F1: Hamilton leads all-Mercedes front– row in Hungary

Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying for the Hungarian GP Saturday with a lap of 1m15.41s. More importantly, Valtteri Bottas qualified next to him to give Mercedes a front-row lockout, and put Max Verstappen on his back foot.

The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen will line up on row 2, 0.421s, and 1.002s back respectively.

With it being so hard to pass on the Hungaroring, Hamilton is likely to lead from start to finish on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton – LAT Images

Gamesmanship was used, with Hamilton released ahead of the Red Bull pair for the second runs. He backed them up all lap – legally – meaning Perez didn’t even make the flag.

“Amazing qualifying lap, amazing team work from everyone Valtteri included to try, and push the car forward. I don’t mind the booing, it just fuels me,” said Hamilton.

The crowd were audibly mixed during that interview – boos interspersed with cheers. Although he appeared initially taken aback.

“In Q2 I lost the rhythm slightly when we had to use the mediums tires, so it wasn’t easy, and I had a small lock up in Q3,” said Bottas. “Tomorrow will be exciting, all to play for, and it should be a good battle. I’m looking forward to it!”

“The whole weekend we’ve been a bit behind, and it showed in qualifying,” said Verstappen. “We’re still there in P3, and we’ll see what we can do, but yeah, not what I want. The grip is higher on the soft tires, so it will give us an opportunity off the line.”

Pierre Gasly improved to a fantastic fifth ahead of Lando Norris.  Charles Leclerc pipped Esteban Ocon, with Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top 10.  All three will be on used soft tires in Q2, which aren’t expected to last long under a full fuel load, given tomorrow is set to be another scorching hot day.


Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:15.419): “”It was an amazing qualifying lap, that last one. There’s been amazing teamwork from everyone this weekend, Valtteri included. We’re just trying to push the car forwards, developing constantly, and the guys back at the factory have been working flat out, leaving no stone unturned. It’s been amazing to see everyone coming together, rallying each other, and pushing forwards, and I appreciate the great support I have here. The Soft tire is worth something like five meters down into turn one, and it’s a long way down to the first corner, so it’ll be exciting tomorrow – it’s surprising to see all the guys behind us on the Soft tire. It’s definitely great having a front row lockout for our Team, it’s the first one in a long time, and I just feel so grateful to everyone back at the factory.”It was an amazing qualifying lap, that last one. There’s been amazing teamwork from everyone this weekend, Valtteri included. We’re just trying to push the car forwards, developing constantly, and the guys back at the factory have been working flat out, leaving no stone unturned. It’s been amazing to see everyone coming together, rallying each other, and pushing forwards, and I appreciate the great support I have here. The Soft tire is worth something like five meters down into turn one, and it’s a long way down to the first corner so it’ll be exciting tomorrow – it’s surprising to see all the guys behind us on the Soft tire. It’s definitely great having a front row lockout for our Team, it’s the first one in a long time, and I just feel so grateful to everyone back at the factory.”

Valtteri Bottas (2nd, 1:15.734): “We saw some good progress in performance at Silverstone, and it seems to be carrying on here in Budapest which is great to see. The conditions are pretty unique here with the heat, and we’ve performed well so far. As a team, we’re in a good position with the Medium tire for the race tomorrow – Red Bull will have an advantage at the start on the Soft, but we will be able to go longer in the first stint so we’re set for an interesting race. We need to have strong focus at the start, that’s for sure. I’m a little bit disappointed with my first run in Q3, Lewis had an amazing lap, and I didn’t feel as confident with the car as I was at other points through the weekend. I lost a little bit of rhythm with the Medium tire in Q2, and it wasn’t easy to switch back to the Softs in Q3, and go all-out attack., but my lap was decent, and enough for P2 so I’m relatively happy.”

Andrew Shovlin: “It’s great to get another front row lock-out; we didn’t really know what to expect coming here, we thought that we’d be in the fight for pole, but the margin is a surprise. We wanted to get the cars on the Medium tire for the start, that was a bit tighter than we would have liked in Q2 with Valtteri, but the gamble paid off. Once the race is underway, the Medium should be the better tire, but its weakness is always going to be the start, and the grip in the opening corners – that has to be a focus for tomorrow. The race is going to be really tough on the tires, and that could open up options on strategy, but the car had good pace on Friday in hot conditions, so hopefully we can carry that into the race.”

Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen (3rd, 1:15.840): “The whole weekend so far we have been a bit behind, and qualifying was the same. I went a bit backwards on my Q3 lap compared to Q2, and I just didn’t have the same grip for some reason. I don’t know if it was track or tire related, but the balance was a bit off to push everywhere, and around here the corners all follow really quickly so if you don’t feel good in one corner, the next one won’t be great either. I lost a bit of lap time on the final run, but even with a faster out lap, and a slightly better balance I don’t think we would have been on pole. P3 isn’t where we want to be, and we cannot be happy with that, but nevertheless, we are still up there with Checo next to me so we will see what we can do in the race. We will also find out if starting on the soft is a good strategy as it’s going to be really hot. The softer tire won’t last as long as the medium, but maybe it will help us off the line. The start around here is very important so we will give it a good go, and fight to get the best out of the race.”

Sergio Perez (4th, 1:16.421): “I certainly felt that I was making good progress throughout qualifying with the car. It was a real shame to lose that final lap because I felt that it had good potential. At the time we thought we had plenty of margin to work with, unfortunately that wasn’t the case, and it meant that I basically lost my final attempt. We knew Mercedes were going to be very strong today, but I really hope tomorrow we are able to put a lot of pressure onto them. We have a different strategy, and are looking forward to the start, this is a place where if you get one or two corners right there is plenty of lap time to be found. In an ideal scenario we will get ahead of them, and hold position, but the race is very long, and anything can happen.”

Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 30, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: “Mercedes have been quick all weekend here, but Max’s time in Q2 looked pretty impressive. In Q3 he wasn’t completely happy with the balance of the car, so third was as good as we had today. Locking out the second row with Max, and Checo gives us options, and we have a different strategy from Mercedes ahead which is going to make it an exciting race. We couldn’t do the same time as Lewis did on the medium, and we felt that maybe tactically it was better to take a different route. We prefer the soft tire for the start, and we’ve got to drive an attacking race as we know how hard it is to overtake around here which means strategy is going to be crucial. Lewis had a hell of a first Q3 lap in the bank, and he just didn’t want to give our cars any advantage on the final out lap, which unfortunately meant Checo lost out on a second Q3 run. It was just a bit of gamesmanship. It’s his right to do that as he had track position, and we don’t have an issue, it’s all about tomorrow now. We know Silverstone, and Budapest are very much Mercedes strongholds. If you look at their performances last year we were a second off at Silverstone, and more than that here so we take encouragement that we are as close as we are. It’s different strategies, it’s different grip levels, we’ve got to get a good start, and take the fight to them tomorrow. It’s a long second half of this championship, and it’s going to be well worth watching.”

McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris (6th, 1:16.489): “A decent day. I felt it would be very tight to get into Q3, so I’m very happy with the pace. There was a small chance we could’ve been fourth if we’d done everything perfectly, so we need to analyze what we could’ve done better so we can maximize our potential next time., but still, I’m very happy with sixth, and I think we can score some good points from there tomorrow.”

Lando Norris

Daniel Ricciardo (11th, 1:16.871): “That was really close to Q3, but on the positive side, I’ll have free tire choice tomorrow. A lot of the time this year, when I’m trying to get those last few tenths out of it, it proves to be quite difficult, and it’s still not quite there. I thought the lap was decent, but it’s still quite a long way off. So, we’ll try to learn from it, and make up some places tomorrow. Hopefully everyone who starts on used tires suffers, and we can benefit from the free choice.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “Mixed feelings after qualifying here in Hungary today, which was quite a challenging session with changing grip, and wind conditions throughout qualifying. This made it difficult for the drivers, together with their engineers, to deliver the perfect lap on each run. Daniel made good steps throughout the sessions here, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough to get through to Q3. This will be a challenge tomorrow on a track like this, where it’s difficult to overtake. On the positive side, we have free tire choice tomorrow for the race start, which could help us to get back into the points. Lando showed another very strong qualifying performance, extracting the full potential of the car for P6 in the end, just six hundredths away from P4. Thanks to the team back home for continuing to push flat out, and delivering the upgrades we received for this event. They’re working well, and put us in a position to compete, over one lap, on a track like Hungary. We’re now looking forward to a challenging race tomorrow in very hot conditions. We’re in the battle with several strong teams. Together with Lando, and Daniel we should have a strong race car, and can fight again for good points for our battles in both championships.”

Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

Sebastian Vettel (10th, 1:16.750): “We struggled a little bit to get the tires in the right place for that final lap. I think we could possibly have been ninth –, but, realistically, P10 was about what we deserved. I actually think it will be an advantage to start the race on the Soft tire – we just need to see how long it will last. It worked pretty well yesterday, but we still have to see if we can make a one-stop strategy work starting on the Soft.”

Sebastian Vettel

Lance Stroll (12th, 1:16.893): “We were so close to making Q3, so it is a bit of a shame to only secure P12 on the grid. There are some mixed feelings because we were competitive in Q1, and finished P6 at that stage, but Q2 was a little trickier. Still, the positive is that we have a free tire choice for tomorrow’s race, and we will be able to consider a different strategy from the drivers in the top 10. It was tricky out there in such hot conditions, and the tire drop-off in the final sector today shows that degradation could be a factor tomorrow. Anything can happen in the race, so points are still achievable –, and that is our goal.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: “We are nicely placed to score points with both cars in tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix, having qualified 10th, and 12th today. Both our drivers had issues with understeer, and both did well to handle that understeer. Lance can now select the tire on which he will start tomorrow’s race, whereas Sebastian, who made it through to Q3, must start it on the tires he used in Q2. That split strategy gives us useful options, which we will be analyzing this afternoon, and evening. Sebastian will be looking to consolidate his P10 grid position, and Lance, who has driven some fantastic recovery races so far this year, will be gunning to make up as many places as possible from P12.”

Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon (8th, 1:16.653): “It feels good as it’s been a while since I’ve been in Q3. We managed to put it all together today, and there was actually a lot of understanding, and learning throughout the session, which is great. We weren’t quite where we wanted to be in Q2, but we managed to progress, and then put it all together in Q3. I’m happy with that as it’s a track I really enjoy, and it was a good session from the team. Tomorrow will be tricky, of course, as it’s going to be warm again. It’s difficult to overtake here, but we’re in a good starting position, which is important, and the aim is to make more places, and score as many points as we can.”

Esteban Ocon

Fernando Alonso (9th, 1:16.715): “We can be happy with that day. We did not know where our level of competitiveness at this circuit would lie, so to get both cars into Q3 for the first time in a while is very good. We perhaps thought we could be higher up the order after the performance in Q2, but there was a little bit of inconsistency on the tire behavior between sets. Let’s try, and finish the job tomorrow – the start will be a big factor, and then you try to consolidate whatever position you are in as it’s super difficult to overtake here. We have a high chance to score with both cars, and that’s clearly the target for tomorrow.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director: “We’re very pleased today to put both cars in the top 10 for the first time since Spain. We know that this circuit is difficult to overtake on, so it was very important to have both cars as high up the grid as possible for tomorrow’s race. Both drivers did a good job, and it’s great that Esteban has continued his form to return to Q3. The whole team managed the session well, so that’s good. The work will continue overnight in preparation for tomorrow’s race, which we know will be challenging. The weather could be unstable, but, dry or wet, we’ll be ready. We’re looking forward to this last race before the well-deserved break.”

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

Charles Leclerc (7th, 1:16.496): “It was a bit disappointing, as we expected a little more than a P7. The high temperatures were not as much of a challenge as the wind was today. As it picked up in Q2, we started struggling with our rears, and couldn’t maximize our potential. Tomorrow is when we score points though. Our race pace looks strong so I am confident. It is not an easy track to overtake on, so a good start will be essential.”

Carlos Sainz (15th, No Time): “This one is tough to take. I’m rarely involved in this type of incident, and it hurts. After a very strong run in Q1, going off in Q2 is the opposite of ideal. I was closing the lap, not pushing to the absolute limit, as it was only the first run of Q2, and unfortunately, I was caught out by a big gust of wind, later confirmed on the data. I don’t want to use it as an excuse, it was a mistake on track, and I apologize to the entire team. They did a great job last night, and the car today felt quite good. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst possible tracks to have a bad qualifying because overtaking is tough here. I’ll do my best to recover, and try to score as many points as possible tomorrow.”

