Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying review
The action was hot during this afternoon’s Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying session, and it was not just atmospheric. With the temperatures soaring in Mogyoród, the cars took to the track to begin qualifying.
Rumours were circulating around the paddock, especially in F1?s notorious tyre destroyers Mercedes, that the new tyres Pirelli have brought to Hungary – which are designed specifically to wear quickly to provoke more pit stops – are going to be an issue this weekend, due to track temperatures rising to high temperatures. However, there were no such issues in qualifying, but the race is where the majority of the action takes place, so we’ll have to see if any such problems pop up.
As qualifying started, the air temperature was a pretty toasty 33c, and the pole position shootout was no doubt going to be between the top four teams at the moment – Red Bull, Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari.
With Lewis Hamilton having taken the last two poles, he was hotly tipped for pole again this weekend. With three wins already to his name at the Hungaroring, he has more than enough experience to take pole and the win, but he had last race’s winner Sebastian Vettel hounding him down, ready and willing to take a greater lead in the championship.
Eleven minutes into the first session, the top four teams were still parked quite happily in their respective garages. The track temperature at this point had hit an almost ridiculous temperature of 50 degrees Celsius, so the temperatures inside the cockpit for the drivers must have been verging on unbearable.
As the top teams came out, Romain Grosjean was the first of the top drivers to notch a time on the board, with a great time of 1:20.447; unfortunately for him, it was quickly beaten the two Mercedes drivers, who finished the session first and second, with the German Nico Rosberg topping the timesheets.
Paul Di Resta, who was complaining about the lack of grip on the radio, was unfortunately knocked out of the first session again this season. Paul seems to be having an up-and-down season, usually getting good results in the races when starting from a reasonable position, but he has been knocked out of the first session of qualifying once too many times this season, I feel. He has qualifying badly this season, and he needs to pick that area of his game up, or he can kiss any chance of a higher team calling for his signature goodbye.
Drivers knocked out of the first session are as follows (17-22): Esteban Gutierrez, Paul Di Resta, Charles Pic, Giedo Van Der Garde, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
Very soon after the second session began, Mark Webber, who seems to have the worst KERS system ever devised for Formula One, had yet another failure. This always seems to be him that has that specific problem – I personally think that Helmut Marko is…no, that would be preposterous. Either way, that hampered his second qualifying session, and as such, he only just managed to squeeze into the third and final session.
Nico Rosberg managed to notch the fastest time of the second session as well, but will he be able to continue his good run of form this session and take pole position for the fourth time this season?
Drivers out in Q2: 11) Adrian Sutil 12) Nico Hulkenberg 13) Jenson Button 14) Jean-Eric Vergne 15) Pastor Maldonado 16) Valtteri Bottas
As Q3 began, I had an idea that one of the two Mercedes drivers would grab the pole position for this weekend, but which one? Saying that, Sebastian Vettel always leaves a little in reserve for Q1 and 2, so he is always going to be a threat.
Early on, he showed his prowess and laid down a gauntlet, with a time of 1:19.506, which was faster than anyone had managed so far. Could that be beaten? The incredibly fast-over-a-single-lap Mercedes car piloted by one Lewis Hamilton showed that it could be, and managed to take his 30th career pole with a time 0.038 faster than the German.
This cements Mercedes’s place as the fastest car over one lap, but will their speed continue during the race? The pole sitter doesn’t seem to think so. “I was really surprised to get pole,” Hamilton stated. “I was expecting Sebastian to get it and it didn’t even feel that great a lap. We’ve brought some upgrades this weekend and the guys have been working incredibly hard.”
I think that Hamilton was trying to lull everyone into a false sense of security about his car. It was quite obvious that Hamilton and Rosberg were well on form and up for pole, so I don’t buy his surprising stature. However, a question mark still hangs over Mercedes’s race pace and how well they handle the tyres, which is made harder by the fact that there are new tyres this weekend.
I don’t think Hamilton will win the race tomorrow, but rather Vettel. As much as I dislike him winning (I want this season to be interesting and climactic, which won’t happen if he runs away to his fourth straight championship), he has the best chance in the best car. Alonso and Raikkonen will be wanting to make up lost ground with a 5th and 6th place start respectively.
I hope the heat continues in tomorrow’s race, and I hope the action is even hotter.