F1 – Hungarian GP – Qualifying
Szia, MiniFans! We’re in Hungary and ready for the action at the Hungaroring, but the clouds gloomily placed over the circuit unnerved teams and drivers alike, who had already experienced a wet FP3, but the track was dry and there was no rain forecasted close to the circuit.
Not knowing whether the best time would come at the beginning of the session (if it ended up raining) or at the end (if it remained dry), teams weren’t shy about letting their drivers go out early, just in case. The main exception was Ferrari, with both their cars being the last ones out. Verstappen settled on top easily, with Norris keeping up McLaren’s surprising pace to be second, before Pérez, Russell and Sainz booted him down to fifth. Leclerc’s first run wasn’t too good, but he took little time to fix it.
Positions changed quickly at the bottom of the timing tower, with drivers continuously jumping up and down in and around the elimination zone, in part thanks to deleted times due to track limits, while Mercedes did something we haven’t seen in a while: they locked the first two positions, but Sainz was barely half a tenth behind them, and Verstappen wasn’t too far off either. The eliminated drivers in Q1 were Tsunoda (P16), Albon (P17), Vettel (P18), Gasly (P19) and Latifi (P20).
Rain still hadn’t made a visit, so slicks remained as the choice, and both Haas, who had made it through, were the first out. The battle for the ‘best of the rest’ was heating up, as Alonso managed a time barely two tenths slower than Verstappen and was followed by both McLarens. However, the Dutchman’s teammate still didn’t have a time locked in with less than twelve minutes to go due to his only one being scrapped, and he was the first one to call for some rain drops on his visor.
In a shocking move, race direction reinstated Pérez’s deleted lap, but that wasn’t enough for him to make it through, and his place was taken by Bottas. The eliminated drivers in Q2 were Pérez (P11), Zhou (P12), Magnussen (P13), Stroll (P14) and Schumacher (P15).
Sainz came out on top in the first stint of Q3, but Verstappen had only managed a seventh place as the sole Red Bull representative, with Russell splitting both Ferraris and Alonso back in the once very familiar to him fifth place. Verstappen complained about lack of power on radio, and couldn’t do a real fastest lap, dropping down to tenth.
In a surprise sweep, Russell managed to snatch pole position away from Sainz with his best lap of the weekend, in a car that didn’t seem fully capable of beating the Ferraris or the Red Bulls, while Verstappen’s car gave up on him and couldn’t be fixed quickly, and Ferrari will surround the Brit on the grid.
Dark clouds were present in every shot taken from the track, but the rain gave them a chance and didn’t fall, allowing for a dry qualifying. Some surprises made an appearance here and there, but the biggest one came when the checkered flag had already been waved: George Russell scored the first pole position of his career, and we already know what happened the last time a driver got his first pole, so all that remains to see is whether he will be able to repeat Carlos Sainz’s Silverstone feat.