Qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, where the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres have been nominated, got underway in 30 degrees centigrade ambient temperature and 45 degrees centigrade track temperature: the warmest weather seen all weekend. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying, claiming his team’s 150th pole position by four-tenths of a second after going quickest in every session. The Englishman, on pole for the third time this year, was also fastest in both free practice sessions yesterday.
During Q1, with temperatures climbing, all the teams apart from Caterham, HRT and Marussia started on the medium tyre before most drivers went onto the soft tyre in the closing stages as the track evolved. Only the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen continued running the medium tyre until the end of the session, while Hamilton also set his fastest time on the medium halfway through and also did not use the soft tyre.
The 17 cars that went through to Q2 all started on the soft tyre, with Hamilton again setting fastest time while Williams driver Bruno Senna got into Q3 for the first time this year. The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and the Sauber of Sergio Perez set an identical time, but both failed to make the top 10.
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg went straight out on the medium tyres in Q3, with the remaining drivers going out on the soft tyres. Only the McLaren and the Lotus drivers set a time in the first half of the session, with the remaining drivers coming out for one run only in the final minutes. Pole position was decided in the closing seconds, with both of Hamilton’s fastest laps good enough for pole position. All the top 10 set their fastest time on the soft tyre, with which they will start the race tomorrow.
Red Bull driver Mark Webber went fastest in the final free practice session, this morning with a time of 1m21.550s on the soft tyre, set halfway through the session. Hamilton was second fastest on the same tyre, during a busy session where the drivers maximised dry running to make up for the wet weather yesterday afternoon. The difference in time between the two compounds was slightly higher than it was yesterday: around one second per lap.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and McLaren on a dominant performance; well done also to our former test driver Romain Grosjean, who claimed his best ever qualifying position with second. There was plenty of track evolution over the course of the day, despite the dust that is a characteristic of this circuit, exacerbated by a couple of off-track excursions in qualifying. In the final session, we saw some different tactics, with McLaren, Lotus and one Force India opting for two runs, while the rest just did one run. We’re expecting to see two pit stops tomorrow from what we can tell so far, although the comparatively low wear rate means that some might even attempt a one-stop strategy. There is still a risk of rain tomorrow, and that could obviously alter the whole complexion of the race.”
Tyres used by the top ten qualifiers:
Hamilton: 1:20.953s - Soft
Grosjean: 1:21.366s - Soft
Vettel: 1:21.416s – Soft
Button: 1:21.583s - Soft
Raikkonen: 1:21.730s - Soft
Alonso: 1:21.844s - Soft
Massa: 1:21.900s - Soft
Maldonado: 1:21.939s - Soft
Senna: 1:22.343s - Soft
Hulkenberg: 1:22.847s - Soft