Hungarian GP: Rosberg on pole, fire puts Hamilton out in Q1
Nico Rosberg had a clear run to pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix after team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes caught fire early in qualifying.
Hamilton was the favourite for pole after topping all three free practice sessions, but he was eliminated just five minutes into Q1 when he stopped in the pit entry with the rear of his Mercedes ablaze thanks to a fuel leak.
But although this meant Rosberg’s main rival was not in contention, rain that struck at the start of Q3 made the world championship leader’s task difficult.
Rosberg was the first onto the track on slick tyres with conditions worsening, but with the first corner particularly wet he slid off into the runoff area on his first flier, ruining his lap.
But Kevin Magnussen, who was second on the road, also outbraked himself, hitting the tyre barrier on the outside of the corner and bringing out the red flag before anyone could set a time.
When qualifying resumed after an eight-minute delay, the rain had eased and while the track was slippery, everyone opted to continue on slicks.
With the track drying up, everyone went back out on slicks, with Rosberg going fastest on his second flying lap after a brief spell at the top of the times for Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.
But unlike Rosberg, who stayed out and used only one set of softs in Q3, Vettel pitted for new rubber and took top spot from the Mercedes driver on his final lap.
Moments later Rosberg improved, taking pole position by almost half-a-second.
Vettel held onto second ahead of Bottas, the latter also opting to pit for new tyres, with Daniel Ricciardo fourth fastest.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were fifth and sixth, both also having two runs in the restarted Q3 segment, with Jenson Button eighth ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne.
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg was the slowest of those to set a time in Q3 in ninth, with Magnussen classified 10th having not set a time before his crash.
Daniil Kvyat was in contention for a top 10 slot, but he locked the rears at Turn 12 on his final lap in Q2 and spun, ending up 11th.
Sauber driver Adrian Sutil was 12th ahead of Sergio Perez, who suffered a hydraulic leak during Q2 and could only attempt one run.
Esteban Gutierrez took 14th ahead of Romain Grosjean, with Jules Bianchi ending up 16th after an excellent performance to make the second stage of qualifying.
Kimi Raikkonen was a shock casuality during Q1, ending the session 17th fastest.
With Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado, whose Lotus had stopped early in Q1, not running, most teams opted not to send their cars out for a second run on the basis that they only needed to finish ahead of the Caterhams and the Marussias to make the next phase.
But Raikkonen was the slowest of those who did not attempt a run on soft rubber and when Bianchi put in his final lap, the Finn was relegated to the dropzone while sat in the garage.
Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi was 18th ahead of Max Chilton, who suffered a fuel pressure problem on his final run, with Marcus Ericsson slowest of those who set a lap.
Hamilton was classified 21st ahead of Maldonado thanks to starting a flying lap.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.715s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m23.201s +0.486s
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m23.354s +0.639s
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m23.391s +0.676s
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m23.909s +1.194s
6. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m24.223s +1.508s
7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.294s +1.579s
8. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m24.720s +2.005s
9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m24.775s +2.060s
10. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes
Q3 cut-off time: 1m24.647s
11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m24.706s +1.396s**
12. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.136s +1.826s
13. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m25.211s +1.901s
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.260s +1.950s
15. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.337s +2.027s
16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m27.419s +4.109s
Q2 cut-off time: 1m26.728s
17. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m26.792s +1.851s***
18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m27.139s +2.198s
19. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m27.819s +2.878s
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m28.643s +3.702s
21. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault
107 per cent time: 1m30.886s
** Gap to fastest in Q2
*** Gap to fastest in Q1
Hungarian GP: Lewis Hamilton edges Nico Rosberg in final practice
Lewis Hamilton cemented his status as favourite for pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix by topping Saturday morning free practice.
The Mercedes driver had a quiet start to the session, not going for laptimes on his early laps on the slower medium-compound Pirellis.
Hamilton was down in 18th place when he went out for his third run, still on the mediums, jumping to eighth fastest on his 14th lap on the rubber and then knocking Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari off top spot by almost three-tenths of a second on his 16th lap.
But with a big step in performance between the medium and the soft-compound Pirellis, the fastest laps were always going to be set on that rubber.
Hamilton had slipped to seventh by the time he started his qualifying simulation, but he set the fastest times in the first two sectors of the lap and then a personal best in the final one to knock team-mate Nico Rosberg off top spot with four minutes remaining.
Rosberg subsequently improved on his second attempt after a cool-down lap, closing the deficit to Hamilton from 0.453s to 0.229s. He then improved again, cutting the deficit to just 47-thousandths.
Sebastian Vettel then went third fastest on his qualifying simulation, four-tenths off the pace, with Valtteri Bottas just shaded to fourth fastest by the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, who had been the first of the frontrunners to go out on the soft Pirellis with 10 minutes remaining were briefly first and second after lapping just 49-thousandths apart.
But they eventually slid to sixth and seventh in the final reckoning, just ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren.
Scuderia Toro Rosso proved it would be a threat for Q3 this afternoon, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat ninth and 10th ahead of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button.
Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were down in 17th and 18th place behind the Saubers and the two Lotus entries, both unable to extract a competitive laptime from the soft rubber.
Kamui Kobayashi continued Caterham’s improved weekend by outpacing the Marussias of Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi, with team-mate Marcus Ericsson 21st after a brief spin at Turn 13.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m24.048s 21
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.095s +0.047s 24
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.455s +0.407s 16
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m24.678s +0.630s 15
5. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m24.685s +0.637s 21
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m24.769s +0.721s 11
7. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m24.818s +0.770s 19
8. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.867s +0.819s 21
9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m25.162s +1.114s 17
10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m25.170s +1.122s 19
11. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m25.231s +1.183s 18
12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.468s +1.420s 14
13. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m25.829s +1.781s 22
14. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.859s +1.811s 19
15. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.934s +1.886s 21
16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.023s +1.975s 23
17. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m26.035s +1.987s 19
18. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m26.142s +2.094s 17
19. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m27.560s +3.512s 23
20. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m28.083s +4.035s 17
21. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m28.605s +4.557s 22
22. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m28.821s +4.773s 14