McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was the only driver to dip below the 1m20s barrier in Q3 and looked set to secure pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix F1 race in Budapest.
But for the 8th time this year Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel dug deeper and put in a lap of 1m19.815s to defeat Hamilton who clocked in at 1m19.978s.
The gap between Vettel and Hamilton was just 0.163s.
Jenson Button will start third for McLaren.
Jenson Button will start third for McLaren in his 200th Grand Prix start.
Felipe Massa was fourth Ferrari, the first time this year he outqualified his teammate Fernando Alonso who will start fifth.
Mark Webber was a disappointing sixth, once again being beat by his Red Bull teammate Vettel.
"Qualifying in seventh place was ok today, said Nico Rosberg, "we had a good set-up after this morning's practice and I did a good lap in Q3. I'm pleased to have saved one set of new option tires for the race which will hopefully help me to score some good points."
Each team can break the mechanics' late-night paddock curfew four times before a penalty applies, and Red Bull used one of theirs overnight to apply major setup changes to the RB7 after a difficult Friday in Budapest.
It seemed to work perfectly on Saturday as championship leader Vettel returned to pole, although teammate Mark Webber was just sixth.
"No way I could do that (Vettel's) lap time," the Australian told the BBC. "Strange one."
Nurburgring winner Lewis Hamilton was also wondering how his McLaren had dropped behind the pace of the leading Red Bull.
"Today they (Red Bull) seemed to pick up a little pace, but for me and Jenson (Button) to be in the first two rows is a good job," said the Briton.
German Vettel meanwhile hailed the long night endured by his mechanics.
"It seems we have done the right thing and I am a lot more comfortable (now)," he said. "The boys worked pretty hard and didn't get much sleep but a result like this today is the best way to say thanks."
Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:19.815): "I think it was a very good session for us. The McLarens were very quick, so we've done the right thing and I felt much more comfortable this morning. Q1 and Q2 was about getting through to the last session and I'm very pleased with the result. We changed a lot on the car overnight and the boys were working pretty hard and didn't get much sleep, but I think if we have a result like this it's the best way to say thanks, so I'm very happy. I've got the confidence back, today I felt much more comfortable in the car and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Mark Webber (6th, 1:20.474): "Third row is not where I want to be – I didn't get the best out of the car and out of the tires. KERS was up and down a bit, I didn't have it in Q2, I had it on the last lap in Q3, but in the end I wasn't quick enough and couldn't get the lap time. So, we have to come back tomorrow and see where we are."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A really close qualifying and a phenomenal effort by Sebastian to get the pole position on the last run, especially after a hard night by all the mechanics. We used the first of our jokers with the curfew, of which we are permitted four in a season, to spend the extra time working on car set-up. He's repaid them in the best possible way with pole position, which is a great start to the weekend but we're set for a tough race tomorrow. Unfortunately Mark picked up a KERS issue in Q2; it came available again in Q3, but it hampered his preparation. Nonetheless we know Mark's a great racer and I'm sure he'll make good progress from there in tomorrow's race."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "Another pole position, which is great. I would like to say a big thank you to all the boys working in the garage last night as they worked very hard and didn't get much sleep. I think today showed it was worth it. Regarding Mark, I think he should have been higher, but he had a KERS issue. No one doubts that he will be back up there tomorrow."
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:19.978): "It's great to see the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team with both cars on the front two rows – it's a sign that there's real pace here now. Everyone in the team is doing a fantastic job and we were genuinely competitive today. At one stage during Q3 I was up: I had half a tenth in reserve. But then I went a little bit wide, which triggered a big oversteer moment, and the result was that I lost that crucial bit of time. But the points aren't given out for today, and I'm feeling good about tomorrow. I'm very excited about the race, in fact, because we had quite a good long run yesterday and we'll work hard to build on that pace overnight and take it into tomorrow. We're in the fight – and, with a good start, we can definitely challenge for the win."
