Lewis Hamilton will start the Hungarian Grand Prix from his 90th career pole position after setting a new track record at the Hungaroring. Hamilton’s time of 1m13.447s beat the previous best time around the circuit, set by Max Verstappen in qualifying last year, by 1.125s.
Mercedes has been in a class of its own all weekend, and the battle for pole was exclusively between Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas ran Hamilton close but started with a 0.3s disadvantage after their first laps, and although he managed to close the gap, Hamilton managed to squeeze an extra 0.166s from the car the second time around to beat the Finn by a tenth.
“I have to pinch myself because it doesn’t register,” Hamilton said of scoring his 90th pole. “It’s quite humbling, to be honest.
“Valtteri doesn’t make it easy for me at all, so it requires absolute perfection. It was really nicely hooked up today.”
It marked the 65th time Mercedes has locked out the front row, equaling Ferrari’s all-time record.
“As a team we’re on a really strong level, really far from the other teams, which is good for us, “ Bottas said. “As always it’s going to be a bit of a drag race to Turn 1 between us, so I look forward to that.”
Racing Point was the next-best team, but the pink cars were still almost a second off the pace, with Lance Stroll leading Sergio Perez to lock out the second row of the grid.
“I’m very happy at the moment,” Stroll said. “The car was really strong all the way throughout qualifying — throughout the whole weekend, really. We’ve had the pace and it was just about piecing it all together throughout that qualifying session.”
Such was Racing Point’s advantage over the balance of the field that the team was the only one other than Mercedes to use the medium-compound tire in Q2 despite its estimated half-second deficit.
Ferrari was next-best, with Sebastian Vettel leading Charles Leclerc in fifth and sixth in the team’s first double Q3 appearance of 2020. The third row of the grid is a major step forward for Ferrari, though its blushes were spared by an off-color weekend for Red Bull Racing, which has struggled to set up its car all weekend. Max Verstappen was the team’s best qualifier in seventh, but he was 1.4s off the pace and suffered from poor balance and power unit problems throughout, and teammate Alex Albon couldn’t even make it into the top 10.
McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz were separated by just 0.061s in eighth and ninth respectively ahead of Pierre Gasly, who didn’t set a time in 10th after a power unit problem at the end of Q2.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified 11th for Renault, just edging 12th-placed George Russell, who made his second consecutive Q2 appearance for Williams.
Albon was an immensely frustrated 13th for Red Bull. The Thai driver was vociferously unhappy throughout qualifying, complaining during Q1 of a lack of low-speed stability that triggered an in-garage investigation of the underside of the front of his car.
Things improved little in Q2. Albon spent the session in the knockout zone from beginning to end and radioed testily on his slow-down lap that he’d been sent out in traffic.
Esteban Ocon qualified 14th in the second Renault ahead of Nicholas Latifi, the Canadian making his first Q2 appearance just three rounds into his Formula 1 career. It also marked the first time two Williams drivers made it through to the second qualifying segment since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix.
Kevin Magnussen couldn’t capitalize on a frantic final few minutes of Q1 to escape the drop zone. The track was ramping up rapidly with the clearance of some moisture from the air, turning the leaderboard on its head with five minutes to go, but the Haas driver fell short of the cut-off by just 0.047s to qualify 16th.
Daniil Kvyat qualified 17th ahead of Romain Grosjean in the second Haas car.
Alfa Romeo locked out the back row of the grid, with Antonio Giovinazzi leading Kimi Raikkonen by a tenth of a second.