Lewis Hamilton masters the rain to take pole in Hungary

July 28 2018 , 9:50 pm

Lewis Hamilton took pole position in an extraordinary qualifying hour for the Hungarian GP, while title rival Sebastian Vettel lost out in the rain.

As a heavy rain downpour brought chaos and wiped out the advantage Ferrari had held in dry conditions, Hamilton endorsed his reputation as a master of the wet by taking pole by three tenths from Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

“We couldn’t have expected this,” said Hamilton. “Ferrari have been quickest all weekend. Then the heavens opened and it was fair game.”

Mercedes had struggled in Friday’s heat when they overheated their tyres. But that characteristic of working the Pirelli tyres hard worked to the Silver Arrows’ advantage around a sodden Hungaroring while Ferrari faltered.

Beaten by Scuderia colleague Kimi Raikkonen, who briefly held provisional during a frantic Q3 shoot-out, Vettel was only fourth.

“We weren’t quick enough,” rued Vettel. “It was difficult. The laps I did were fine but just not quick enough. In the wet we aren’t as confident as in the dry.”

Critically, Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of wet tyres with just minutes remaining before returning to the soaked tarmac and finding just enough grip to beat the two Finns as the chequered flag fell.

“We were lucky with the weather,” admitted Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “In the dry we didn’t have the pace.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was caught out when heavy rain fell at the start of Q2 and failed to reach the shoot-out while Max Verstappen was just seventh behind Renault’s Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.

“When I saw the rain coming before Qualifying I thought there could be an opportunity, and the result of P6 is just incredible,” said Gasly.

Verstappen was later cleared by the stewards of impeding Romain Grosjean, but his escape couldn’t disguise the disappointment of Red Bull’s day.

“It was more bad luck than anything else,” said Ricciardo of his early exit. “I needed to get my first lap in but Lance Stroll spun in front of me. So I aborted that lap and then it got too wet for intermediate tyres.”

Fernando Alonso was eleventh and reacted with incredulity when McLaren suggested he switched to wet tyres in order to make Q3.

A day after the team entered administration, Force India suffered their worst on-track result of the season as both Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez failed to progress past Q1.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s struggles continued at McLaren with the Belgian eliminated at the first hurdle in the fifth successive qualifying session. Still without an internal Saturday win all season, Vandoorne will start his summer holiday 12-0 down to Alonso in qualifying and his F1 future in grave danger.


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