Lewis Hamilton claimed his third pole position in a row and his fourth of the season to edge out Sebastian Vettel by less than four hundredths of a second in a tense qualifying session ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Red Bull Racing driver Vettel looked set for his own fourth pole of the season after setting an early Q3 benchmark of 1:19.506, eight tenths ahead of Hamilton’s first timed lap of the segment. The championship leader looked to be even more secure when, with his final run, he managed to shave another tenth off his best time.
Hamilton and Mercedes have dominated over a single lap at recent races, and it was not different in Budapest. A superb first sector saw the three-time Hungarian GP winner running three tenths quicker than the Red Bull Racing driver and though he lost time in the middle sector it was a strong enough foundation to allow the Briton to cross the line in P1.
Afterwards, Hamilton said he had been sure Vettel would be at the head of field.
“I was surprised when I came across the line and they said I’d got pole,” he admitted. “I had been expecting Sebastian to get it as he’d shown some serious pace. I didn’t even feel that I’d done that great a lap, so I was very surprised.”
Vettel, meanwhile, felt there “had not been much missing” from his lap and professed himself confident of a good race from P2 on the grid.
“I think Lewis did a good job,” he said. “I put a strong lap in. I had two sets of new tyres and I was pretty happy with both laps. Maybe on the second try I was losing out a little bit in the middle sector. Maybe I wasn’t aggressive enough there. I would have loved to have been a little bit faster and been on pole but I think it puts us in a great place for tomorrow.”
Romain Grosjean took third place for Lotus, out-qualifying sixth-placed team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for just the second time this year. Hamilton’s team-mate Nico Rosberg was fourth, with Fernando Alonso fifth for Ferrari ahead of Raikkonen and the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa.
Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed another good qualifying session and will line up eighth on the grid. Afterwards he said he had got the maximum from his STR8.
"It was good to get into Q3 again,” he said. “We seem to make a habit of finding a little bit extra for qualifying, although ideally, I'd like to be on the pace right from Friday and chip away at the lap times within the top ten. I think we got the most out of the car this afternoon. I was happy with the way I drove and I am pleased with my form at the moment.”
Behind him, McLaren’s Sergio Perez recovered from a FP3 crash that left his crew building his car around him at the start of qualifying to claim ninth.
For Mark Webber, though, it was a frustrating session. A soon as he took to the track for the first time in Q1, the Red Bull Racing driver was told he had a KERS failure. He made it through to the second phase of the session in P13 and dug deep in Q2 to claim P8 and a spot in the top-10 shootout. However, on his first run in the final segment, he encountered another problem and abandoned his run. He failed to emerge from the garage again and will line up tenth.
“That was a massively disappointing qualifying session,” said Webber. “Obviously we had a lot of issues with the car and we left a lot of lap time in the garage, with items which weren’t working on the car at their optimum. We had no KERS, and a basic gearbox setting that we couldn’t get out of, which cost a lot of lap time.”
Elsewhere there were few surprises, save for the Q1 exit of Paul Di Resta. The Scot will line up 18th and afterwards said he had no explanation for his lack of pace.
“A tough session and I am a bit confused as to why we struggled so much on the soft tyre,” he said. “Throughout all the sessions we’ve looked more competitive on the softs, but in Q1 they just didn’t switch on. We’ve given ourselves a lot of work to do tomorrow, but we will go away and come back refreshed and ready to fight.”
2013 Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying result
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.388
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:19.426
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.595
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:19.720
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:19.791
6 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1:19.851
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:19.929
8 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:20.641
9 Sergio Pérez McLaren 1:22.398
10 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing no time
11 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:20.569
12 Nico Hülkenberg Sauber 1:20.580
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1:20.777
14 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:21.029
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:21.133
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:21.219
17 Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1:21.724
18 Paul di Resta Force India 1:22.043
19 Charles Pic Caterham 1:23.007
20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:23.333
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:23.787
|22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:23.997