The big book of superlatives has certainly been put to good use today, as Lewis Hamilton took an emphatic pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix. At arguably his best circuit of the year, Hamilton was imperious, following on from three untroubled practice sessions and managed to post a masterful flying lap to end his charge in Q3 and leave teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg trailing in his wake, to the tune of a rather surprising six tenths. Rosberg’s qualifying was hampered by balance issues, which seriously hampered him in the technical sector two.
It may be the usual front row, but in unusual circumstances, with Rosberg left scratching his head after another tricky Saturday afternoon.
The Best Performances
Several impressive moments and performances proved to be the most eye-catching elements of an otherwise routine day at the Hungaroring. Hamilton’s stunning pole lap is a notable inclusion, but others also deserve serious admiration.
One such performer is Daniel Ricciardo, who managed to split the Ferrari duo and secure a second row spot. He and teammate Daniil Kvyat had threatened such a result throughout practice and given the Red Bull’s impressive race pace demonstrated in FP2 yesterday, Ricciardo has an opportunity to beat Sebastian Vettel, who starts third, to the podium tomorrow.
To make the rear guard action even more complicated for Ferrari, Ricciardo is the only man in the top ten to head into tomorrow’s race with a new set of soft compound tyres – the much preferred race tyre – having been the only man to get through Q1 on a medium compound set. If tomorrow is a two stop race, as is predicted, Ricciardo will have a rubber advantage in his pocket.
Another star performer this afternoon was Kimi Raikkonen. Albeit out-qualified by his teammate for the eighth time this season, the Iceman’s fifth place was an excellent return having missed the qualifying simulation runs in FP3, after what his race engineer Dave Greenwood described as a “dramatic water leak”. Kimi is famously a driver who needs a smooth build up to the weekend’s crescendo in order to extract the maximum from the car and as such, the bounce-back-ability shown by Raikkonen this afternoon was very impressive, particularly given how competitive the battle was in Q3, with a strong Red Bull joining the usual suspects.
An Iconic Symbol
Elsewhere, McLaren Honda endured another disappointing day, as despite the promise shown in practice, they fell short again courtesy of reliability gremlins. Jenson Button dropped out of the session at the Q1 stage, after an ERS deployment issue meant that he was running reduced power during the run down to turn one. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso dropped out at the Q2 phase, as his McLaren came to a halt on the pit entry.
In typical style, Alonso proceeded to push the car into the pit-lane, eventually with the help of marshals and to the delight of fans. The incident had echos of Nigel Mansell’s efforts at Dallas in 1984, fortunately minus the fainting. His endeavors may have been in vain, given that he was unable to return to the circuit as the FIA stated that he had stopped on the track while the session was live, but they did demonstrate his dedication to the cause.