Jenson Button (3rd, 1:20.024): "All in all, I guess I'm pretty happy with P3. I'll start from the clean side of the track, and I'm feeling very positive about the race. Having said that, after a lap that was as close to pole as mine was today, you always catch yourself thinking that there must have been a little bit here or a little bit there that would have been enough to bridge the gap, which was just two-tenths this afternoon, but to be fair to myself I actually think I drove a pretty decent quali-lap. To be honest, qualifying has been a bit of an issue for me recently – and, although I relish attacking any circuit in an effort to make up places on a Sunday afternoon, I guess you're always going to be playing catch-up if you start much farther back than the first two rows. So, this weekend, it's nice to be in a position to drive for a win from the outset, and that's definitely what I'll be attempting to do tomorrow."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "When your drivers qualify second and third, inevitably you're a little disappointed that you didn't bag pole position and such is the case today; however, the positive corollary of that statement is that pole position was indubitably within our grasp this afternoon. Lewis ran a little wide in the final turn on his last attempt to take pole position, but his was a good lap all the same and he'll start from the front row tomorrow. Jenson qualified well too, ending up just behind Lewis in P3 – which will put him on the clean side of the grid. The team has done a professional and disciplined job both yesterday and today, and we're confident of being able to mount a serious challenge for victory tomorrow. Our long runs were good yesterday, our starts have been strong in recent races, and Lewis came through today's qualifying having conserved an extra set of new Option tires which should give him a small advantage in the race. It'll only be a small advantage, mind; but, so close is the competition in Formula 1 these days, that a small advantage is sometimes all you need…"
Felipe Massa (4th, 1:20.350): "Usually our rivals find something extra for qualifying and we make a step forward in the race: we will see tomorrow if this unwritten rule will also be confirmed at this track. I hope I have a car that is competitive, as it was in the final part of qualifying. Again this morning, I had too much oversteer and then, after making a few changes, it ended up the other way: we made a further adjustment to the front wing and the car's handling was much better. It's difficult to predict how many stops there will be: four is not impossible, three absolutely probable. Much will depend on the length of the first stint: that's where it will be clear which way to go for the following stops. What does it mean to me to be ahead of my team-mate for the first time this year? I am pleased, but what counts is being ahead of everyone and I hope we soon get some qualifying sessions where we are the best. Here I don't think I could have got under the 1.20 mark: McLaren and Red Bull are very strong and will be so tomorrow. My only complaint is starting from the dirty side of the track: I know how penalizing it can be at this track."
Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:20.365): "It's the same result as a week ago, so yet again today, we're neither surprised nor disappointed. It's true I did not do a perfect lap in Q3 and I'm happy to admit that, but I don't think I could have made it to the front row. Third place was within our grasp and it would have been a great place from which to start the race, but others did better than us, including my team-mate who drove a nice lap: it's important that both our cars are in positions from which we can fight for a place on the podium. All the same, better fifth than fourth as it means at least I start from the clean side of the track. It seems that when it's time for Q3, Red Bull has a magic button that suddenly makes them go faster, but then it seems the button switches off in the race! It's always very difficult to overtake here and I don't think DRS will change that much: maybe a good tow and a gust of wind will be of more use. We will try and move up a few places tomorrow: we will need to maintain a good pace, doing a perfect job at the pit stops, of which I think there will be a lot, maybe three or four, because tire degradation is significant. It will also be important to get the timing of the stops right. I reckon anything could still happen: it will be a very open race."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "When you see one of your cars at the top of the time sheet in Q1 and again in Q2, clearly you start to believe you might finally be about to take pole, but we knew it would be very, very difficult to achieve: Hamilton has been very strong all weekend and Red Bull always has something in reserve for Q3. We did not manage to put together the perfect lap with either driver and the logical outcome of all that is that we have ended up with the same result as in Germany one week ago. We always have a bit more pace in the race compared to qualifying, but here too, overtaking will be very complicated. Historically, the start has been a very important moment at this track, as is the behavior of the tires. It will be a very unpredictable race, as indeed has been the case at almost all of them this year: whoever does the best job of working as a team will have the upper hand."
