Lewis Hamilton storms to Hungarian Grand Prix pole position in the wet
PUBLISHED: 20:29 28 July 2018 | UPDATED: 20:29 28 July 2018
Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will start the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position.
The 33-year-old F1 driver from Hertfordshire following his incredible comeback victory in last week’s German Grand Prix with a stunning pole lap in qualifying in the rain in Hungary.
Hamilton claimed his 77th career pole position, his sixth pole at the Hungaroring, and fifth of the 2018 season with a lap of 1m 35.658s.
It was his 125th front row in Formula One.
After qualifying, Hamilton said: “It’s a great feeling to lock out the front row, particularly with the tough weekend we’ve been having.
“In the dry, I thought I would be lucky to get third, fourth or maybe even fifth, as Ferrari have been quicker than us and Red Bull were fast too.
“But then the heavens opened and I knew we were in the game.
“The rain levelled the playing field and gave us that opportunity to make the difference.”
With Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas qualifying second, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport completed a front row lockout in a wet session in Budapest.
The Mercedes duo will start Sunday’s race ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who qualifying third and fourth respectively.
Hamilton is currently 17 points clear of Vettel in the championship race, and will extend that to 30 points if the top four in qualifying finish in those positions in Sunday’s grand prix.
The four-time world champion from Stevenage said: “I’m really proud of my team, they did a great job today and brought their A game.
“This has been a good track for me for years, but for some reason the last couple haven’t had that extra sauce that helps me get ahead.
“If it’s dry tomorrow, it’s all about positioning, as it’s so difficult to overtake here.
“It’s a long run down to Turn 1 so we have got to try and make sure there’s no space to get by.”
Bottas will start tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix from P2 on the grid, completing the fourth front-row lockout for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in 2018.
Bottas said: “On the one hand, today has been somewhat disappointing, as I wanted to get pole.
“On the other hand, I’m really happy for the team, a front-row lockout is the perfect result for us.
“This result would have been really difficult in the dry; but the wet conditions gave us the opportunity to be better today than Ferrari and Red Bull.
“It’s so tricky to get it right in the wet – it’s not easy to stay on track, let alone to be on the limit, trying to squeeze everything out of the car.
“It’s so tough if you know you only have one lap, but today everything just came together.”
Today’s result marks the 11th pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix for Mercedes-Benz power, a new record for engine suppliers.
Bottas added: “The team did an exceptional job with the timing and the tyre choices.
“As a team, we absolutely nailed it today. We now need to decide on the race strategy; there’s obviously two options for the start tyre – either the UltraSofts or the Softs.
“We will analyse the situation carefully and then make our choice.
“It’s great to start from P1 and P2 at a track like this where it is so difficult to overtake.
“We will give it everything to keep the Ferrari behind us and I’ll push hard to gain one position. It is going to be a good fight tomorrow.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was delighted to see his drivers finish on the front row ahead of Ferrari.
“That was such a tough qualifying, with a mix of UltraSoft, Intermediate and wet tyres at different points of the session – and the kind of day when it’s easier to drop the ball than not,” said Wolff.
“Ferrari looked a little bit better than us in the dry and on the intermediate tyre, perhaps we had a small advantage when it came to the extreme wet.
“But the difference today was made by the human factors, not the machines.
“Our team responded with calm focus to the ever-changing conditions, we saw the storms popping up and reacted in the right way, then it all came down to one lap on the wet tyres – and both Lewis and Valtteri nailed it.
“Congratulations to both of them on a faultless job. We have given ourselves the best starting position for tomorrow, now we need to turn that into a strong result.”
Mercedes technical director James Allison added: “This weekend has not been easy at any stage, and this afternoon our entire team really earned their money, from the tyre handlers, to the pit stop crew, the race engineers, strategists and, above all, our two drivers.
“It was a very difficult session, with lightning flashing all around us and changing levels of water not just from run to run, or from session to session, but often during the laps themselves.
“We somehow contrived to always be on track with the right tyre, at the right time and when it came down to the final shootout, with one shot at getting it done, two brilliant laps from Lewis and Valtteri put us on the front row.
“We don’t expect tomorrow to be any easier, but we can be very grateful that we didn’t stumble when tested this afternoon.”