Hamilton beats Bottas to pole, Racing Point star

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Hamilton seals 90th F1 pole with Mercedes 1s clear of their rivals; Racing Point on second row ahead of Ferrari, while Verstappen only 7th for Red Bull; Russell out-qualifies Albon in the Williams

Last Updated: 18/07/20 4:02pm

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Hungarian GP by edging out Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes streaked clear of their rivals, with Racing Point locking out the second row.

Mercedes, who have been the class of the field throughout the Budapest weekend, were even more dominant in Saturday’s shootout and, with Red Bull fading completely out of the fight, Q3 turned out to be a head-to-head battle between Hamilton and Bottas for pole.

While Bottas improved on his final lap, it wasn’t enough to beat an in-form Hamilton – who took an incredible 90th F1 pole by acing his last effort with a 1:13.4, a tenth of a second ahead of his title rival and team-mate.

“Valtteri doesn’t make it easy for me at all so it requires absolute perfection when doing laps and qualifying like that is one of the things I enjoy most,” said Hamilton, who won last weekend’s Styrian GP.

Sky F1’s Martin Brundle remarked: “What a car that must be to drive.”

Brundle also said Mercedes were in a “league of their own”, a statement backed up by their huge advantage on Saturday – almost a second ahead of their closest challenger.

That turned out to be Lance Stroll in the fast Racing Point, with Sergio Perez just behind as the Silverstone-based outfit, whose car has been protested by Renault due to its alleged similarities to last year’s Mercedes, shone.

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Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Hungarian GP by edging out Valtteri Bottas, with Lance Stroll qualifying third.

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Hungarian GP by edging out Valtteri Bottas, with Lance Stroll qualifying third.

Ferrari sealed their best qualifying result of the season with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc locking out the third row, while Red Bull –
fancied coming into the weekend as pole contenders – endured a painful Saturday.

Max Verstappen, on pole last year, will only be seventh on the starting grid at the Hungaroring in 2020, and team-mate Alex Albon was knocked out in Q2, only 13th in a particularly twitchy RB16.

He was even out-qualified by George Russell, with the young Englishman – who has recently confirmed he will stay with the Grove team for 2021 – starring. Both Williams cars made it through to Q2, for the first time since 2018’s Italian GP.

Hungarian GP Qualifying, Top-10
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
4. Sergio Perez, Racing Point
5. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
6. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
7. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
8. Lando Norris, McLaren
9. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
10. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri

‘Mind-blowing’ Mercedes, Red Bull struggle, rain inbound?

While Bottas and Hamilton won the season-opening races in Austria, both Mercedes and the F1 paddock were expecting a much closer battle for the Silver Arrows heading to the famous Hungaroring.

Red Bull claimed Mercedes’ main gain at the start of the season was engine power, and it was thought that the tight and twisty Budapest circuit – described as a “Red Bull track” by Hamilton himself – would surely play into the hands of other teams.

But that theory was looking questionable on Friday, and was blown out altogether in qualifying.

Mercedes looked comfortable in every qualifying segment, and were utterly untouchable when turning the engines up for the final shootout with both Hamilton and Bottas taking lines and corner speeds the Sky F1 experts marvelled at.

“Mind-blowing,” was Paul Di Resta’s summation of their one-second advantage at the end of Q3.

As impressive as Mercedes were, Red Bull were disappointing.

So often, the team have developed a car which has stuck round the Hungaroring chicanes and corners, but neither Verstappen or Albon have appeared at ease during a weekend which has been characterised by spins and radio rants.

Even after Red Bull broke the overnight curfew to work on setup changes, the drivers simply didn’t have the pace come qualifying.

They just escaped Q1, but Albon wasn’t as fortunate in the second segment. The British-born Thai driver was angry with his team for sending him out into traffic for his final run, but whether he would have improved is doubtful considering his pace up to that point.

Even the one-lap skills of Verstappen couldn’t avoid the team’s surprising sink into the midfield on the grid, behind both the Racing Points and the Ferraris.

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Racing Point’s Lance Stroll couldn’t contain his delight after qualifying third at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll couldn’t contain his delight after qualifying third at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Racing Point’s rise has been remarkable and, while their car attracts off-track criticism from their rivals, Stroll and Perez delivered on it – the Canadian just ahead of his experienced team-mate throughout qualifying.

Just behind them were Ferrari, whose new aerodynamic parts – introduced without great success in Austria – making more an impact in Hungary. A much-needed boost for the Scuderia and their under-pressure drivers.

While not leading the midfield, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz ensured both McLaren cars have made it through to Q3 in every qualifying session to start the season, ahead of Pierre Gasly who had engine issues at the end of Q2 and throughout the final shootout.

Rain is forecast for Sunda
y, which could add another intriguing variable for Sunday’s race, live on Sky Sports F1 at 2.10pm.

One driver hoping for a shower is Russell, who followed up a stonking Q1 lap – which had him as high as third on the timesheets – with an effort good enough to secure 12th on the grid in Q2.

Hungarian GP Qualifying timsheeet

Driver Team Tim3
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.447
2. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.107
3. Lance Stroll Racing Point +0.930
4. Sergio Perez Racing Point +1.098
5. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1.327
6. Charles Leclerc Ferrari +1.370
7. Max Verstappen Red Bull +1.402
8. Lando Norris McLaren +1.519
9. Carlos Sainz McLaren +1.580
10. Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri No time set in Q3
Knocked out in Q2
11. Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:15.661
12. George Russell Williams 1:15.698
13. Alexander Albon Red Bull 1:15.715
14. Esteban Ocon Renault 1:15.742
15. Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:16.544
Knocked out in Q1
16. Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:16.152
17. Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1:16.204
18. Romain Grosjean Haas 1:16.407
19. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:16.506
20. Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:16.614

Watch the Hungarian GP live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Sunday’s race begins at 2.10pm. Get Sky F1 for an extra £10 a month now.

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