Nico Rosberg beats Max Verstappen to Belgian Grand Prix pole
Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix, but was pushed hard by Red Bull Formula 1 rival Max Verstappen.
With Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton choosing not to try for pole, on account of a 55-place grid penalty for multiple F1 engine changes so far at Spa, Rosberg looked set to face a relatively unchallenged run to pole.
He was fastest in Q2 on the soft tyre with a 1m46.999s lap, which was quicker than Verstappen could manage on the super-soft.
Rosberg bolted on the super-softs for Q3, but couldn’t find much more time on them.
He improved to a 1m46.744s best on his first run in Q3, which was enough to beat Verstappen to pole by 0.249 seconds when neither driver managed to go faster on their final runs.
Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest for Ferrari, almost two tenths clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who lost time to a big oversteer moment at the Bus Stop chicane on his final flying lap. Raikkonen also dropped time at the end of his lap, and felt that cost him a shot at pole.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest in the second Red Bull, just over three tenths down on Verstappen.
Ricciardo endured a poor first run in Q3, but improved enough on his second to make the top six.
Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg took sixth and seventh places respectively for Force India, while fellow Mercedes customer team Williams suffered software problems with both cars in Q3.
This meant it couldn’t run full qualifying mode on the engines, restricting Valtteri Bottas to eighth and Felipe Massa to 10th.
Massa also locked his brakes heavily at La Source on his single Q3 run, and Jenson Button’s McLaren-Honda was able to squeak ahead of him into ninth place.
Button’s place in Q3 came at the expense of Romain Grosjean’s Haas, which ended up missing the cut by 0.265s.
Renault delivered its best qualifying performance of the season so far with Kevin Magnussen 12th fastest and team-mate Jolyon Palmer 14th.
They were split by the second Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, which faces a five-place grid penalty for impeding Pascal Wehrlein’s Manor at Raidillon in final practice.
Wehrlein made it through to Q2, but wound up last in that segment, after a disappointing run in which he went slower than he did in Q1.
Carlos Sainz Jr was just ahead of him in the first of the Toro Rossos, also unable to improve on his Q1 best.
Felipe Nasr failed to escape Q1 in the heavily revised Sauber by just 0.048s and wound up 17th overall, a tenth ahead of Manor debutant Esteban Ocon.
Daniil Kvyat endured yet another Q1 exit for Toro Rosso, ending up 19th fastest, fractionally ahead of the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.
Reigning world champion Hamilton set the 20th fastest time in the second Mercedes, completing a leisurely run to simply register on the timesheet knowing he will start at the back of the grid.
Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda broke down before he could complete an out-lap in qualifying, so he failed to set a time.
Honda found what it described as a "data anomaly" with Alonso’s engine after the final practice session, but elected to send him out without making an engine change.
PROVISIONAL STARTING GRID:
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m46.893s||0.149s|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m47.216s||0.472s|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m47.407s||0.663s|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m47.543s||0.799s|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m49.038s||–|
|19||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m49.058s||–|
Belgian GP: Kimi Raikkonen fastest for Ferrari in final practice
Kimi Raikkonen set the pace in final Belgian Grand Prix Formula 1 practice as Lewis Hamilton focused on race simulation work given he will serve a 55-place grid penalty.
Raikkonen clocked a 1m47.974s for Ferrari on the super-softs late in the session to finish 0.215 seconds quicker than long-time pacesetter Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, with Sebastian Vettel a tenth further back.
After going fastest on Friday, Max Verstappen encountered gearbox problems and sat out most of third practice in the pits, failing to get a lap time on the board.
Mercedes fitted Hamilton’s car with a new engine for each of this weekend’s practice sessions, which has led to substantial penalties but allowed him to build up a pool of systems to use for the rest of 2016.
With the championship leader set to start from the back of the field, or potentially the pitlane, Hamilton chose to work on longer runs on the medium and then the soft for most of the morning.
The Briton then bolted on a set of the super-softs in the closing minutes and though he set the fastest first sector, he locked up into the final chicane and ended up fifth.
That was a tenth quicker than team-mate Nico Rosberg, who finished seventh after he failed to improve on his soft time after taking the super-softs.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth quickest, half a second off the pace, with Nico Hulkenberg sixth and Felipe Massa eighth and Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean completing the top 10.
Stewards are investigating two incidents from the session.
Pascal Wehrlein was furious with Esteban Gutierrez after the Manor driver had to take to the grass at the top of Eau Rouge and Raidillon to avoid the slower Haas.
Kevin Magnussen prompted anger from Vettel when he felt he was hampered by the slower Renault, saying on the radio: "What an idiot. Did you see that? It’s free practice. It’s called free practice, who gives a shit?"
Vettel was outpaced by team-mate Raikkonen through the hour, with the Finn pipping him by 0.096s as they set the early pace before Ricciardo went quicker. Then when they came back out for the final super-soft runs, Vettel did not improve while Raikkonen produced the lap that earned the top spot.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button did very little running, with the former not completing his first timed lap until the second half of the session. They finished 11th and 13th respectively.
Sauber also encountered what it described as "minor problems" with Marcus Ericsson’s car but the team managed to get the Swede out in time to complete a handful of laps.
PRACTICE THREE TIMES
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m48.189s||0.215s||18|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m48.739s||0.765s||12|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m48.915s||0.941s||12|
|16||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m50.023s||2.049s||9|
|17||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m50.078s||2.104s||9|
|–||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||–||–||2|
Belgian GP practice not much fun for Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen described Ferrari’s first day of Formula 1 practice ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix as "not a lot of fun" after both cars struggled at Spa.
Ferrari ended the day fourth and seventh with Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen respectively, and while neither driver got a particularly clean qualifying simulation run in the afternoon session, both accepted there is a lot of work to do.
"I started OK in the afternoon, but I was struggling badly with the super-softs," Raikkonen told reporters after the session.
"Then on the long runs, it was a big struggle.
"It was one of those days. It was not an awful not of fun, in the end the feeling wasn’t correct."
Vettel believes the high temperatures at Spa are making finding a good balance difficult for everyone.
"It was tricky today, it was very slippery – very hot," he said.
"I don’t think it matters what tyres you have, it’s slippery for everyone.
"We have to improve our car, it’s not where we want to be.
"I’m not entirely happy, I’m struggling a bit with the balance of the car, and also Kimi didn’t get a clean run.
"It didn’t feel great out there but that’s up to us to work on and improve the car."
Vettel experienced a few run-ins with other drivers during the afternoon session as he came across slower cars, but he accepted that even he needed to be mindful of traffic during a busy session.
The German blamed a Force India for the first of two offs at Les Combes, and he was frustrated by Carlos Sainz Jr at La Source after he had tried to keep out of the Toro Rosso’s way at the end of the previous lap.
"It’s traffic – sometimes people, including myself, could do better," he added.
"Everyone was struggling to make the tyres last – at least the cars I saw were, which is a bit of a shame but it’s the same for everyone.
"I don’t think everyone had clear runs today, so the competitiveness is difficult to judge."
Belgian GP: Max Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two in practice
Max Verstappen spearheaded a Red Bull one-two at the end of second practice for the Belgian Grand Prix as Formula 1 returned from its summer break.
It appeared to be a case of normal service in the Mercedes-led first practice at Spa-Francorchamps.
But come the second session, and following an early blast on the super-soft tyres, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton embarked on differing run plans, leaving the Red Bull team-mates to take over at the top of the timesheet.
For only the second time in the last 17 practice sessions a Mercedes driver was not out in front as Verstappen posted a lap of 1m48.085s to finish a quarter of a second up on Daniel Ricciardo, and 0.263s ahead of Rosberg’s best from the morning.
Verstappen later complained on a couple of occasions about a loss of power, with the team unable to find a fix.
Rosberg, who trails Hamilton in the championship standings by 19 points, predominantly used the soft tyre in second practice and finished down in sixth place, just over a second behind Verstappen.
Hamilton began the session with a second fresh power unit for this weekend and so far faces a 30-place grid penalty as he builds up a pool of systems to see him through the season.
The three-time champion, who will start the race at the back of the field, embarked on a long run on the medium tyres after an early soft stint that had netted him 13th place, 1.697s off the pace.
Behind the frontrunning Red Bulls, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was third best, almost six tenths of a second down, followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with the four-time champion 0.938s adrift.
Vettel endured a scruffy session early on, encountering backmarkers to whom he either gesticulated or made comment over the radio, even when they did not appear to be at fault.
Force India continued to fare well, with Sergio Perez fifth fastest, narrowly ahead of Rosberg, and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in close attendance in seventh.
The Haas pair of Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez enjoyed a strong run, finishing eighth and 10th, sandwiching McLaren’s Jenson Button.
Grosjean and Button ended with identical times of 1m49.419s, but with the Frenchman ahead in the standings as his lap was posted first.
