2014 Hungarian Grand Prix: Saturday Analysis

And people say that Formula One in 2014 is boring – how wrong they are! Another remarkable qualifying session packed with drama entertained the fans who had made the journey from all corners of Europe to the Hungaroring, with the German fans ending the most content, with an all-German front row. Nico Rosberg edged out Sebastian Vettel after the reigning champion took provisional pole in what was a crazy Q3. Lewis Hamilton’s run of bad luck continued after an oil leak caused a dramatic fire which ended the Brit’s session and left his mechanics with a mountain to climb tonight as they look to repair the heavily damaged W05. Contrasting emotions at Mercedes once again, with Rosberg in P1 but Hamilton facing a pit-lane start on one of the hardest circuits for overtaking.

Two Champs Left Frustrated

Just when Hamilton needed a turn in fortunes, bad luck strikes once again. On the back of his brake failure just a week ago, his qualifying session ended in disaster for a second time in succession as his W05 was halted with more reliability issues. This time an oil leak caused a dramatic fire as Lewis was about to complete his first flying lap. Grinding to a halt in the pit entry, with flames billowing from the car, Lewis looked on in disappointment. Another “gift” for Nico, however, the German still had to deliver the perfect lap in Q3, which he managed once again to great effect in tricky conditions.
Evidently, today’s disaster is even more painful than the events of a week ago, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the damage to the car is so much more significant than in Germany and as such, Hamilton will start from the pit-lane as almost the entire powertrain will need to be replaced. Meanwhile, the Hungaroring is one of the worst circuits for a drama of this magnitude to occur at, as overtaking is notoriously difficult. Lewis will unquestionably have to push the envelope of sensible moves tomorrow – even more so than in Germany. P2 is out of the question unless safety cars play into his hands, while a top five finish is perhaps more likely.
In addition to Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen was also a big name casualty in Q1, as he was knocked out of qualifying than none other than Jules Bianchi – the man who is supposedly Ferrari bound and is likely to replace Raikkonen, whenever that will be. However, Kimi will feel aggrieved at his team, as it was a poor strategic call by Ferrari which led to his elimination. With Hamilton and Maldonado out of qualifying, Ferrari underestimated the speed of Marussia on an evolving circuit. While it could be argued that Kimi should have done a better time, he would have done on the option tyre had the team had acknowledged that their position in the Q2 line-up was not secure.

Vettel’s Found His Mojo!

Sebastian Vettel, former king of Q3, seems to have found his form again of late. The German has kicked on from his promising performance at Hockenheim and today, it looked as though he would snatch an unexpected pole position for approximately ten seconds, before Nico Rosberg nailed an even more impressive lap time to demonstrate the strength of the Mercedes. Regardless, Vettel seemed pleased with P2, and why wouldn’t he be.
The power deficiencies of the Renault engine are obviously less apparent in Hungary than at most other venues, but it is not just the circuit which Vettel has managed to master. He finally seems to be getting to grips with his RB10 – something which Daniel Ricciardo managed as soon as the season commenced. Perhaps Vettel’s resurgence is related to the loss of FRIC suspension. It is admittedly unlikely, considering that FRIC has been a cornerstone of car development for several years, but the balance shift could have potentially played into Sebastian’s hands. 
He will unquestionably come under pressure from both Valtteri Bottas in P3 and Daniel Ricciardo in P4 tomorrow, but he is certainly in the best position to claim the best-of-the-rest title, considering Williams’ downforce deficiencies and his teammate’s pace deficit this weekend.

Magnussen Meets Hamilton

At least Lewis will have some company in the pitlane come 2pm tomorrow, as Kevin Magnussen will join him, following his dramatic Q3 shunt at turn one. As the rain began to fall, drivers arrived at the first corner to find an incredibly greasy surface. Nico Rosberg was first on the scene, but managed to keep the Mercedes out of the barriers, which was something that Magnussen was unable to do. It was a big accident which prompted a red flag. Ultimately, this red flag period meant that the final runs in Q3 were completed in dry conditions. The accident has necessitated the need to change the chassis and gearbox, which means that McLaren have as much work to do as Mercedes tonight. A bitterly disappointing day for Magnussen who has looked to be in excellent form so far this weekend.

Qualifying Result

1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.715
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.201 +0.486
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.354 +0.639
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:23.391 +0.676
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.909 +1.194
6 Felipe Massa Williams 1:24.223 +1.508
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:24.294 +1.579
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:24.720 +2.005
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:24.775 +2.060
10 Kevin Magnussen McLaren No time
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:24.706
12 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:25.136
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:25.211
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:25.260
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:25.337
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:27.419
17 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:26.792
18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:27.139
19 Max Chilton Marussia 1:27.819
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:28.643
21 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time
22 Pastor Maldonado Lotus No time  

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