Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying: Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to score first pole position of his career

3 Aug

Max Verstappen held off the challenge from Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to secure the first pole position of his career for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Just six days after his sublime drive to victory in the rain at Hockenheim, Verstappen thrilled his travelling orange army once more with another imperious display.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has sparked life back into the F1 season by taking on Mercedes duo Hamilton and Bottas

The 21-year-old lit up the time sheets with a Hungaroring track record, finishing just 0.016 seconds ahead of Bottas with reigning Formula 1 champion Hamilton in third, two tenths back.

Verstappen crossed the line first, his lap greeted with huge cheers from the main grandstand, and despite late improvements by both Bottas and Hamilton, the Mercedes duo were unable to usurp the flying Dutchman.

The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel line up fourth and fifth with Verstappen’s team-mate Pierre Gasly sixth.

Leclerc hit the wall in Q1 after losing control of his Ferrari at the final corner. But swift repairs by his team allowed the Monegasque to carry on.

Max Verstappen celebrates the first pole position of his F1 career

“The car has felt good all weekend and it was flying in qualifying,” said Verstappen, moments after capturing pole.

“I am very happy about today. There is still a race to do and that is the most important thing.”

Hamilton, who holds a 63-point lead over Verstappen in the standings, said: “We always target first, but it got away from me.

“We are in a good position to fight for the win so we will be pushing hard for the victory tomorrow.

“I am always down for a fight. It is a long way down to turn one. It is not easy to overtake but hopefully we can give them a run for their money.”

Lewis Hamilton goes 24 points clear of Sebastian Vettel after dominant Hungarian Grand Prix victory

29 Jul

Lewis Hamilton extended his lead at the top of the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship after finishing first in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The British driver raced impeccably at the Hungaroring – getting quick off the mark after qualifying in pole position – before controlling the race to earn his fifth victory of the season.

Hamilton celebrates the win with his Mercedes team

Sebastian Vettel, who started from fourth, took on a different strategy to Hamilton, and did enough to get the jump on Valtteri Bottas, only for a slow pit stop to have seemingly cost him dearly.

The Ferrari driver emerged behind Bottas and it looked set to finish that way before Vettel took second by driving round the outside of the Finn at the first turn with five laps to go.

Bottas ran into the back of the Ferrari as he attempted to defend the position, but Vettel escaped without any damage to finish 17 seconds behind Hamilton, with Kimi Raikkonen third.

Bottas, who lost part of his front wing, finished fifth after a late collision with Daniel Ricciardo, who then overtook the Finn on the final lap in his second shot at the wounded Mercedes car.

Sebastian Vettel was made to pay for Ferrari’s errors this weekend

Hamilton now heads into the summer break 24 points ahead of Vettel, and his victory will be all the more sweeter with the Hungaroring circuit somewhat of a nemesis for Mercedes in recent times.

But the Englishman secured pole position with a masterful display in the wet conditions on Saturday, while his win 24 hours later never appeared in doubt.

The twisty track on the outskirts of Budapest is one of the toughest on the calendar to overtake, and Hamilton’s pole lap was pivotal.

He emphatically saw off the challenge from Bottas on the downhill run to the opening bend, and although he was a touch cautious on his brakes, the lead remained his.

Not since 2004 and Michael Schumacher has a driver taken the chequered flag in Hungary and gone on to clinch the championship.

Vettel made up one place on the first lap as he moved round the outside of team-mate Raikkonen at the left-handed second turn.

The German started on the more durable soft tyres, and assumed the lead of the race on lap 25 when Hamilton, on the purple-striped ultrasoft rubber, made his one and only stop.

Vettel ran 15 laps longer than Hamilton, and had put in a number of speedy laps to leapfrog Bottas, only to lose two seconds with a slow-fitting tyre. He emerged on Bottas’s tail, but failed to make an early move stick.

Yet with five laps to run, Vettel finally fought his way past, with Raikkonen following suit. Ricciardo then took fourth from Bottas after starting 12th.

Hamilton now has a strong lead over Vettel in the standings, but his sixth victory here will come with a warning; not since 2004 and Michael Schumacher has a driver taken the chequered flag in Hungary and gone on to clinch the championship.

Hamilton said: “We came here knowing Ferrari would be really quick this weekend, but to come out with these points, we’ll definitely take it as a bonus.

“I am really happy with how strong it’s come the last couple of races. We’ve got to come strong in the next half of the season.”