Race Weekend Central

Slipstream Saturday: Lewis Hamilton Goes Back-to-Back, Scores Hungarian Grand Prix Pole

For the second week in a row, Mother Nature threatened to ruin a Formula One race weekend, blanketing Hungary in rain all throughout the week. However, with overcast skies, the Formula 1 drivers were able to qualify in the dry Saturday (July 18) for the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix the following day.

Last week’s Austrian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton would set a blistering lap of 1 minute, 13.447 seconds to claim his second straight pole of the season. The run also marks Hamilton’s staggering 90th career F1 pole. Mercedes was the dominant team all throughout practice and qualifying, putting the manufacturer 1-2 at the front of the grid once again.

Valtteri Bottas posted a time of 1:13.340 to claim the second spot after Q3. The championship points leader will need to get around his teammate on Sunday or face the potential of possibly losing the points lead.

While the rest of the grid battled it out for third, there was a changing of the guard among top manufacturers. Starting third and fourth will not be a pair of Red Bulls or even a pair of Ferraris. Instead, fresh off the dispute with Renault, the “pink Mercedes” over at Racing Point were able to claim the second row all to themselves. Lance Stroll would edge teammate Sergio Perez by just under one tenth of a second.

Following their disaster in Austria, the Ferrari cars will look to bounce back this weekend in Hungary. Sebastian Vettel will line up fifth with teammate Charles Leclerc just a few hundredths behind in sixth. Max Verstappen will be the lead Red Bull car in seventh with both McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz in eighth and ninth, respectively. Pierre Gasly, the lone AlphaTauri in Q3, rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.

Looking at the rest of the field, it was a party in the Williams camp as for the first time in nearly a year, neither Williams car will be on the back row of the grid. George Russell will land in the 12th starting spot with rookie Nicholas Latifi qualifying 15th.

Alexander Albon struggled in Q2, getting ousted in 13th, while Renault was completely embarrassed by rivals Racing Point. Renault lines up 11th and 14th, respectively.

AlphaTauri’s Danill Kvyat, meanwhile, struggled while his teammate shined. The Russian failed to out of Q1 and will start in between the Haas entries in 17th position.

Meanwhile, the back row of the grid will be composed of both Alfa Romeo Racing entries. Antonio Giovanazzi would lead teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen, for the first time in his long and storied F1 career, would miss Q2 for the fourth week in a row.


Practice Sessions 

FP1 saw only 19 cars make time, as the AlphaTauri of Gasly failed to log a lap. Kimi Raikkonen would sit this session out in favor of fan favorite Robert Kubica. Kubica, however, would log the slowest time in FP1.

Mercedes would dominate the session with Hamilton beating Bottas by 0.086 seconds. Perez and Stroll would follow behind them, half-a-second and a second back, respectively. The top five would be completed by by the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.

FP2 saw mother nature shed some tears over the Hungaroring. 13 drivers would set a time in the wet and Vettel would top the charts, 0.272 seconds ahead of Bottas. Sainz and Stroll wound up third and fourth, with Perez rounding out the top five.

The cars that elected not go out for FP2 were both Renaults, both Williams, Hamilton, Albon and Kevin Magnussen.

FP3 was topped by Bottas, logging a time 0.042 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Perez, Leclerc and Stroll rounded out the top-five drivers.

Odds and Sods

Lewis Hamilton once again is making a case as to why he is GOAT of F1. Hamilton’s 90th career pole extends a record he took a few seasons ago. To put this stat into perspective, Hamilton has more poles than Ayrton Senna, Vettel, Michael Schumacher and Jim Clark. Talk about some hallowed company. In terms of wins, Hamilton will need 12 to tie Schumacher and 13 to take sole possession of the top spot.

The Haas F1 Team is once again back in the news. The American outlet has only been in F1 since 2016 and, from what it looks like, could be making a swift exit. However, that was only according to team driver Romain Grosjean. Those comments angered team boss Gunther Steiner, who condemned the Frenchman for speaking out on his behalf.

“I think his answer was the wrong answer,” Steiner told Sky F1. “Because he was asked what he is doing, and he spoke for the team. I think the elephant is in his room, not in our room.”

There are reports that Vettel is headed to Racing Point after the season, which would, in turn, send North American driver Sergio Perez to Haas. Steiner refused to confirm nor deny any of those reports.

Williams F1 seems to be using that big cash flow from the Latifis to their advantage. The British outlet stunned the F1 world with both drivers making it to Q2 for the first time since 2018. Both drivers put on a fabulous performance, with Russell really proving why he is worthy of a spot in the Mercedes Academy. The outlet also confirmed that Russell and Latifi will be back driving with the team in 2021.

Racing Point vs Renault seems to have hit another boiling point. The FiA reported that it was likely that the French outlet would protest Racing Point following each Grand Prix. That action would seem petty to some, but it could potentially land the revenge Renault so desperately seeks.

With a field qualifying so close together (less than 3.5 seconds separating first and last on the field), look for the Hungarian Grand Prix to produce a show for the ages.

About the author

Alex has been writing in the motorsport world since he was 19. Starting his career with the NASCAR Pinty's Series, Alex's work has been featured in Inside Track Magazine, TSN & NBC Sports as well as countless race programs.

Alex has also worked within the junior hockey world in Canada, appearing as a desk host for the OHL's Barrie Colts. He also got the opportunity to cover the 2018 Chevy Silverado 250 which appeared as the headlining article on NASCAR.com.

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