Hamilton can claim a historic 100th career victory and a record ninth win at the same Grand Prix on Sunday
By Yuri Coghe
Lewis Hamilton headed a Mercedes 1-2 in the qualifying session ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday and will start a race on pole position for the 101st time in his career.
The seven-time world champion set a 1.15:419 lap time to get one step closer to claiming a 100th career victory and a record ninth win at the same Grand Prix. Hamilton, who also has eight wins in his home race, the British GP, is currently tied for the stat with Michael Schumacher, who won the French GP eight times.
Hamilton’s time was 0.315 seconds faster than teammate Valtteri Bottas. The Briton can jump back to the lead of the drivers’ championship if he can score nine points more than rival Max Verstappen, who will start third – one position ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Pérez.
“It’s been amazing teamwork this weekend,” said Hamilton in the post-session interview while being booed by – presumably – Verstappen fans. “It’s definitely great having a lock-out for our team – first time in a long time.”
“Honestly I’ve never actually felt so great with the booing. If anything it just fuels me, so I don’t really mind it.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner commented on Hamilton slowing down before opening his final Q3 lap, leaving Sergio Perez unable to get a last attempt of improving his time. In the end, neither Hamilton nor Verstappen were able to improve their laps in their final go.
“Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank, and then obviously he’s just backing things up, up, up, and he doesn’t want to give obviously our cars a clean run,” Horner said. “But it’s his right to do that. He’s got the track position. We haven’t got a major issue. It’s all about tomorrow now.”
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Bottas mentioned the different tire strategies between the top F1 teams that can add some extra seasoning to Sunday’s race.
“Tomorrow will be exciting, the Red Bulls are on the soft tyres and we are on the medium, so all to play for and it’s going to be a good battle,” said the Finn. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Verstappen said Mercedes has the better pace for the weekend.
“I think the whole weekend we’ve been a bit behind and it showed in qualifying,” the Dutchman said. “We’re still there in P3 and we’ll see what we can do.”
Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 5, whereas his Alpha Tauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda was eliminated in the Q1 and will start the race 16th. The Japanese driver adds to a negative weekend so far after having caused a red flag on Friday during the first free practice session.
Lando Norris came right after, in sixth, followed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Their teammates had a different fate and were eliminated in the Q2. Daniel Ricciardo missed out in the Q3 by 0.77 seconds and will start Sunday’s race eleventh. Carlos Sainz Jr., 15th, triggered a red flag when he crashed in the final turn before he could post a Q2 lap time.
Alpine was able to place both of their drivers in the top 10, with Frenchman Esteban Ocon qualifying in eighth, one position ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Sebastian Vettel completed the top 10, two positions ahead of his Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll. The Canadian will start ahead of the Alfa Romeo duo of Kimi Raikkonen, 13th, and Antonio Giovinazzi, 14th.
Tough day at the office for Russell and Schumacher
After making it to the Q3 for two straight qualifying sessions, George Russell had a much different experience at the Hungaroring circuit.
The 23-year-old Briton was eliminated in the Q1 for the first time in the 2021 season – an impressive stat for a driver of one of the two teams who still remain with zero points in the constructors’ championship. He finished the session in P17, one position ahead of his Canadian Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi.
Mick Schumacher was unable to take part in the qualifying after crashing in the FP3 earlier on Saturday as the Haas team was still fixing his car. He will start Sunday’s race in P20, right behind teammate Nikita Mazepin.
The Hungarian Grand Prix, the last race before a three-week summer break, is set for 9 A.M. ET on Sunday.
See the full qualifying results: