Hamilton scores record-breaking ninth pole position in Hungary

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After a damp Friday practice day, it’s time for Qualifying at the sunny Hungaroring, with a track temperature of 46°C. The mixed conditions saw three different drivers – Russell, Leclerc and Hamilton – leading the three free practise building up to the grid deciding session, with championship leader Max Verstappen trailing a bit behind.

Today a new qualifying format will be tested out, with every qualifying segment to be completed on a different tyre compound. Q1 will be decided on hard tyres, Q2 on mediums and the conclusive Q3 on softs. It’ll also be the first qualifying session of the season for former McLaren and Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who has replaced Nyck De Vries in AlphaTauri.

All the drivers roll out on track, with the Williams driver last to join the grid. The best early lap was put in by Perez, quickly bested by Valtteri Bottas with a 1:18.818s, whereas Kevin Magnussen is the first driver to see his time deleted for track limits.

Many drivers opted for a two push lap strategy, with Albon slotting in P8 after his first attempt. The Red Bull drivers in their second round still can’t improve Bottas’s time, polished of a hundredth of a second, with Perez ahead of Verstappen.

Track limits might turn out to be an issue here as well after a crazy time in Austria, as Piastri, Sargeant, Albon and Zhou all see their lap times cancelled and fall down to the bottom of the timings. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz is surprisningly among the drivers provisionally out with the AlphaTauris and the Williams drivers.

Another factor to track in will definitely be track evolution, as Verstappen slots in P1 and Gasly in P2 ahead of Bottas, with many flying laps put in in the final heated moments of the session. Zhou goes fastest in 1:18.143s with two minutes to go, ahead of the Ferrari drivers after McLaren’s Lando Norris’s effort was cancelled.

It appears to be a tough time for Mercedes, with Russell in P14 and Hamilton in P17 after being fastest in two of the previous three sessions of the weekend. The seven times World Champion has a tough moment as he nearly has to stop while preparing for his final attempt, but manages to score the seven fastest time to move on to the next segment.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

His teammate George Russell isn’t as happy, complaining to his team about the traffic found as he was the last to exit the pits. Alfa Romeo’s Zhou ends the session in P1 ahead of the Red Bulls, with Ricciardo managing to make the cut in his first Q1 back with the Italian team, thus starting ahead of his teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Out in Q1: Albon, Tsunoda, Russell, Magnussen, Sargeant.

Lance Stroll is under investigation for impeding Valtteri Bottas, with the incident to be investigated after the end of the session.

Perez puts in the first timed lap of Q2 in 1:17.675s, bested by Verstappen by 0.400s, but the Dutch driver’s time was deleted for track limits. The McLarens both go faster than Perez, with Norris leading in 1:17.328s.

Provisionally out are former session leader Bottas, Ricciardo, Gasly, Stroll and Verstappen. Bottas’s teammate Zhou is in P6 after the first round of attempts.

Everyone bar Norris returns out on track for a second attempt. Verstappen’s first legal attempt puts him 0.219s off the McLaren driver’s P1 lap, returning to the pits.

It was another very fast paced end of the session, which sees yet another important name not making the cut to Q3 in the form of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz out for a 0.002s gap to Alonso’s time in P10. After the elimination of 2022 pole sitter George Russell, the driver lining up next to him in the front row Sainz won’t be fighting for pole as well.

Hamilton slots ahead of Verstappen for P2 as Bottas moves up to P4, ahead of Piastri and Hulkenberg.

The Aston Martin driver is left the only driver in the season to always make the cut to Q3, as Perez returns for the first time to the pole deciding segment after five races.

Out in Q2: Sainz, Ocon, Ricciardo, Stroll, Gasly

Perez puts in the first timed lap of Q3 as well, in 1:17.142s, with Hulkenberg in P2 and Norris taking from him provisional pole by 0.243s.

Verstappen is the next driver in the lead, with Hamilton slotting in P2 at the end of the first round of attempts.

Leclerc moves up to P4 ahead of Alonso, but his time is bested by Piastri, with his McLaren teammate slotting in P2, but at the final opportunity Lewis Hamilton snatches Verstappen’s pole position by 0.003s, with Zhou slotting in P5. Hamilton becomes the first driver to score nine pole positions at the same track.

Hamilton, Verstappen, Norris, Piastri, Zhou, Leclerc, Bottas, Alonso, Pérez and Hülkenberg is the top 10 for tomorrow.