Pat Fry: "You could say this was a predictable result. We did not get all the potential out of the car, but it would not have changed much in terms of our grid positions. It's true that compared to the start of the season, we have caught up quite a bit, but it's equally true that, especially in qualifying, we still lack something compared to our closest opponents. We need to work more to improve our performance on a first flying lap, there's no doubt about that. From a technical point of view, we suffered particularly in the third sector: while being competitive in the first two, in the last one, we lost a few tenths too many. It was to be expected, also after what we saw last week in Germany in the first few corners of the Nurburgring track. However, tomorrow will be a very tight race, partly because I expect to see a lot of tire changes. We will have to be careful when choosing the right moment for the pit stops, especially as overtaking on track will not be a walk in the park for anyone, even with DRS. We will try to do our best, aware of the strengths of our main rivals."
Nico Rosberg (7th, 1:21.098): "Qualifying in seventh place was ok today; we had a good set-up after this morning's practice and I did a good lap in Q3. I'm pleased to have saved one set of new option tires for the race which will hopefully help me to score some good points."
Michael Schumacher (9th, 1:21.907): "The positive thing that I can take from qualifying today is that I will be starting from the better side of the grid in ninth place. However there are also things which we need to investigate further as the first two sectors did not work out well for us today. They were fine with the prime tires, but not with the super softs, so we will have a close look into the reasons why. As always, we will try to do the best that we can in the race tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "A reasonable qualifying session for us today with Nico and Michael getting the most out of the car that we had. Our positions are about where we are at the moment. During this morning's practice session, we focused on our race performance, and that should pay off for us tomorrow afternoon. It's likely to be quite a tricky race with the tires as the super softs are right on the limit, so we will have to look after them carefully and make the most of them."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Nico and the team did a good job today in getting the maximum from our current technical package and putting the car in seventh position behind the three top teams. The fact that Mark was on pole one week ago and now is in sixth place demonstrates how tough the battle in this group is, and how challenging it is to break into the top six this season. Michael had a more difficult Q3 and struggled slightly with the set-up of his car. By using primes in Q1 and doing only one outing in Q2 and Q3, Nico saved one set of fresh options for the race which will be very helpful tomorrow. It will be a challenging race for us and our aim is to come home where we are starting or slightly better."
Vitaly Petrov (12th, 1:22.284): "The difficulty we had was warming up the tires because the weather was so changeable. I also encountered quite a lot of understeer, especially in turn nine, which cost me two-tenths and practically put an end to my chance of getting in Q3. It is this, combined with traction problems that have been our main problems so far this weekend. Sauber is looking increasingly competitive with us now so we need to understand where the problems lie and rectify them because qualifying where we have been recently is not enough; we are more ambitious than that, so the focus will turn to how we make the best out of the situation tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (14th, 1:22.470): "Today was again not what we would have hoped for; P14 is not in our line of thinking when we step into the garage for qualifying, though perhaps it's an indication of where we stand right now. At the moment, we are finding it tough to extract more from the car. We'll still be going into tomorrow absolutely fighting for higher positions; gaining some places in the race is very achievable. For this to happen, we will need a good start and the right strategy, so we'll be grafting to make both those happen when we line up here tomorrow afternoon."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "It was a difficult day for us. Both drivers reported that the car felt better in FP3 after we had made changes overnight following on from what we learnt on Friday's practice runs. Although we had made improvements, we simply did not have the pace here today to challenge for the top ten which is not good enough. The soft tire was between 1-1.5 seconds slower, so tire strategy in qualifying was not difficult today. For the race, I expect it will be reasonably straightforward in terms of tire choice, with probably a three pit stop race. Vitaly's final run in Q2 was compromised; he was on his out lap and was slowed down by another car. This prevented him from warming his tires, which is critical for a qualifying lap on the super soft tires. We did have an issue with fuel delivery on Nick's car this morning, so we changed the relevant parts in the fuel system and did not suffer a repeat of the issues in qualifying."
