World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel has claimed his eighth pole position for Red Bull Racing from 11 races: his third pole using the P Zero Red supersoft tires this year.
The top five qualifiers were within a half second of one another, with Vettel using the softest tires in Pirelli’s range to set a benchmark of 1m19.815s. Today’s performance marks his second consecutive pole in Hungary.
Tire strategy played a key part in proceedings throughout the qualifying session, with a number of teams concentrating more on saving the P Zero Red supersoft tire rather than their grid position. Sebastien Buemi was the only person to use just the soft tires in qualifying, placing 18th after being knocked out in Q1, but he carries through his full allocation of supersoft rubber to the race tomorrow. During Q2, Williams driver Pastor Maldonado did not go out at all, while McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was the only driver to secure their place in Q3 by using just the soft tire.
All the top drivers used the P Zero Red supersoft tires during Q3, with Hamilton becoming the first driver of the weekend to get under the 1m20s barrier. Most of the frontrunners completed two runs during the final session, with pole decided in a tense finale. During the final minute, Hamilton and Vettel were closely matched throughout the opening sector of the lap but eventually it was the German driver who edged pole position by a tenth of a second.
Hamilton’s second place on the grid equals his best of the season, which he has secured three times so far this year. With 16 out of the last 25 Hungarian grands prix being won from the front row, grid position has historically been vital.
Vettel was also quickest in the final practice session this morning, following some set-up changes on his car overnight. Using the P Zero Red supersoft tires, Vettel set a time of 1m21.168s.
Sauber driver Sergio Perez claimed his best qualifying result of the year so far, with 10th place, despite not setting a time in Q3. He previously entered Q3 in Monaco, but was not able to start the race following his accident.
Conditions remained warm and dry all day, with an ambient temperature of 23 degrees Celsius during the qualifying session. Even warmer weather is expected for the race tomorrow, which should be dry, increasing the demands on the tires.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “This qualifying session was one of the most tense of the season, with the final outcome hanging in the balance until the closing seconds. It’s interesting to note that Lewis Hamilton has saved himself a set of supersoft tires, so we’ll see if he is trying a slightly different strategy tomorrow. I think that most people will decide to stop three times tomorrow, but the track is still evolving constantly and that should make some longer runs possible. It is good to see Sergio Perez in the top 10 too, so we should be in for an intriguing race tomorrow.”
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