Carlos Sainz Jr. wads up his Ferrari in Q2
Carlos Sainz Jr. climbs from his wadded up his Ferrari in Q2

Laurent Mekies, Sporting Director: “There’s no point denying that it’s disappointing that today’s result did not live up to our expectations. Given the times in Q3, we could have reasonably aspired to a place on the second row, but when the gaps are so small, just the slightest thing is enough to gain or lose several places. Sometimes that has worked in our favor, but not this afternoon. On top of that, we are paying a high price for Carlos not making it out of Q2, because it was clear that he also had the potential to fight for fourth place. Now we are concentrating on preparing for the race, which will be a tough test for the drivers, and the cars, especially because of the expected high temperatures. Yesterday, our long run performance wasn’t bad, but we know how difficult it is to make up places on this track. Strategy, and tire management will be the key factors.”

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda

Pierre Gasly (5th, 1:16.483): “I’m extremely happy with today, it’s a pretty good feeling to be the first car behind Mercedes, and Red Bull. We were quite surprised to be ahead of Ferrari, who have been looking really strong, so I’m really pleased with our performance today. It’s not going to be an easy race for us, we know that in terms of race pace some of the cars around us are stronger, but we knew grid positioning would be really important, and we’ve put ourselves in the best possible place to fight tomorrow. I’m really excited for the battle with Charles, and Lando, we know it’s hard to overtake here so we’re going to keep our elbows out, and try, and hold on to fifth position.”

Yuki Tsunoda (16th, 1:17.919): “This whole weekend I’ve struggled with the balance of the car, so it’s been quite difficult. We maximized track time in FP3, to make up for the time that I lost yesterday. I felt that I built up the pace well, and was able to put together a good lap. I went into Qualifying with confidence, and I think my lap was also good, even if I felt I was still lacking grip. I don’t quite understand how I lost that much time to my teammate, so I will need to sit with my engineers tonight, and look at the data ahead of the race. I really like this circuit, having driven here the last few years, so it’s frustrating to not be starting further up the grid tomorrow.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer: “It was a fantastic Qualifying session for the team today, with Pierre finishing at the front of the midfield, and starting tomorrow in P5! It wasn’t the easiest of FP3 session, as the red flag on his run on the new Softs impacted the tires for when he ran again. So, we weren’t able to show the best performance in FP3, but the team analyzed the tires, and setup well, so we could bounce back for Quali, and Pierre drove to the limit throughout. By setting such a good lap in Q1 it meant he could save a set to use in Q3, and this was what made the difference, as he was able to improve on his final run, and was only 62ms away from P4. The wind was changing throughout the session, and this made it more difficult to extract the performance every lap, as each corner the car was affected differently, which in turn caused the sliding, and increased tire temperatures, making the car harder to drive. Looking ahead to tomorrow, all cars around are on the Softs, as we are, so we should have a good opportunity to score points. For Yuki it was always going to be more difficult as he missed pretty much the entire FP2 on Friday. He made steady improvements throughout Qualifying, but was never as confident with the car as Pierre was. Although we did everything we could with the setup to improve that, it wasn’t enough for him to progress through to Q2. We will have to weigh up all the strategy options tonight, but given how difficult overtaking is here, unless anything happens it will be a big challenge for him tomorrow.”

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN

Kimi Raikkonen (13th, 1:17.564): “The team worked really hard to improve the balance of the car ahead of qualifying, and that was enough to make a step forward. It’s still not where we want to be, but we did our best, and P13 is a good position to start the race. We’ll see what is possible to achieve tomorrow: the race is never easy here, but we will do all we can to bring home a good result.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (14th, 1:17.583): “It was definitely the best session of the weekend so far for us, after struggling yesterday, and this morning in FP3. The team did a great job, and we made a big step forward from this morning: we put two cars in Q2, and we need to be happy with this result. P13, and P14 was probably the maximum we could, especially on a hot, and windy day that made conditions quite tricky out there. Starting where we are, everything can happen in the race: the track is not an easy one on which to overtake, but a good start, and the strategy can put us in a good position. We expect tire degradation to play a big role in the race, especially with this heat, so to make the right calls there will be key to have a good result.”

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: “It was a really strong performance as a team – actually, our best collective result so far this season. We were able to make a significant improvement from practice, where we had struggled, and both drivers felt a lot more at ease with the car straight from the first run of qualifying. In a field with such small margins, to clear Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri in P16 by more than a tenth, and leave Russell’s Williams nearly 0.2s behind us is a very positive result. Both Kimi, and Antonio delivered good laps in Q2, where we only had one good set of tires left, and achieved positions that will allow us to be in the fight for the points right from the start tomorrow. Now we have to build on this strong Saturday to bring home a good result.”

