Hamilton surprises with stellar Hungarian pole
Lewis Hamilton has vaulted his Mercedes to pole position for tonight’s Hungarian Grand Prix, breaking Max Verstappen’s five race pole streak by a mere 0.003s in Budapest.
It was Hamilton’s first pole since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, 594 days ago, and only the second time a Red Bull hasn’t been on pole in 2023.
Verstappen will start alongside his former rival on the front row, although history shows that starting second in Hungary isn’t exactly a good omen. The last driver to do so was Hamilton in 2016, with only 6 drivers winning from that position in the 37 previous races.
(Photo by FIA)
The results came amidst a new format for Formula 1 qualifying, with teams only allowed to use one tyre compound during each session, setting up an interesting grid for the race at 11pm AEST tonight.
The format’s biggest casualty by far was Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate George Russell. A year after securing his first ever pole at this exact race, he was unable to get out of Q1 and will start a lowly 18th on the grid.
Another casualty was Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari, who will start 11th, meaning both front row drivers from last year’s race will start outside the top 10.
It was another impressive showing for McLaren, with both Lando Norris and Aussie Oscar Piastri showing their pace from Silverstone was genuine. Norris will start third, with Piastri fourth.
Besides Hamilton, the star of qualifying was easily Zhou Guanyu for Alfa Romeo, with the Chinese driver securing his best ever grid start in sixth place, ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Fernando Alonso was eighth for Aston Martin as the team continues to fall back, ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull. While the Mexican finally broke his five race streak without a Q3 appearance, he still will be disappointed being so far back from his teammate.
Nico Hulkenberg once again impressed in qualifying, filling out the top 10 in his Haas.
For Daniel Ricciardo, it was an impressive return, qualifying in 13th place, four spots ahead of his AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda and only four spots behind Perez, the man who he is hoping to eventually replace in the senior Red Bull team.
And while Ricciardo sets his sights on his first race in over six months, Lewis Hamilton will be setting his sights on his first win in nearly two years and aiming to be the first driver not in a Red Bull to win a race in 2023.
1 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes 1:16.609 2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.003 3 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.085 4 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.296 5 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +0.362 6 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.383 7 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.425 6 8 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.426 9 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.436 10 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +0.577 11 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari 1:17.703 12 Esteban OCON Alpine 1:17.841 13 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri 1:18.002 14 Lance STROLL Aston Martin 1:18.144 15 Pierre GASLY Alpine 1:18.217 16 Alexander ALBON William 1:18.917 17 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri 1:18.929 18 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:19.081 19 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team 1:19.206 20 Logan SARGEANT Williams 1:19.248
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here