Championship leader Sebastian Vettel will start the Hungarian Grand Prix on pole as Ferrari took a one-two in qualifying for Sunday’s race. It was another struggle for Lewis Hamilton who will start fourth on the grid.
Friday had been dominated by Daniel Ricciardo who finished fastest in both practice sessions. What a difference a day makes though as final practice saw Sebastian Vettel finish fastest in final practice as he posted a time 1.464 seconds faster than the track record set 13 years ago. It was a Ferrari 1-2 and that set the scene for qualifying. The big news came from the Williams team as Felipe Massa was ruled out of the Grand Prix due to illness and will be replaced by Paul di Resta who’ll be taking part in his first F1 race for three years.
Ferrari put in another great performance to take a 1-2 in qualifying with Sebastian Vettel finishing ahead of his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. It was the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas who was third fastest but he was 0.254 seconds behind Vettel with an unhappy Lewis Hamilton back in fourth
It’s not been a great weekend for Mercedes and after closing the gap on Ferrari in recent races, it’s looking as if the points gap is going to widen again on a track where overtaking isn’t easy. It appeared to be tyre problems that were costing Lewis Hamilton dearly as he was heard bemoaning tyre vibration during Q2.
There were more problems in the top 10 shoot-out as Hamilton ran wide at Turn Four causing him to abort his first lap. With Vettel in fine form and setting a time of 1.16.276 and there was little chance of the British driver bettering that figure as he lost ground in the final sector.
It wasn’t a great follow-up to the success that Red Bull enjoyed on Friday. Daniel Ricciardo had engine hydraulics problems in final practice and he was still less than happy about how his car was progressing in qualifying and could only manage sixth on the grid, one place behind his team-mate Max Verstappen. Nico Hulkenburg was in seventh but will start 12th after receiving a five-place-grid penalty for an unauthorised gearbox change. That means he’ll be behind his team-mate Jolyon Palmer who finished 11th. Probably not for long though as Hulkenburg was 0.8 seconds faster than Palmer in qualifying. The improvement shown by McLaren continues and after Hulkenburg’s demotion, Fernando Alonso starts seventh on the grid and Stoffel Vandoorne eighth.
After being drafted into the Williams team for this race, Paul Di Resta finished 19th fastest, not bad considering his lack of experience in cars with a hybrid-engine. “I have gone out and done what I could. It is going to be a long day tomorrow,” he said after qualifying.
There were varying moods in the top teams after qualifying. Sebastian Vettel said he’s really happy with where Ferrari are as a team. Not so happy was Lewis Hamilton who felt Mercedes were unable to match the Ferrari drivers. His view of Sunday’s race is a bit depressing saying, “I think it is going to be an easy breeze for them tomorrow.”
Overtaking isn’t easy at all on this track but the driver on pole has failed to win this race in the past three years. Mercedes have been off the pace this weekend and with Ferrari dominating today it’s going to be difficult for them to get ahead of Vettel and Raikkonen. I’ll be back with another blog in August, till then enjoy your racing.