The Scuderia secures the first starting row for today’s Grand Prix at the Hungaroring – Mercedes speaks about damage limitation (Photo source: f1fanatic.com)
In the last qualifying session before the summer break, Sebastian Vettel was able to secure his second pole position of the season by setting a new lap record (1:16:276). Kimi Räikkönen was only slightly slower (+0.168 seconds) than his teammate and completes the third front row lockout of the season. Therefore, the Scuderia succeeded in pushing its rivals Mercedes into the second row. Valtteri Bottas is going to start the race from third place followed by his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull Racing could not meet its own expectations of starting the race from P3. “My lap was not perfect!”, stated a dissatisfied Max Verstappen. The Dutchman had a “slight crossbar in turn 6. Otherwise, third place would have been realistic.”, added Red Bull’s Helmut Marko. The Dutchman will start today’s race from the fifth position and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who was the fastest man on track on Friday, ended up on P6. As a cause, he explains the hydraulic defect during the Saturday practice session. “The car felt quite different in Q1 than yesterday afternoon. It was difficult to recover from this morning’s problem.”
Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg was able to qualify seventh with a huge gap to Ricciardo (+0.650) but will drop five places due to a gearbox change. “I’m very satisfied. More is not possible, I did my best” says Hülkenberg. “We really have a good car here, and this time I’m confident that this is not only the case in qualifying, but also that the race will be a good one. The penalty is not great, especially here in Hungary it’s a bitter pill, but the gear box could not be saved.”
The Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying was a good one for McLaren Honda as both drivers qualified to Q3. Consequently, Fernando Alonso was able to celebrate his birthday with P8 (due to Hülkenberg’s penalty 7) and is hoping for a nice late birthday gift during the race. Of course, the McLaren Honda team was celebrating the Spaniards birthday a little bit. The TOP 10 was completed by the second McLaren Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
Back to the title fight: After the qualifications, Toto Wolff said that “the track is somehow not us and Sebastian was in his own league.” His driver Lewis Hamilton was not able to drive a clean lap during Friday’s free practice sessions and on Saturday morning. The Briton often complained about vibrations, especially during Q2 and 3. Nevertheless, he was able to drive the fastest lap in Q2. In the decisive round, however, Hamilton drove very far in turn 4 and aborted his lap. “Lewis could have driven the pole if this mistake had not happened, “Wolff said after the session.
At the end of the day, Kimi Räikkönen was a candidate for pole position as well. The Finnish man made a slight driving error in the chicane and lost pole position by 0.168 seconds. “I’ve thrown it away, I’m disappointed.”, he stated on the main straight during the interview with Will Buxton right after the session.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel enjoyed “his sunny, perfect day” to the fullest. In this opinion the Ferrari has been “unbelievable”, the team has caught “in the right window” for the set-up and he just likes the circuit. The German added that nothing has been changed from Friday to Saturday and added that it always a pleasure for the team and the drivers to rule out the complete front row. And he adds: “The main task is on Sunday, we have not won anything yet.”
After the session, Bottas admitted enviously that “they had a good car and they did everything right on this track.” and his teammate Lewis Hamilton added: “This was not a simple weekend so far, the car felt quite good in qualifying and with the exception of Q3, the times were good.” Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda was not as optimistic as Toto Wolff. In his opinion pole position was not possible this weekend. “If he [Lewis Hamilton] had done better, he might have become third.”, said the Austrian. “This is one of the most difficult tracks to overtake, so the start will be very important,” says Bottas and says that the race will be a tough one for the team. Moreover, no one at Mercedes is expecting a victory. “In motorsport, everything can happen, we have already experienced the craziest races, but from the pure Pace, both Ferrari is in front, with a victory being the smaller percentage.”, says Toto Wolff.
Read the P11 to P20 driver statements here:
P11 – J. Palmer (Renault)
“The car’s been working well. I’m a bit disappointed not to be in Q3, but I will start from P10 on the grid tomorrow, which is a decent position to score some points from. I was in the top ten yesterday in FP1 and today in Q1, so we’ve seen there’s good potential from the car. We’ve got some new tyres available, so we have options; all we need is a good rhythm in the race.”
P12 – E. Ocon (Sahara Force India)
“We were hoping to be higher up today, but it’s not our strongest track and we were just missing the pace to make the top ten. I still have a good feeling in the car and our race pace will be more competitive. It looks as though I will gain a place because of the grid penalty for Nico [Hulkenberg] and I still believe a strong points finish is achievable tomorrow.”
P13 – D. Kvyat (Scuderia Toro Rosso)
“Unfortunately, I’ve been penalised with a three position grid penalty for tomorrow’s race, so I will now be starting from P16. There was a bit of a miss-communication, so I didn’t know that anyone was coming behind and we’ve now got a penalty for blocking another car… It’s a shame, because today had been quite a good day: our overall performance and my feeling with the car was okay, even if the balance changed a bit throughout the qualifying session. I just missed out on Q3 by a couple of tenths but we ended up more or less where we expected to be. My feeling with the car is quite good and now all I can hope for is a different type of race, an eventful one, otherwise it will be difficult to overtake here. We will obviously try and do our best, make our tyres last and see where we end up.”