Haas F1 Team

Nikita Mazepin (19th, 1:18.922): “It was a hot qualifying, one of the hottest of the year. That’s not doing any favors to the tires – they’re just melting. Apart from that, three very consistent laps so I’ve had a clean weekend. I got to a point where it got difficult to extract more from the car – it was pretty difficult as we’re lacking downforce so you’re consistently sliding around the track. For a racing driver, there’s a few opportunities like T1, and T2, but from that point onwards it will be a managing race. The track temps are expected to be hot, and they’re not going to be kind to a 70-lap race.”

Mick Schumacher (20th, No Time): “The feel in the car was amazing, especially in FP2, and FP3. The way we hit the wall was very unfortunate because that meant the whole side was broken, and we had to repair, and replace it, and it’s just something that takes more time. If we had five or 10 minutes more, we would’ve been able to do a lap – the team did a mega job. If we manage to be clean, and save our tires, we might be able to gain a few positions.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: “It was a pretty exciting Saturday for us. Everything was going well in FP3 until Mick had his off, and the car was badly damaged. The team tried to get it together, and they were very close to it, it was almost there, but they did a great job. I have to take my hat off to those who tried to make it happen. In the end, we were a few minutes short of time to get Mick out again so qualifying was only with Nikita, and he did the best he can, and then the Saturday was over. We had no lack of excitement this weekend – not for the right reasons –, but so it is.”

Williams Racing

George Russell (17th, 1:17.944): “It’s the first time all season we haven’t progressed to Q2, but we can’t get it right every time. I didn’t have the confidence in the car today for whatever reason, and the lap just didn’t come together for me. We’ve done an amazing job to be in Q2 in the first 10 races of the season, and this time, we did a fine job when we normally do an excellent job. For us, fine is not enough. That is how it is sometimes, but we’re looking forward to tomorrow. It is going to be a difficult race as it is so hot here, and the tires are going to be really tricky to manage. Hopefully, we can do a better job than the others, and capitalize on any opportunities.”

George Russell

Nicholas Latifi (18th, 1:18.036): “We were hoping to be more competitive than we were today, but ultimately it was a very close margin to Q2. The car was feeling ok, not perfectly balanced, but not far off, and I was relatively happy. The lap felt OK from my side, but we need to investigate a power unit issue that we experience on both laps. Throughout my last lap I had four or five engine cuts which from the data cost me quite a bit of lap time. Without that maybe Q2 was possible, as we don’t know the exact time lost, but it was definitely hurting.”

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: “We were unable to make the improvements to the car that we had hoped, and as a result we struggled for pace today. It’s frustrating after a run of good qualifying sessions to miss Q2, especially given how important qualifying is at this circuit. However, tomorrow is set to be hot again, and, with a threat of rain, the race may yet be a little unpredictable. Nicholas suffered with a power delivery issue during his running this afternoon, and this is being investigated. It undoubtedly cost him crucial time today, and may have been the difference between getting into Q2, and not. With George we struggled to get the car into that narrow sweet spot that is important here for getting a good laptime without overly damaging the tires. We have done a decent job of this at recent races, but today we couldn’t quite optimise everything, which is what we typically need to do to get out of Q1.”

Qualifying Results

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.424 1:16.553 1:15.419 19
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:16.569 1:16.702 1:15.734 18
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:16.214 1:15.650 1:15.840 17
4 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda 1:17.233 1:16.443 1:16.421 16
5 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 1:16.874 1:16.394 1:16.483 15
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1:17.081 1:16.385 1:16.489 17
7 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.084 1:16.574 1:16.496 17
8 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:17.367 1:16.766 1:16.653 15
9 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 1:17.123 1:16.541 1:16.715 15
10 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes 1:17.105 1:16.794 1:16.750 15
11 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 1:17.664 1:16.871 13
12 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1:17.038 1:16.893 12
13 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:17.553 1:17.564 15
14 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:17.776 1:17.583 12
15 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:16.649 Crashed 5
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 1:17.919 8
17 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:17.944 8
18 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:18.036 8
19 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari 1:18.922 9


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