Rubens Barrichello (15th, 1:22.684): "Everything was running so well and we had a promising strategy in place, but I couldn't engage KERS in sector one of my last lap, and that compromised my time. I still had a pretty good lap, but I'm disappointed because we had a competitive run earlier on with the primes and so were thinking that 11th or 12th was possible on the option. Still, we've saved enough tires and with a solid strategy we can have a better race tomorrow."
Pastor Maldonado (17th, No Time): "We decided not to run in Q2 to save a set of options. It is essential we get the best result we can from the race and so for our strategy it was important to save some tires today. I think there will be a big fight tomorrow with the cars starting around us, but we have one more set of supersofts. I am looking forward to seeing what we can do now."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Our plan today was to look at conserving tires for the race so we only used the prime throughout Q1 on both cars. Rubens looked quite strong in the opening session so we actually ran one set of options on his car in Q2. Unfortunately a problem with KERS at the start of his quick lap compromised that decision and cost him some time so we really didn't get the most out of using the new option, as can be seen from the small, four tenths difference between his prime and option time. In Pastor's case, he chose not to run in Q2 to save the option tire for tomorrow, which was the team's plan."
Adrian Sutil (8th, 1:21.445): "I'm very pleased with my qualifying and it feels great to be starting from eighth for the second race in a row. This morning in final practice things did not look so good because I was struggling with a general lack of grip. We changed quite a few things for qualifying – obviously the right things – and this afternoon the car felt really good and I found the lap times we felt were possible. In the past the Hungaroring has not been a track where we have been very strong because it's a maximum downforce track, so it feels great to show once again that our car is competitive everywhere. The race tomorrow will be all about getting the strategy spot on, but we're starting in a good place and I'm looking forward to it."
Paul di Resta (11th, 1:22.256): "Starting in eleventh place is not too bad, but I was hoping to be a little bit higher up. I'm still in a good position to score some points tomorrow and it's nice to be starting from the cleaner side of the grid. We had a bit of a messy run in Q1 on the supersoft tire, but other than that our prime run was very good and I was happy with the car. It's just my final lap in Q2 wasn't quite there so maybe I should have been a bit more adventurous. In practice we've shown that we can be competitive over longs runs and I'm optimistic that we can carry that through to the race."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "Once again we have come to a high downforce track and demonstrated that the VJM04 is a consistent top ten runner. This is now the fourth race in a row that a Force India has made it through to Q3 and the whole team can be proud of this achievement. Adrian was superb today and recovered well from a difficult final practice session to qualify eighth – splitting the Mercedes cars. Paul has also shown good speed throughout all the sessions and will be strong in the race. We go into tomorrow in a positive frame of mind and focused on converting our performance today into more points."
Sergio Perez (10th, No Time): "I am very happy. It is the second time that I have made it into Q3 and the first time I can celebrate it. My fastest lap in Q2 was a really good one, I think we achieved the maximum possible today. The team handled the conditions very well, and the strategy was really good. But all what matters is tomorrow. Our race pace should be good, and I hope I can improve and score some good points."
Kamui Kobayashi (13th, 1:22.435): "After we had struggled quite a lot in the free practice this morning, it was much better in qualifying. It was not easy, as we changed the set-up but the conditions also changed. My final lap in Q2 was okay, but I missed to get into Q3. Of course the target for tomorrow is to score points. I have the feeling that the life of both tire compounds is rather short, so this will make it an exciting Grand Prix here."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "It's the first time in his Formula One career that Sergio can start from the top ten, which is always something special. Congratulation to him for a fantastic performance and also to his race engineer. I'm sure it was the right thing to do to save one set of new super soft tires for the race. P13 is maybe a little bit less than what Kamui had hoped for, but he is in a very good position to attack tomorrow and fight for points."
