George Russell took his first F1 pole position at the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix to keep the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at bay, while Max Verstappen starts a provisional 10th after losing power in Q3.
After a wet final practice session led by Nicholas Latifi, qualifying took place in dry conditions. Q1 was led by Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton took advantage of the track evolution to lead teammate George Russell. Drivers continued to pick up the pace in Q2, where Verstappen led Leclerc.
In Q3, Verstappen was left in despair by a loss of power, and with the Ferraris in provisional pole, he could only see his hopes for pole fade. Russell, however, caused a huge shock to the Scuderia with a 1m 17.377s lap that held Carlos Sainz at bay with 0.044s, and Charles Leclerc third by almost two tenths.
Lando Norris qualified on the second row, while Esteban Ocon shares row three with his Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton was seventh and former teammate Valtteri Bottas qualified eighth, leaving Daniel Ricciardo ninth and Verstappen an unlucky P10.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was a shocking elimination from Q2 in P11 – Perez was frustrated to hit traffic on his last attempt. Zhou Guanyu was pleased with his P12 performance for Alfa Romeo, while Kevin Magnussen took P13 in the upgraded Haas – although he was the driver who drew Perez’s wrath.
Lance Stroll finished 14th and Mick Schumacher was last in Q2 as he will start the Hungarian GP as provisional 15th.
Yuki Tsunoda missed Q2 by 0.035 seconds as he qualified 16th, ahead of Williams’ Alex Albon and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in P18. Pierre Gasly lost due to track limits and qualified 19th to make it a double Q1 elimination for AlphaTauri and FP3 star Nicholas Latifi rounded out the standings thanks to a mistake in the last corner.
After a painful display in France, Ferrari has taken their first steps towards redemption – with Mercedes back on top. For now at least…
AS IT HAPPENED
Q1 – Hamilton and Russell start on the front foot
After a soggy FP3 session – in which Nicholas Latifi took first place – qualifying started in dry conditions – with patches of ash gray clouds painting an ominous background.
Max Verstappen went to the top early on with a 1m 19.020s lap while the Ferraris stayed in the garage for the opening minutes of Q1. As more and more rubber was put down, times tumbled properly and Verstappen improved to take the brunt of Q1.
Late runs from Mercedes saw Lewis Hamilton crash the party with a time of 1m 18.374s, his teammate George Russell just 0.033s of his effort. Carlos Sainz improved to P3, 0.060s off the pace, while Verstappen was bumped to P4 by a margin of 0.135s to leave Lando Norris to round out the top five for McLaren.
Fernando Alonso was less than a tenth behind Norris in P6, Ricciardo just behind the two-time champion in seventh, while Charles Leclerc struggled to reach P8.
Esteban Ocon finished ninth and Valtteri Bottas completed a top 10 split with 0.561s. Zhou Guanyu was just behind his teammate and kept Kevin Magnussen at bay on P12. Sergio Perez was anonymous in P13, with 14th place Mick Schumacher and then Lance Stroll as the last two drivers to reach safety.
Yuki Tsunoda lost a Q2 place by 0.035 seconds, Alex Albon next on the board in P17, while Sebastian Vettel – whose crash damage in FP3 was repaired by the hard-working Aston Martin crew, along with Vettel himself – was depressed to finish 18th. to end.
Track limits in Turn 5 cost Pierre Gasly, who finished 19th, and FP3 leader Latifi finished last with a mistake in the last corner, despite putting down a purple first sector on his last run.
Eliminated: Tsunoda, Albon, Vettel, Gasly, Latifi
Q2 – Perez loses while Verstappen and Leclerc set the pace
Times in Q2 were in danger of falling below 1m 18s given the rapid evolution of the circuit, and Verstappen was the first to break that barrier with a time of 1m 17.703s, leaving Alonso at a distance by 0.201s. A lock-up on his first attempt cost Q1 leader Hamilton; Perez’s time was disallowed for track limits.
Verstappen did not improve on his first attempt, but Leclerc jumped to P2 by 0.065 seconds to push Alonso to P3. Sainz was 0.038 seconds behind his compatriot in P4, while Hamilton rounded out the top five.
Ricciardo improved with his latest attempt to find safety in P8, Ocon near the McLaren in P9 and Bottas the last driver to make the top-10 shootout.
Although Perez’s lap was reinstated, he lost Q3 by 0.071s, and the Red Bull driver raged in the form of Magnussen (P13) in Sector 1 on his final run against traffic. Between the Red Bull and the Haas, Zhou was in P12, the rookie who was happy with his show.
Stroll was almost seven-tenths from safety in 14th place – Schumacher in last and almost eight-tenths from safety.
Knockout: Perez, Zhou, Magnussen, Stroll, Schumacher
Chasing ‘strong points finish’, says Sergio Perez in P10 for Hungarian GP
Q3 – Ferrari snatched pole by magical Russell lap
The clouds did not lift, but Q3 was anything but dry in terms of action, with at least three drivers competing for pole position. Sainz set the early benchmark of 1m 17.505s, Russell came in second – almost half a second difference – while an error in Sector 3 gave Leclerc a preliminary third lead over Hamilton.
As for Verstappen, his first run put him seventh, 1.318 seconds off the pace. He soon reported a loss of power, causing a furious click of switches and dials in the RB18 cockpit. “Nothing works,” Verstappen barked as his hopes for pole began to fade.
Sainz knew he had left time on the table and shot to the top on his final run with a time of 1m 17.421s. But Russell’s breathtaking effort surpassed all, with the Briton taking his first pole position of his career and Mercedes’ first of the season with a blistering time of 1m 17.377s.
Leclerc therefore settled for third, with Norris sharing the second row with P4 – just under four-tenths the pace of Russell.
Ocon rounded out the top five and Alonso got Alpine to occupy the third row as he qualified sixth. Meanwhile, Hamilton was not happy when he settled for seventh, while former team-mate Bottas was eighth.
Ricciardo qualified ninth, while a beleaguered Verstappen made a provisional 10th start on Sunday after Red Bull failed to diagnose its costly power unit failure.
“I’m over the moon, absolutely bubbly. Yesterday was probably our worst Friday of the season and everyone worked so hard last night. We didn’t really know which direction to go and then that last lap came turn 1, mega turn 1, turn 2, turn 2 was mega, and the lap time just kept coming, just kept coming. I crossed the line, looked at the screen and saw we were going to P1. That was an incredible feeling!” -George Russell, Mercedes
Russell’s on pole, Ferrari chase and the Red Bulls have it all to do to recover when the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix gets underway on Sunday at 1500 local time.