Lewis Hamilton had one more chance to qualify on pole at a rainy circuit Saturday afternoon at the Hungaroring in Budapest for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix. The Briton took his last opportunity and came up with the best time of 1:35:658, ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
For Hamilton, despite the conditions, it was his fourth pole at the Hungaroring, one shy of tying Michael Schumacher.
“I had no idea in qualifying what was going to be needed for pole position and as I went into that last lap I knew I had to put together a huge sector and really pull something special out to firstly take the Ferraris but also the cars around me.” Hamilton exclaimed to ESPN F1. “I think the car felt good and the lap started out well and as I said on the grid the tires were cold as ever and not good for another lap but it was all about making compromises.”
The rain was never far away all day long, with the track becoming the epicenter of two thunderstorms in the area. It began slowly and worked its way through the second and finally the last session, where many unknown names were in the top ten. For Hamilton, it was a last-minute effort to succeed, which came following Raikkonen first taking pole temporarily, followed by Bottas, and then Hamilton, with a minute to go in the final session.
The precipitation also knocked out a lot of top names as well, as both Force India’s of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez exited the opening session, with Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, and in a big surprise, Daniel Ricciardo the second.
Sebastian Vettel took the first two sessions, but when it counted, the German could mange to only take fourth. Carlos Sainz Jr. did his personal best in his Renault by placing fifth, while Pierre Gasly did his best in sixth with his Toro Rosso. Max Verstappen did not make Red Bull’s day any better, finishing in seventh, as Brendon Hartley in addition, had his personal best qualifying session taking eighth. The American Haas F1 Team kept their chances alive for a best of the rest finishers in the constructor’s championship, by placing Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean ninth and tenth, respectively.
Hamilton was not certain he had pole until told by his race engineer. But the question will be if it is dry on race day, can both Mercedes keep the Ferrari from threatening them. Hamilton was cautious about this afterwards.
“The Ferraris were just too fast so we focused on doing the best job we could and maybe lockout the second row. To have us in this position is such a blessing for all of us and we can’t take the opportunity for granted as we’ve got a race and we need to try to keep them behind.”