Lewis Hamilton claimed a second successive pole and fourth this season with a carefully timed final flying lap at the Hungaroring on Saturday. He lines up next to his McLaren Mercedes teammate Heikki Kovalainen for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton claimed a second successive pole and fourth this season with a carefully timed final flying lap at the Hungaroring on Saturday. He lines up next to his McLaren Mercedes teammate Heikki Kovalainen for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton's pole-winning lap, taken on race fuel load, was 1 minute, 20.899 seconds around the 2.722-mile course. Kovalainen, ninth before his final lap, ran 1:21.140. Ferrari's Felipe Massa will start third, BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica fourth, Toyota's Timo Glock fifth and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen sixth.
"The pace of the car is great," Hamilton said, adding ominously for the field: "I've still got a little bit of time in the bag."
The Englishman, leading Massa in Formula One drivers points by four, praised Kovalainen's effort for a McLaren front row.
"It's about time we did that for the team," he said.
Managing tire wear on track temperatures of 110 Fahrenheit became critical to outcome. Two of Bridgestone's softer compounds were in play with the harder version winning over teams as each qualifying session progressed.
"I was planning to use softer ones with the heavier fuel load in the last part of the qualifying, but then we changed our minds when everyone else went quick with the harder tire," Kovalainen said.
If McLaren's pace seemed a foregone conclusion -- Hamilton led second and third practices -- the excellent effort of Toyota was not. Fresh off a nasty crash in the German Grand Prix, Glock placed himself second-quick through third qualifying until final-lap efforts by Kubica, Massa and Kovalainen moved the German downfield. That left him faster than Ferrari's world champion Raikkonen, ex-world champion Fernando Alonso for Renault, Mark Webber for Red Bull, teammate Jarno Trulli, and Renault rookie Nelsinho Piquet. But when the moment came for Glock, too, to make a great leap forward, he could not improve his 1:21.326.
Rounding out the grid are Sebastian Vettel for Scuderia Toro Rosso, Jenson Button for Honda, David Coulthard for Red Bull, Sebastien Bourdais for Toro Rosso, Nico Rosberg for Williams, Nick Heidfeld for BMW Sauber, Kazuki Nakajima for Williams, Rubens Barrichello for Honda, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil for Force India.
Massa, quickest of the day with a 1:19.044 in the typically fastest second session, cited traffic as keeping him off the front row.
"I was not 100 percent happy with my laps in Q3," he said. "I went a little bit at the wrong time on the track and there was so much car around. And most of the people who's very, very slow on the outlap, that, for sure, especially in my case I like to go slightly quicker but I cannot pass them. So it's really tricky for the preparation of the tires. I couldn't prepare the tires like I'm supposed to and I couldn't do the great lap as I did in Q1 and Q2 especially."
Kubica had languished through most of qualifying, putting a serious scare into BMW Sauber fans after Nick Heidfeld missed advancing from the first session. An enormous final-lap push by the Pole put him fourth quick with a 1:21.281.
"I am really happy with the result," Kubica said "This was certainly one of my best qualifying sessions so far this season. I was not expecting to start from fourth as the car has been quite difficult to drive over the entire weekend. We struggled a bit with the balance, but in the end I was able to make the harder tire compound work very well and here we are. I am now looking forward to the race."
Glock, too, was all smiles. "That was a very good qualifying session for me and I'm obviously delighted," Glock said. "We made a good start in first practice yesterday. The team did a good job overnight and we made the right choice over setup. It wasn't easy today because we had a very tight choice over tires so we had to make a close decision for every lap. But in the end my engineers stayed cool and got it right. In Q2 the car felt perfect. Then on the very last lap it was a bit trickier again because the tires didn't behave quite as well, but I'm happy with P5. We are in a great situation for tomorrow. It's good for all of us and after Hockenheim this is the perfect answer for the faith I have in the whole team."
Vettel danced in the top 10 through the first two sessions before Red Bull teammate-to-be Webber bumped him at the checkered flag. "A shame to miss out on Q3 by one hundredth, but we expected it to be tight," Vettel said. "We can be happy, though, especially given I only managed nine laps yesterday. It means we did a good job today. Now we can do what we like in terms of fuel load for the race and, hopefully, find a good strategy. I've yet to do a long run this weekend, but I think we can find a good compromised between qualifying and race pace, and we have a good setup on the car."
After looking as though both Williams FW30s would be left after the first round, Rosberg pulled himself into the second session only to have the car rebel. "I made a mistake on my fast lap in Q1 and lost two-and-a-half tenths in one corner, so my Q1 time did not show the true potential of the car," Rosberg said. "We then had a good chance of making it into Q3, but a hydraulic problem meant I couldn't go out at all in Q2, which was disappointing. It's pretty interesting here tirewise as both are very soft on this track."
Button bumped Heidfeld with a personal-best time good for 12th.
"I'm happy to have qualified in P12 today after a good lap on the final run in Q2 pushed me a few places up the grid," Button said. "We've definitely made some progress with the new developments to the car and in particular the new rear suspension is working well and this has enabled us to improve the car step by step over the weekend. I got the most out of the car today and it's encouraging to see we were only three-tenths away from the top 10 as it has been a while since we were that close."
Heidfeld, whose top-10 qualifying consistency began falling off in Monaco this season, said he thought Bourdais had a case to answer for being in the German's way. Traffic ahead of Bourdais could mean Heidfeld's argument falls on deaf ears.
"Certainly Nick's result is disappointing," team boss Mario Theissen said. "He complained several times about traffic on his last, and important, fast lap and missed getting into Q2. We should be very happy if he scores a point from this grid position."
Starting out of the top 15 doesn't help what seems to be a job fight for Heidfeld. Theissen expressed confidence to news agency AFP that Heidfeld can work his way out of his apparent slump. But the team leader held off saying Heidfeld would retain his job. Heidfeld has outscored teammate Kubica 21-16 the past four races.
Barrichello went into Turn 11 too hot, which scuppered his chance at Q2. He starts ahead of the Force India final row. Fisichella cited poor grip but he edged his teammate.
"It was a hot, tough qualifying, and I am not 100 percent happy with the session," Sutil said. "The tires did not behave as we expected, and I had lots of graining, which meant we couldn't get a good balance out of the car. I decided to run the harder set of tires in the end for my fastest lap, but at least I didn't get the effects of graining with them."