F1 – Hungarian GP – Qualifying
Szia, MiniFans! We’re back in Hungary, a country that has been hosting a race in the Hungaroring ever since 1986, the third longest streak after Monaco and Monza. It’s the first racing weekend after Silverstone’s first lap incident and Red Bull’s appeal, so the air is, at least, a bit tense between the two drivers that will fight for the title.
Before qualifying even took off, it was pretty crystal clear that Schumacher wouldn’t take place, as he had crashed his Haas in the third free practice. When Q1 finally kicked off, his team wasn’t done with his car, seemingly accepting a last place on the grid, bar any penalties from other drivers, but Mick stayed at the back of the box, all geared up just in case his team did finish in time and allowed him a go. The rest of the backmarkers did leave the pits as usual, setting their first laps, before the big dogs came out and started colouring in the sectors in purples. The big surprise during the first stint was Sainz, settling in fourth, less than half a second slower than Verstappen’s time.
The last stint didn’t change things, save for a couple positions for the ones who were already qualified for Q2, which meant Russell could not make it further than the first session. The eliminated drivers in Q1 were Tsunoda (P16), Russell (P17), Latifi (P18), Mazepin (P19) and Schumacher (P20, didn’t start).
Q2 was where things might turn out interesting. It was pretty set in stone that both Verstappen and Hamilton would use medium tyres, but Pérez and Bottas joined the party. The choice by the Mexican driver was a bit of a surprise, as he hadn’t managed to even be close to his teammate in the previous session. They were mostly saved by people on softs pulling slower laps than before, up until a red flag was shown. It had been caused by Sainz crashing after losing the car in the last corner and destroying his almost sure presence in the Q3, stopping the session.
The six minutes and forty seconds left were resumed when the barriers were fixed, but no one really left boxes until just a handful of minutes were left. Unlike the first attempts, drivers did lower their lap times, including Verstappen. This came as a surprise, due to him doing it with soft tyres, while Mercedes kept their mediums, giving us two whole different strategies for tomorrow’s race. The eliminated drivers in Q2 were Ricciardo (P11), Stroll (P12), Raikkonen (P13), Giovinazzi (P14) and Sainz (P15).
In a circuit where red flags are easy to be shown, it is a necessity to get a good lap since the moment you touch the track. Hamilton took this to heart, topping the timing tower above his teammate and Verstappen, who was half a second slower in virtually the same conditions as before. A message by Leclerc on radio explained that the wind had changed, which could have been a factor in Verstappen’s slow lap, who complained about lack of grip. In their last attempt, Hamilton seemed to toy with Verstappen in the lap straight out of boxes, going so slow that Pérez saw the checkered flag and Verstappen was too close for comfort. None of them changed places, leaving them in the same positions as they were after the first stint.
The first round after the big Silverstone incident and all that has surrounded it ever since has been won by Hamilton However, the most important one will come tomorrow. With both of them starting on different tyres and thus different strategies for the race, it’s every man for himself in a race were emotions are running high and the tension can be cut with a knife.