Lewis Hamilton will start the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position after outpacing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at Budapest on Saturday.
It is Hamilton’s fifth pole at the Hungaroring, and he beat Rosberg by over half a second for his ninth pole in 10 races.
In the top-10 shoot-out, Hamilton was three-tenths up on Rosberg after the first run on used soft-compound tyres in Q3, as both – unusually for them – had been forced to use the softer rubber to get through Q1.
On their final sets of new tyres, Rosberg improved to 1m22.595s, which wasn’t enough to usurp Hamilton, who went faster anyway on 1m22.020s.
Rosberg battled against handling problems all through the qualifying hour. He was very agitated after his first run on mediums in Q1, complaining: “Something’s wrong with the balance, so much understeer. Get into the data, look at the settings.”
Although he was less annoyed on his soft-tyred Q1 run, when he was just a tenth off Hamilton, he was still demanding answers from the pitwall.
And in Q2 Rosberg’s issues deepened: “Big understeer, it’s come back, more than before.”
Big fight for best of the rest
The battle for the second row was intense between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Vettel admitted to a mistake at the last corner on his first run, which was just over half a second off Hamilton at that point, while Ricciardo said he “struggled to rotate the car” in Turn 2 – but they were just 0.043s apart.
Vettel’s second run achieved a 1m22.739s to seal third, with Ricciardo improving to 1m22.774s in fourth.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen will start fifth, three tenths slower than Vettel, and will lead an all-Finnish row three with Valtteri Bottas’s Williams.
Daniil Kvyat qualified seventh in the second Red Bull, ahead of Felipe Massa’s Williams, Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) and Romain Grosjean (Lotus).
Force Indias fall in Q2
Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise casualty in Q2, as his Force India had looked rapid in FP3, although he failed to make it into the shoot-out by just 0.02s. He will start 11th, ahead of Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso – which had also appeared strong in practice but fell short in qualifying. “Bad qually,” he rued on his in-lap.
Sergio Perez qualified 13th in the second Force India, ahead of Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus, who suffered a big lock-up at Turn 1 that ruined his lap.
The session was red flagged with 7:42s to go on the clock when Fernando Alonso’s McLaren ground to a halt in the pitlane entry. He will start 15th.
Button knocked out in Q1
The big victim of Q1 was McLaren's Jenson Button, who just failed to make it in, failing to knock out Sainz by 0.116s after encountering an ERS problem: “We didn’t get deployment on the pit straight,” he rued.
Both Saubers went out, Marcus Ericsson just outpacing Felipe Nasr, who admitted “I lost it on the last two corners”, while Roberto Merhi beat Will Stevens by half a second in the Manor duel.