Monday 25 September 2017

Lewis Hamilton makes it three straight poles in Hungary

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton

Ian Parkes

Lewis Hamilton made it three pole positions in a row for the first time in his Formula One career as he confounded himself and his team.

In sweltering conditions, as the Hungaroring basked in 33 degree heat and the track temperature hit a very rare 50, Hamilton also sizzled in his Mercedes.

The 28-year-old Briton dislodged Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel from top spot in a stunning top-10 shoot-out with a flying lap of one minute 19.388secs, leaving the triple world champion 0.034secs adrift.

Mercedes headed into the weekend readily conceding they were on the backfoot, with motorsport director Toto Wolff admitting there was no chance of claiming pole.

The Brackley-based marque were banned from the young driver test at Silverstone last week when Pirelli debuted their new specification of tyres.

Marrying last year's construction with this season's compounds, the tyres have been introduced for safety reasons after a number of blowouts occurred during the British Grand Prix last month.

Mercedes initially struggled during practice as they gathered the necessary data required to make the correct calls on set up.

But even when Hamilton crossed the line at the death to claim top spot on the grid and was informed of the fact, he replied: "Pole?"

Lotus' Romain Grosjean lines up ahead of Merceces' Nico Rosberg who had been quickest in Q1 and Q2, with Vettel's title rivals Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen for Lotus fifth and sixth.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa will start seventh ahead of Daniel Ricciardo for Toro Rosso, with McLaren's Sergio Perez ninth.

Mark Webber, who scraped into Q3 but with a KERS issue, failed to set a time in the last 10 minutes and will start 10th.

Adrian Sutil was ousted from a place in the top 10 right at the death of Q2 by Perez, missing out by 0.024secs and will line up 11th in his Force India, followed by German compatriot Nico Hulkenberg for Sauber

Jenson Button finished two tenths of a second behind Perez in Q2 and could only manage 13th, with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne alongside him on the grid, whilst Williams' duo Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas occupy row eight.

Esteban Gutierrez starts 17th for Sauber after suffering an engine issue during final practice, resulting in the Mexican failing to set a timed lap, so clearly compromising him during qualifying.

Paul Di Resta, who has struggled so far this weekend, endured another tough Saturday afternoon in the cockpit of his Force India.

Seemingly struggling with the new construction of tyres, the Scot starts 18th in his Force India following his worst qualifying performance this year.

Caterham's recent improvements mean they lock out the 10th row, with Charles Pic ahead of Giedo van der Garde, leaving Marussia duo Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton bringing up the rear.

After claiming the 30th pole overall of his F1 career, Hamilton said: "I was really surprised when I was told I had it because I was expecting Seb to get it.

"Pole definitely helps, of course because it's very difficult to follow here, but it is a long way down to turn one.

"If you can hold pole into turn one then it will be advantageous, but as always the race is going to be about the tyres and trying to hold on to them (to avoid degradation).

"These guys (Vettel and Grosjean) are going to be ridiculously fast, so trying to keep in front or hold on to them is going to be the challenge."

Vettel conceded "there was not much missing" from his two attempts at pole before adding that "Lewis did a great job".

Vettel added: "I was happy with both laps, although the middle sector on the second lap wasn't that great.

"But it's always easy with hindsight to say you could have done more here, more there.

"Overall, it was just not quick enough. I'd surely love to be a bit faster, but we're still in a great place for tomorrow.

"We should have a good race because the car feels fine."

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