Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position in seven races with a scintillating lap in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying, locking out the front row with Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas as the Briton’s championship rival Max Verstappen had to settle for third.
The seven-time world champion got the job done on his first run in Q3, setting a lap that was three tenths of a second quicker than his Red Bull rival.
On the second runs, Hamilton got out of the garage first and ambled down the pit lane, keeping an eye on his mirrors with Verstappen close behind. He continued to cruise all the way to the pit exit and while he picked up the pace, his out lap was slow and bunched up the field.
As a result, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez could failed to cross the line in time to start a timed lap, the Mexican banging his steering wheel in frustration, with his race engineer saying on team radio it was “a bit of gamesmanship”.
Hamilton set a slow first sector and didn’t improve in the other two either, but it mattered not as while Verstappen set personal bests in sector two and three, it wasn’t enough to improve on third.
That gave Hamilton his eighth pole in Hungary – tying the record for most poles at a single circuit – while Mercedes locked out the front row for the fifth time in their last seven attempts at the Hungaroring.
Intriguingly, the top two teams have gone for different strategies, Mercedes opting for the medium tyres on both their cars, while Red Bull have gone for the soft compound, which should deliver more grip off the start but will not last as long to shorten the first stint.
Pierre Gasly was a very strong fifth – 11 places clear of AlphaTauri team mate Yuki Tsunoda – for his eighth top-six start of the year, with Lando Norris improving on his second run to leap up three places to sixth, in what is his highest ever start at the Hungaroring.
Charles Leclerc was the leading Ferrari – his team mate Carlos Sainz having crashed out in Q2 after losing the car at the penultimate corner – in seventh, with Esteban Ocon outqualifying Alpine team mate Fernando Alonso by a position for the first time in six races.
Sebastian Vettel completed the top 10 in his Aston Martin, as he finished outside the top five in Hungary for the first time since 2008.
More to follow.