James Key, Technical Director: "I'm very pleased with Sergio's performance in qualifying. We knew from this morning that it was likely to be extremely close, so it was great to get through to Q3. We decided not to do a flying lap in that session. Although possibly we could have made a bit of progress, I think tire saving will be extremely important tomorrow. We took a strategic decision not to do a timed lap, although he left the pits we decided to bring him in. Unfortunately Kamui couldn't make it to Q3, but it was only a matter of tenths. We will look at all possibilities and try to come up with a sensible race strategy and aim for a good points finish tomorrow."
Jaime Alguersuari (16th, 1:22.979): "I think I did the maximum I could today, given that we were saving the tires for the race. I believe our car set-up for the race can be very effective, therefore I am confident for tomorrow. I don't know if points will be possible, but let's see how the race evolves. Anything can happen tomorrow, with seventy laps and many different strategies, so I hope that ours is the one that pays off!"
Sebastien Buemi (18th, 1:24.070): "The fact I have a five place grid penalty carried over from last Sunday's race at the Nurburgring conditioned our approach to this afternoon's qualifying session. We chose not to use any Super Soft tires today, deciding to save them for tomorrow, which means I have three new sets of them for the race. With high tire degradation at this track, that will be an important factor and I hope it will allow me to work my way up the order. There is a big difference between tires that are completely new and those that have done even just a few laps, therefore the key will be to try and overtake cars as soon as possible."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "Jaime did a good job, even allowing for the fact that we gained one place as Maldonaldo did not go out in Q2. He looked quite close to those ahead of him in Q1, running first the Prime then the Option, but then the gap was re-established in Q2, when he made a single run on the Option. With Buemi, given his five place penalty, we opted to ignore grid position and concentrate on saving tires for the race, which is what we have done. He only ran on the Prime tire this afternoon which gives him three new sets of Option for the race. Normally, we say we look better in terms of our race pace than in qualifying and yesterday when we ran in both conditions in free practice that was the case. However, we did not get it quite right on low fuel, therefore it is hard to be sure what is the situation at this type of track. Overtaking is difficult here, so we will have to be creative with our strategy and try and make the tires last."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:24.362): "After a bit of a tough weekend so far I'm really pleased with how quali finished up. I've not been able to find a balance I'm happy with all weekend and we made a couple of changes for qualifying that finally took us in the right direction. On the first run I couldn't get a clean lap together, but I was quietly optimistic we could hook it all up on the second run and that's how it ended up. I had to work pretty hard to get it all right and it's very pleasing to see it come good in the last minutes of Q1. The updates we've brought here are working very well for us and it looks like we've made a gain relative to the guys ahead, and with Jarno clearly much more competitive here the mood is really good across the whole team."
Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:24.534): "This has been a very good day, even though in qualifying I didn't manage to get everything I could out of the car. On the first run we went with the prime and the car was oversteering a little. On the second run we went onto the super softs and found more understeer than I'd had all weekend so I wasn't really able to find the pace I'd had yesterday and this morning. Despite that I am really pleased with how this weekend's gone. The new power steering system has transformed the car for me and I'm so much happier now – it's really like night and day, and I can't wait to get back in tomorrow and see what we can do in the race. The difference between the two tire choices means strategy will come into play in a big way, so let's see what we can do."
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "Firstly I want to say how pleased we all are with jarno's performance this weekend, in and out of the car. He has responded exactly as we would have hoped to the updates introduced here and has shown exactly why he is rightly considered one of the fastest drivers out there. On the qualifying session itself, I think we have to be reasonably pleased with how that went. Heikki put in a great final lap to edge just ahead of Jarno, and to finish less than three tenths from Buemi and about five tenths from Maldonado suggests that the changes we have made here have paid dividends. Both drivers have said they probably could not have found much more from the cars, but after very solid performances in all three practice sessions, and with good pace in the long runs yesterday, I think we are in good shape for tomorrow's race."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "That was a pretty good qualifying for the team. We only ran one set of options on both cars in Q1 to save them for the race which will put us in good a position for the race tomorrow with the degradation levels we are going to see. Both drivers did a good job today. Jarno has been much happier with the car all weekend but couldn't quite translate that into his qualifying runs. He made a couple of small mistakes on his quickest lap which cost him a bit but it is good to see how well he has responded to the updates we have brought. Heikki has been less happy with the balance this weekend but he did an excellent job to get the most out of the car, so well done to him and the whole team."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "We can all be pleased with the performance today. From the engine side we have been working on giving the drivers the right engine maps for this track, focusing on drivability which is key to maximizing on this type of twisty track and I think both drivers extracted as much as they could from the complete package today. Our race pace looks pretty good for tomorrow as well so I think we are in a good position all round."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (22nd, 1:26.323): "It was a good qualifying session overall. 22nd place is a good result, especially after having experienced some problems during the weekend. We have been trying some different things on the car and the balance of the car improved. Unfortunately we had an issue on the first lap where we broke the front wing and we had to go all the way to the end like this. But it's positive to have been competitive with our main rivals, especially after the troubles of the past few days and on a track that doesn't suit us too well. We would have done better if everything stayed together but now we have to look forward and push for tomorrow's race."
