From a new name on pole position to a big opportunity for Ferrari, and from the Red Bulls way back to a threat of wet weather, we’ve picked some of the key areas to keep an eye on when the lights go out at the Hunger. ..
1. Russell is chasing his first win
In our pre-race weekend we emphasized how the Hungaroring would be a track that would tell us a lot about the progress Mercedes has made with their car, as it wouldn’t suit the W13 as well as Paul Ricard. So it’s fair to say that the final result of qualifying was a surprise.
READ MORE: Russell beats Sainz to take first pole at Hungaroring as Red Bulls ran into trouble
After a Friday that George Russell described as one of the worst Mercedes has had all season, the turnaround was remarkable as he took the first pole position of his career with a stunning final lap in the closing seconds of Q3.
When Red Bull ran into trouble, all eyes were on Ferrari, but Russell set off a lap Mercedes couldn’t do when he jumped Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc to give the team their first pole position of 2022.
But as Russell himself said, no points were awarded on Saturday and he is aiming for his first win given the starting position and performance over one lap, with Mercedes overall even more competitive in race trim.
The start will be crucial as track position is crucial in Hungary, but so will Russell’s handling of P1 pressure on the grid as he chases his first-ever win.
2022 Hungarian GP qualifying: George Russell grabs sensational first pole
2. Ferrari with a big chance
There was clearly some disappointment in the Ferrari camp after qualifying after what they considered a missed opportunity as Russell beat Sainz and Leclerc to pole position, but the reality of the situation is they are still in a very strong place to start the race.
With just one Mercedes driver ahead of them, both Sainz and Leclerc will feel they have a good chance of staying with Russell, and with two cars against one they can try different strategies to get ahead of the Briton.
READ MORE: ‘Felt I had the pace for pole,’ Sainz says after missing Russell’s last gasp in Hungary
But there are also the starting positions of the Red Bull drivers to take into account, with Max Verstappen in tenth position.
After a disappointing result in France last weekend, Ferrari has the chance to hit back quickly with a big result at the Hungaroring. Now they have to execute.
3. Red Bulls Out of Position
It was far from a smooth qualifying session for Red Bull, with Verstappen seeing his hopes of fighting for pole position end with a loss of power on his last run. Verstappen had already made a mistake on his first lap, which dropped him to tenth place on the grid. On a track that has traditionally been difficult to overtake, he now faces a very arduous task to make his way forward.
It was a similar story for Sergio Perez, who again became embroiled in uncertainty over the track limits in Q2. After being timed out in Austria two races ago, this time his first timed lap of Perez was removed and reinstated after stewards determined he had not exceeded the track limits in Turn 5.
READ MORE: ‘Many things could happen on Sunday’ – Verstappen optimistic about fighting back after power problem ruins Budapest qualifying
But that turned out to be his best lap of the session, with a final run showing no improvement and seeing Perez slip to P11 and miss just 0.071s. Starting eleventh doesn’t have the tire advantage it used to have, so that makes Perez’s race even more difficult.
If a year ago is anything to go by, both Verstappen and Perez are hoping to avoid getting into a first-lap drama and pick up the chunks of others’ mistakes if they want to make some early gains.
4. Norris in the mix
It was not just Verstappen who had to ruin his last attempt in Q3, as Lewis Hamilton also ran into problems and will start from seventh. The seven-time world champion had looked competitive during the session but missed late, and the power of the McLaren and Alpine cars – and a DRS problem on his Mercedes – pushed him into row four.
While Alpine will be happy to see both drivers start in the top six, Lando Norris is a dark horse entering the race after a very strong weekend for McLaren so far.
READ MORE: Norris ‘very happy with fourth’ after joint best qualifying of the year in Budapest
Norris was second fastest in FP2 on Friday and carried that form into qualifying to finish less than 0.4 seconds off pole position and a quarter of a second ahead of Esteban Ocon behind him.
It was a performance that suggests McLaren has a speed that could put them in competition with the cars in front of them, especially if Russell retains the lead but is unable to disappear in the way of Sainz and Leclerc. Norris already has one podium to his name this year and is well placed to challenge for another podium on Sunday.
5. Watching a lot
If Friday taught us anything it was that both Ferrari and McLaren wanted dry conditions for the rest of the weekend as they were particularly competitive in the heat, while rain could throw a variable into the mix.
FP3 showed exactly that threat with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi fastest on intermediate tires – the same ones Leclerc used, to the Monegask’s surprise – and the competitive order much less clear. Fortunately for those two teams, it dried up in time for qualifying, but there is some uncertainty about what the weather will do for the race itself.
HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action of a remarkable qualifying session in Budapest as Russell takes first pole in F1
After some severe thunderstorms on Saturday, Sunday also comes with a chance of rain, although the chance is less and it is forecast to strike earlier in the day if the track gets some showers.
The few hours before the race starts currently have a 40% chance of rain, but that’s probably still enough for teams to make nervous contingency plans as the weather will also be much cooler than the rest of the weekend, making it takes longer for the track to dry out if it gets wet.