Lewis Hamilton only fourth fastest in 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying
PUBLISHED: 16:47 29 July 2017 | UPDATED: 19:29 29 July 2017
Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton will start from the second row of the grid as he chases a sixth Hungarian Grand Prix victory.
The 32-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas driver from Hertfordshire could only qualify fourth fastest in Budapest today as Ferrari dominated 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel stormed to his second pole position of the season ahead of Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen with a blistering lap of 1m 16.276s. Raikkonen clocked 1m 16.444s in Q3.
Silver Arrows drivers Valtteri Bottas and Stevenage-born F1 star Hamilton will start the 11th race of the 2017 season from the second row.
Bottas ended qualifying in P3 with a time of 1m 16.530s, with Hamilton 0.177 seconds shy in P4 in the provisional results.
The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fifth and sixth in qualifying.
The Mercedes team made a good step forward with car set-up following a difficult FP3 session.
Both drivers completed one run on SuperSoft in Q1, then two SuperSoft runs in Q2 and Q3.
Hamilton said: “This hasn’t been the easiest weekend for us. The car didn’t feel completely underneath me during practice but we made some changes into qualifying and the feeling started to improve.
“We knew Ferrari would be quick after seeing their pace this morning, so considering that fact I think we did pretty well to lock out row two.
“My laps in qualifying were generally good but I made a mistake in Turn 4 on the first run in Q3, so after that it was all about getting in a banker lap to make sure I set a time.”
Hamilton added: “Looking to the race, maybe strategy or the tyres will come into play in a bigger way.
“Ferrari seems to have the upper hand this weekend and this race is usually a procession on a circuit where it is hard to follow, so there aren’t many opportunities to gain positions. But we will be giving it everything we can.”
After qualifying Bottas said: “I had to give it everything today. In my first run, the lap was already quite good.
“Then on the second run in Q3, I was fast in sector one and two but then the tyres overheated and I lost time in sector three.
“Overall I don’t think there was much more in it for us today.”
He added: “I was surprised by the pace of Ferrari. Yesterday we were hoping that it going to be a really tight fight for the pole.
“It was but they had the advantage. Now we need to focus on tomorrow.
“It will be really close on race pace between the top three teams. Starting from third is not too bad. I need a good start and hopefully we can nail the strategy tomorrow.”
Mercedes supremo Toto Wolff was encouraged by the team’s performance after third practice.
He said: “The biggest positive point we can take from today was the step forward we made with the car between FP3 and qualifying.
“After a difficult morning, this put us back in the hunt for pole, but in the end we didn’t have enough at this circuit against Ferrari.
“Valtteri only missed out on a place on the front row by a small fraction of a second – but this also means he will start from the clean side of the grid.
“For Lewis, the car has been on a bit of a knife edge all weekend and, after he ran wide on his first lap in Q3, that put him on the back foot for the final run.
“When you only have one lap that counts, it’s hard to pull everything out of the car – and we knew we needed to squeeze every last drop of performance today if we were to get close to pole.
“Of course, starting behind two red cars doesn’t make life any easier but it’s a long run to turn one – and this is a circuit where the unexpected can happen.
“The strategy options look pretty straightforward, so we will need to do our racing out on track not in the pits. It will be an exciting but tough afternoon tomorrow.”
Mercedes technical director James Allison added: “We made some good steps forward with the car after third practice but they were not sufficient to beat a fast pair of Ferraris today.
“We can be happy that we are now extracting consistent performance from the SuperSoft compound, which was a concern for us earlier in the weekend, but now all our focus shifts to the Grand Prix – and we had pretty solid pace during the runs in race trim on Friday.”