Lewis Hamilton was surprised to snatch pole position from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but the Briton isn’t expecting to add to his three wins around the Hungaroring in the scorching heat predicted for today’s race.
Hamilton, claiming his third pole position in a row and fourth overall this year, set a time of 1 minute 19.388 less than a tenth ahead of Vettel with Romain Grosjean third a further tenth of a second adrift in his Lotus.
Mercedes have been the qualifying specialists this year, with a silver car starting on pole position in seven of the 10 races so far, but come Sunday the car’s tendency to eat up its tyres has seen Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg tumble down the order.
“I’m not really looking forward to it. I was just saying to Sebastian, you know it’s just a shame that we obviously have good pace… we’ve got a good car so I think if we didn’t have the tyre issues we would be able to compete with the guys in the race,” Hamilton said after qualifying.
“It sucks in the way that I’m not able to have a race with these guys but we will do the best we can tomorrow,” the 2008 world champion, who has won the Hungarian Grand Prix three times, said.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg qualified fourth ahead of Vettel’s title rivals Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen who could only manage fifth and sixth.
With his title rivals having qualified in the middle of the top ten and the Hungaroring notoriously difficult to overtake on, Vettel could well stretch his legs further at the top of the title race.
Not so easy
But it’s likely to be a far from straightforward race for the reigning World Champion and managing the tyres in the searing heat will be crucial with Grosjean, whose car is one of the easiest on the tyres, potentially being able to run longer on the soft tyres.
“The Lotus usually is very good with the tyre, exceptional to everybody else. I think we are in a good position too,” Vettel said after qualifying.
“It will be a long race and surely tyres will be important but I think we are confident, as confident as we can be. How strong the Lotus will be I don’t know.
“The long runs didn’t look any, let’s say, special but we saw the same at the Nurburgring on the Friday so let’s see what happens tomorrow,” Vettel said.
Felipe Massa qualified seventh in the second Ferrari ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren’s Sergio Perez. Mark Webber — whose car suffered a KERS failure — rounded out the top 10, the Australian not setting a time in the final part of qualifying.