di Resta: 1:21.813

13) Nico Rosberg – 1:21.895

14) Sergio Perez – 1:21.895

15) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:22.300

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:22.380

17) Michael Schumacher – 1:22.723

Q3

After an impressive Q2, Nico Hulkenberg was straight out on track for Q3 – albeit on the medium tyre compound.

Lewis Hamilton was set to go fastest, but a massive slide at turn 8 ended his lap. In the first 5 minutes, only Raikkonen, Grosjean, Hamilton and Button set times, the other drivers waiting in the pits.

Sebastian Vettel was set for provisional pole, but lost 0.2 seconds in the final few corners. Pastor Maldonado had to carve his way past both McLarens and Vettel, but still managed 4th place for the moment.

Vettel gave up rather quickly in Q3, leaving the Lotuses, McLarens and Alonso to battle it out at the front. The Ferraris found themselves down in 6th and 7th place, Alonso managing to pip Massa. Kimi Raikkonen was only 5th, but teammate Grosjean nearly beat Hamilton, taking 2nd place. Vettel remained in 3rd, with Button close behind in 4th.

But nobody was able to topple Hamilton’s lap. Despite Grosjean’s final attempt coming close, the McLaren had already set another lap, 0.3 seconds faster than his Lotus rival. The race is Lewis’ to lose tomorrow, but the weather may play a huge part in proceedings…

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