P14 – S. Perez (Sahara Force India)
“It was my most difficult qualifying session of the year. I haven’t yet managed to feel comfortable with the front end of the car: we made a lot of changes from yesterday, even between third practice and qualifying, but we couldn’t solve the issues. In Q2, my first lap was pretty poor and that threw my reference points for the second attempt. In the end, I couldn’t put together a good enough lap and we didn’t’ maximise our potential. We are starting 14th and it’s not ideal on a track where overtaking is really tough, but I hope tomorrow we can be strong. The strategy options are quite limited, but if we can make a good start, we can fight for points.”
P15 – Romain Grosjean (Haas F1 Team)
“I guess it’s the best we could do. We both had to overdrive the car in Q1 and I managed to get through to Q2 where I tried really, really hard on the last lap. I couldn’t quite get better than 15th. When we lose all of Friday with one car – actually we can say we lost all of Friday with my car as well – we just had too many problems. Things were going up and down and we couldn’t really get anything, so it’s very, very difficult. We need to improve as a team and get the car better from the first lap in FP1. If we’re getting decent lap times there we can move forward. Here, we’ve just been struggling. I crashed on the first lap in FP1, so we’ve been in a very difficult position. I thought this would be the same as Austria and we’d be generating temperature in the tires. It’s all related to tires and we’re just not working them properly. What is the key? I don’t know, but it’s something that’s not quite working.”
P16 – K. Magnussen (Haas F1 Team)
“We haven’t been competitive this weekend, for some reason. We were expecting to be okay here. We knew it wasn’t going to be the best because of the slow corners, but at least it’s a short, twisty track without big straights. We shouldn’t be too bad in theory, but we haven’t had the pace. On top of that, it’s been a difficult weekend not doing Friday. Well, I did four laps on Friday and a few more this morning. It’s not good preparation to go into qualifying. I made the most of it. I was only one hundredth of a second from Romain and I had the same lap time as Perez who was P15, so Q2 was right there. So with that little running, I’m quite happy with that.”
P17 – L. Stroll (Williams Martini Racing)
“It was not the best qualifying in terms of position, but we knew it would be difficult for us, and in the end we just have to be more competitive. We were only a tenth or so off Q2, and it is frustrating as I think there were a couple of things on my lap where I could have made up a tenth, but you can always say that afterwards. It is just simply tough for us this weekend, we are not as quick as we want to be and, although there are a couple of other things, it is pretty much down to sheer lack of downforce. We need to keep pushing to see what happens for tomorrow’s race.”
P18 – P. Wehrlein (Sauber F1 Team)
“I am satisfied with today’s result because I was able to get back into the car in good shape after yesterday’s crash. The mechanics did a great job overnight fixing the car, and I am grateful for the hard work they put in.”
P19 – P. di Resta (Williams Martini Racing)
Despite his late recall and his first Formula One qualifying since 2013, Felipa Massa’s replacement was able to qualfiy himself on P19. He improved lap by lap and approached the pace of the new Formula One cars by setting a time of 1:19:868 minutes.
“It’s been a busy 18 hours, getting prepared to drive in case it did happen but unsure if it was going to. I was nervous and anxious. You’re unsure of how your ability is going to be when you get out there. I was ironing my shirt at 11 o’clock this morning preparing to be presenting on TV. But honestly, I quickly felt quite comfortable in the car. There was nothing that took me by surprise, it’s just the more laps you can do, the better it is. Getting thrown straight into qualifying is the deepest of the deep ends. To do it in four laps is a big ask, but honestly I didn’t expect to be so close straight away. I’ve carried on everything Felipe has done up until this session like the brake settings, the set-up and the steering wheel switches are all his, so of course it could be more optimised. But there is more ability to progress in me, gaining the speed and confidence in the car. These cars are the most special thing you’ll ever drive. It’s a tough ask to go straight into qualifying, but that’s what it’s about and you take these opportunities. Thank you to Williams for the opportunity, thank you to Claire and Sir Frank. To get the opportunity to get in the car and do it, with the team having the faith in my ability, I will hopefully be able to repay that. The team have been great. I’ve been here a year and a half waiting for this, so it’s a good job I’ve been attending all the meetings and paying attention! Today has been very special. I felt back at home in a Formula One car, and the team prepared me as best they could. We go into tomorrow with a long and difficult day ahead, but at the same time one that I’m very much looking forward to challenge and to see how it goes.”
P20 – M. Ericsson (Sauber F1 Team)
“First of all, I want to thank my car crew for changing the power unit in between FP3 and qualifying. They did a great job to send me out on time. Then, qualifying was a bit unfortunate, as I got yellow flags on my final lap in Q1. Of course, a disappointing ending of Q1 as I think there was a bit more to be had by the end.”