Daniel Ricciardo (23rd, 1:26.479): "I thought it was not a bad lap at the end, we are quite close to Tonio and Timo, there are only a couple of tenths in it. When you see that the times are so close it is a little bit frustrating to not be one spot ahead. Nevertheless, we can be satisfied because we are competitive although I hoped for a little bit better. Tomorrow is another day. It's going to be quite difficult given the conditions. Tire management will be a key factor as well as pit stops. I don't know what to expect but I'm going to push to the limit and see what happens."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "We sent our cars out right away with super-soft tires and Ricciardo got the ball rolling with 1.27.206 and Liuzzi 1.27.850 in very windy conditions. We had a good fight for the positions and it is very close. It will be a very difficult race tomorrow if these windy conditions persist. We're well prepared for tomorrow as we have learned from yesterday and improved our set-up. We are trying to make good progress at every race and build on last week's results. There is no reason why we can't take another step forward this weekend. We need to maintain qualifying form and reliability and look for a two car finish again."
Timo Glock (21st, 1:26.294): "It hasn't been an easy weekend so far. Yesterday the car was okay, not perfect, but at least we had a good baseline for today. But then unfortunately the wind picked up this morning and it felt like it just blew our car off the track a little bit. It was very difficult this morning as I had no balance and I really had to work around the set-up. We tried a lot of different combinations and I have to say that my engineers did a very good job. As a team we picked the right set-up in the end and I had a very good qualifying lap. I got the best out of the car and collected a lot of data, and now we have to see why the car is more difficult to drive under these conditions. But I'm happy with my work today."
Jerome d'Ambrosio (24th, 1:26.510): "Not a bad Saturday at all. This morning was really good and I had a good balance with the car, but this afternoon I struggled a little bit as the track was cooler and the balance changed. I had a bit of understeer which made the car slower over a lap but I feel I was quite close to the car's full potential today. I'm sure I can still improve to make sure I hook everything together over the lap."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Both cars started taking a set-up direction that had seemed positive in FP2. This morning, while Jerome was happy with his balance, Timo was less so, and this may partly be due to the strong wind conditions seen today. Going into qualifying, Jerome kept his FP3 set-up , while Timo made some significant changes to improve his balance from FP3. Both cars got clean laps and Timo was happier with the car in qualifying. We opted to save a set of new Option tires for the race tomorrow and we hope this decision will ensure both cars have a strong race."
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Germany||Red Bull-Renault||1:19.815|
|6.||Mark Webber||Australia||Red Bull-Renault||1:20.474|
|7.||Nico Rosberg||Germany||Mercedes GP||1:21.098|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Germany||Force India-Mercedes||1:21.445|
|9.||Michael Schumacher||Germany||Mercedes GP||1:21.907|
|10.||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Sauber-Ferrari||No Time|
|11.||Paul di Resta||Britain||Force India-Mercedes||1:22.256|
|16.||Jaime Alguersuari||Spain||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:22.979|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Venezuela||Williams-Cosworth||No Time|
|18.||Sebastien Buemi||Switzerland||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:24.070|