Max Verstappen pipped Valtteri Bottas by 0.018s to get his first ever Formula 1 pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with the Mercedes drivers in second and third, as the Ferrari’s struggled to make the difference in the final sector and a scruffy crash for Leclerc didn’t make matters any better.
Verstappen’s record pole time in the Red Bull was a 1.14.572s, which gave him a narrow 0.018s advantage over Valtteri Bottas, however Hamilton was lacking almost two tenths, after it went wrong for the British driver during the first sector.
Story of the session
As the light went green, Stroll headed out first from the pit-lane in the Racing Point, with George Russell, the only point-less driver in 2019, following suit. Stroll momentarily went fastest, until Russell raised the bar, setting a 1.18.143 to go into top spot, with the top runners now taking out for their first runs.
As the Ferrari’s got in their first runs, Leclerc took to the top of the order with a 1.16.337, with Vettel some 0.2s adrift, meanwhile as the Mercedes’ got in their first laps, Bottas went second and Hamilton slotted into third place. This was until Verstappen smashed the track record with a 1.15.817, and over half a second faster than Leclerc’s benchmark lap.
Meanwhile, as the top three battle was heating up, Leclerc got throttle happy at the final corner and crashed into the wall, which ruined the Monegasque driver’s real-wing, however was able to make it back to the pits for repairs.
The final part of Q1 saw a massive level of track evolution. While the top runners didn’t have to take to circuit due to their gap, there was a tight battle between the midfield teams. However, Russell, Perez, Ricciardo, Stroll and Kubica all faced elimination. Whilst it was another Q1 elimination for the Williams team, Russell was less than a tenth away from a time needed to make the cut, which was encouraging progress for the struggling Grove based team.
As Q2 kicked off, the two Mercedes were first out closely followed by Q1 pacesetter Max Verstappen as well as both Ferrari’s – including Leclerc, who had the rear of his Ferrari repaired during the Q1/Q2 break. All these drivers took on medium tyres, thinking about the race for tomorrow.
As the first runs came to an end, Hamilton set the benchmark with a 1.15.548, with Verstappen just 0.025s adrift, with Bottas sitting a tenth down in third place. Meanwhile, Leclerc — with his rebuilt Ferrari — still managed to pip his team-mate to fourth place, with Gasly having quick a big deficit to the top 5.
As Q2 came to an end, Hulkenberg, Albon, Kvyat, Giovinazzi and Magnussen all faced elimination.
With Q3 underway, the battle was shaping up for a classic, given the close proximity between the front-runners during the first two qualifying sessions.
During the first runs, Verstappen smashed the record with a 1.14.958s, with Bottas almost two tenths adrift and Hamilton in third. However, the Ferrari’s fell away during the final sector, with Vettel fourth and Leclerc in fifth place.
During the final runs, it was the first pole position for Max Verstappen, heading Bottas by 0.018s, with Hamilton only in third place and Leclerc fourth.