Mercedes returned to the forefront in Hungary as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were the fastest drivers in qualifying at the Hungaroring. Max Verstappen will start from third aside of Sergio Perez.
On the back of Friday's weather expectations, the threat of rain completely disappeared. Instead, perfect conditions greeted the pack for qualifying at 29°C air temperature and thanks to the clear skies a track temperature reaching 57°C.
With such regular weather, qualifying started off with the usual suspects of Haas and Williams the first to take to the track. Mercedes followed fairly soon but it was Verstappen who ended up fastest a bit later. The Dutchman went fastest in every sector to improve on Hamilton by 0.210s.
Carlos Sainz ended up in fourth but saw himself in a very bad place when he came out of the pits. The Spaniard clearly wasn't too happy and resorted to going through the grass on the inside of Turn 1 to avoid causing too much of a problem for those on a flying lap.
Many drivers went out for a second time or even a third time towards the end of the session, including the Mercedes duo. Verstappen, Sainz, Gasly, Alonso and Ocon were the only 5 drivers to have made it through into Q2 with just three laps completed.
Out were Tsunoda, Russell - who apologised for a little mistake he made on his hot lap -, Latifi, Mazepin and Schumacher. The latter didn't leave the box as the Haas crew were still working on fixing his car's damage following his crash in FP3.
After a short wait, Q2 kicked off both Red Bulls and both Mercedes on the medium compound Pirelli tyres. Everybody else opted for the faster but less durable softs. It was Hamilton who emerged on top with the mediums, 2 tenths quicker than Verstappen, 0.530s ahead of Bottas and 0.650s ahead of Perez.
Leclerc meanwhile slotted into second as Alonso, Vettel and Gasly took positions 4 to 6. Carlos Sainz looked set to get into the mix there as well, but was a bit too eager in the final corner and spun off, sliding sideways into the tyre barriers. It was the end for his qualifying and bad now for his grid slot on Sunday.
The crash caused a red flag to halt the session for about 10 minutes. When it restarted at 15:41 local time there were 6 minutes and 40 seconds left on the Q2 countdown clock.
Following the break, Verstappen easily went fastest after fitting soft tyres, followed by Gasly and Perez, Alonso and Hamilton. The Mercedes driver did switch to soft tyres for his final run but opted not to complete it, resulting in medium tyres for both Mercedes at the start of Sunday's race. Everybody else from the top 10 were set on soft.
Running in Q3 was lead out by Pierre Gasly, followed by Norris. Verstappen with Hamilton just behind him opted for a very slow out-lap to avoid getting caught up in traffic, but resulting in a bit of a queue behind him.
When Verstappen crossed the line, he was more than 4 tenths quicker than his teammate, but Bottas, and then Hamilton improved on the Red Bulls. Verstappen soon complained over the radio he lacked grip with this set of tyres.
The only man not joining the early runs was Sebastian Vettel. He opted to enjoy the clear track a few minutes later, bringing him into 8th when he set his time, just 0.010s faster than Alonso and another tenth quicker than Norris who was slowest in the first runs.
The out-lap for the second flyer saw Hamilton take it easy on the pit exit, something Verstappen didn't really seem to be pleased about. Hamilton continued fairly slowly through the lap, following Bottas who did exactly the same. The slowness was so silly that at the penultimate corner they all did 35 km/h. It led to Perez being too late to cross the starting line as he was queuing up behind
Hamilton and Bottas didn't improve on their second runs and while Verstappen did, the tenth he gained wasn't enough to improve from third behind a Mercedes front-row lockout.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:16.214||1:15.650||1:15.840||17|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:17.233||1:16.443||1:16.421||16|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:16.874||1:16.394||1:16.483||15|
|6||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:17.081||1:16.385||1:16.489||17|
|8||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:17.367||1:16.766||1:16.653||15|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:17.123||1:16.541||1:16.715||15|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:17.105||1:16.794||1:16.750||15|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:17.664||1:16.871||13|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:17.038||1:16.893||12|
|13||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:17.553||1:17.564||15|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:17.776||1:17.583||12|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:17.919||8|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:17.944||8|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:18.036||8|
|19||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:18.922||9|