Friday 30 September 2016

Lewis Hamilton storms to pole position in Hungary

Philip Duncan

Published 25/07/2015 | 14:59

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany and team mate Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain react after the qualifying sesson for the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit, near Budapest
Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany and team mate Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain react after the qualifying sesson for the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit, near Budapest

Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix after his sizzling form showed no sign of relenting in the searing Budapest heat.

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The world champion, fastest in every practice session so far this weekend, posted a best lap of one minute 22.020 seconds to qualify ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel will start from third with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo joining the four-time world champion on the second row.

Hamilton, who is bidding for a record fifth victory at a track in which he excels, was over half a second clear of Rosberg. He punched the air in delight as he crossed the start-finish line.

It marked the 47th pole of Hamilton's career and his ninth from 10 outings this season. Sunday's race will also be the 18th consecutive front-row start for the 30-year-old. Only his idol Ayrton Senna with 24 has more.

"It has been a good weekend so far," said a beaming Hamilton, who had a sticker on his crash helmet reading "FlyHighJules" in tribute to Jules Bianchi who died last week.

"I generally have good experiences here - I'm loving the weather, loving the city.

"In terms of how the weekend has gone I am incredibly happy. I can't remember ever having the kind of performance that I have had this weekend."

A downcast Rosberg sitting next to his triumphant team-mate said: "I don't have an explanation. It has been up and down all weekend. I am definitely not happy with the way it went today."

While it was business as usual for Hamilton, there was yet more misery for his former team McLaren in a campaign which descended into farce here.

Firstly, Jenson Button was eliminated at the first hurdle for the eighth time from 10 races. The 2009 world champion, a two-time winner at the Hungaroring, was down on power after suffering an ERS failure and will start a lowly 16th.

Then, his team-mate Fernando Alonso stopped on track in Q2 with a mechanical issue. The Spaniard leapt out of his McLaren and attempted to push his car back to the garage in a desperate bid to post a timed lap.

The session was red flagged with Alonso, assisted by a handful of track marshalls, wheeling his McLaren down the pit-lane.

In 32 degree heat, the double world champion waved to the crowd as he he jogged alongside his car. A host of McLaren mechanics came to Alonso's rescue, but with the session up and running, it was too late for the former Ferrari driver to take to the track. He failed to set a time and will start one place ahead of Button in 15th.

Alonso and Button are both sporting one-off golden boots to celebrate McLaren's 10-year collaboration with Johnnie Walker.

But these are far from golden moments for McLaren and the image of Alonso desperately wheeling his car back to the garage is an image that defines their lacklustre year.

Kimi Raikkonen, who recovered from a water leak in Saturday's practice session, will start from fifth on the grid with Valtteri Bottas, the man who could yet replace him at Ferrari next season, in sixth.

Daniil Kvyat will line up in seventh, Felipe Massa eighth, Max Verstappen ninth and Romain Grosejan, in his Lotus, completing the top 10.

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