Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position from Max Verstappen by just 0.003 seconds for the Hungarian Grand Prix in an exciting and closely contested Formula 1 qualifying session.
The Mercedes driver was the last driver to cross the line in Q3 at the Hungaroring and overturned Verstappen’s record lap to secure his first pole position of the season.
The qualifying format was modified as part of the “Alternate Tire Allocation” trial, where only hard tires could be used in Q1, medium tires in Q2, and soft tires in Q3, which resulted in a competitive qualifying session.
Lando Norris stormed into the 16m first half with his opening dribble, 1m16.904s to sit atop the standings, but the McLaren driver had his hopes dashed when Verstappen delivered the challenge to set 1m16.612s.
Hamilton then separated the duo who locked out the front row at Silverstone by 1m 16.738secs, showing the potential Mercedes had shown in a flash over the weekend.
When it came to the second and final series of runs, Verstappen’s first sector was less impressive than the first. Despite an improvement in the second part of the lap, he fell short of his earlier time and left him open to attack from the drivers behind him.
Norris came close, but just fell short after scoring 1m16.694s, but Hamilton was on Verstappen’s delta as the second sector closed. Although Mercedes appeared to go off the line in the final two corners, the seven-time champions retained their first title since 2021.
McLaren closed out the second row with Oscar Piastri pulling off the session’s best midsector, with Zhou Guanyu another star driver in qualifying as the Alfa Romeo driver put his car into fifth on Sunday.
Charles Leclerc was sixth ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who was half a tenth behind his Chinese teammate, with Fernando Alonso just 0.001 seconds behind the Finn to claim eighth place.
Sergio Pérez finished ninth on the grid after breaking a streak of five races without a Q3 appearance, with Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10 after he pulled Haas back into the top 10 in a penalty shootout.
Carlos Sainz was knocked out of the second part of qualifying by his Ferrari teammate Leclerc in a death lap, with the Spanish driver narrowly 0.002 seconds behind compatriot Alonso.
Verstappen suffered a scare when his initial Q2 schedule-leading effort was deleted for going over the track limits at Turn 5, aggressively prompting him to make a second effort on a fresh set of imposed medium tyre.
He broke into the top 10 with ease despite being contained on the sidelines with the white stripes, and dumped Esteban Ocon into the bottom five to put up an exciting battle to get into the final part of qualifying.
Bottas showed Alfa Romeo’s pace and moved up to fourth to ensure safety, precipitating the duel between the two Ferraris for the breakout.
Sainz was the one who missed out when Leclerc crept into the latter part of qualifying, but he was more than ten times ahead of Ocon – who is 12th in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo finished 13th for his return after replacing Nic de Vries at AlphaTauri, as Lance Stroll was promoted to 14th after Pierre Gasly’s final lap omission to the track limits. Recent times occurred within 1 second of each other.
George Russell had the biggest scalp in a wild Q1 session after being unable to improve on his time in the dying stages of the session, with Zhou Guanyu heading the standings on the hard tyres.
Russell is heard complaining about the high levels of traffic before the final lap, and passes Briton Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly before the final corner as they battle for track position. This left Russell on the back foot, and he crossed the stranded line on the 18th.
Alex Albon appeared to have made his escape from the relegation zone, but fell down the pecking order when Ricciardo sprinted to overtake Yuki Tsunoda at the first attempt. Albon was 0.8 seconds short of Zhou’s benchmark, with Tsunoda just 0.002 seconds shy of the Anglo-Tai driver.
Russell qualified ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant, with the American losing a lap due to track limits at the top of the session and then rocking through the Turn 6/7 chicane in another attempt to get out of the bottom five.
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