Fernando Alonso was at least in the action after managing just three installation laps in practice one due to a water leak from his new Honda engine.
Fitting a new system in the break meant taking the sixth element of each of the six power unit components, so Alonso will join Hamilton on the back row as he faces a 35-place grid penalty.
Alonso totalled 30 laps in the second session, and was 12th quickest behind the Manor of Pascal Wehrlein, whose new team-mate in Esteban Ocon was nine tenths of a second down in 21st.
One place ahead of Ocon was Renault’s Jolyon Palmer. His session appeared to be over early on when he ground to a halt, but he was able to restart the car via the MGU-K.
PRACTICE TWO TIMES:
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m48.085s||–||27|
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m48.341s||0.256s||27|
|3||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m48.657s||0.572s||30|
|5||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m49.100s||1.015s||27|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m49.916s||1.831s||25|
|18||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m50.194s||2.109s||25|
Belgian GP: Mercedes’ Rosberg fastest in FP1 with halo fitted
Nico Rosberg set the pace in first practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, with Formula 1’s halo cockpit protection device fitted.
The Mercedes driver clocked a 1m48.348s on the super-soft tyres while evaluating the halo, to finish 0.730s clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who was on the same tyres.
Reigning world champion Hamilton was running a fresh power unit, which featured the use of a sixth MGU-H and turbo that currently results in a 15-place grid penalty at Spa.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, on the soft rubber, was Mercedes’s closest rival, 0.799s off the pace with Sergio Perez just over a tenth further back for Force India.
Three teams – Mercedes, Force India and Toro Rosso – ran the halo for the first time when they bolted the device onto Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr’s cars respectively.
Red Bull fitted it for the second time, after Pierre Gasly tested it in the Silverstone test, with Daniel Ricciardo carrying out the testing duties and completing a single installation lap with the device.
Rosberg kept the halo on for two runs before removing it and switching his attention to the team’s weekend programme.
Sebastian Vettel was fifth, 1.420s slower than Rosberg, ahead of Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Hulkenberg.
Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez completed the top 10.
Sauber appeared to have made a step forward with its new aero package, which features a new front wing, short nose, floor and front and rear brake ducts, with Marcus Ericsson 13th.
However, the Swede has taken a sixth turbocharger and will therefore take a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
Esteban Ocon outpaced team-mate Pascal Wehrlein by nearly a second on his Manor debut as he finished 16th quickest.
It was a disappointing morning for McLaren with Jenson Button 18th and Fernando Alonso failing to set a timed lap.
Alonso’s session ended early when Honda discovered a water leak on what was a new, upgraded power unit.
The Japanese manufacturer decided to swap out the whole unit to carry out an investigation into the problem, which it does not believe is a consequence of the update but rather an issue with a single part.
Several teams also tested a prototype tyre for Pirelli during the 90-minute session.
F1’s tyre supplier has developed a new construction it says is more resistant to impacts from kerbs and has given teams four sets of the rubber to try across FP1 and FP2.
FIRST PRACTICE RESULTS:
|4||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m49.274s||0.926s||23|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m49.782s||1.434s||24|
|7||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m49.865s||1.517s||24|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m50.088s||1.740s||21|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m51.424s||3.076s||17|
|17||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m52.308s||3.960s||19|
German GP: Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton to earn home F1 pole
Nico Rosberg claimed his fifth pole position of the 2016 Formula 1 season at the German Grand Prix.
Having been outpaced by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the first two segments of qualifying, Rosberg was on the back foot after the first runs in Q3 having had to abort his lap because of an "electronic issue".
Hamilton meanwhile went quickest by six tenths of a second among those who completed an early run.
Rosberg headed out early for his second run on super-softs, presumably to give him the option of a second lap if required, and took top spot by just over a tenth of a second.
Hamilton then set off for his final run, but after being just over a tenth of a second faster than Rosberg in the first sector, locked up at the Turn 6 hairpin and fell short.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo beat team-mate Max Verstappen to fourth, 0.363s off Rosberg’s pace.
Ferrari locked out the third row, with Kimi Raikkonen outpacing Sebastian Vettel by almost two tenths to win the intra-team battle.
Force India and Williams had a very close battle for the final four places in the top 10, with the four cars covered by just 0.105s.
Nico Hulkenberg won the battle ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Sergio Perez ninth ahead of Felipe Massa.
Esteban Gutierrez was the fastest driver in Q2 to be eliminated, ending up 11th on the grid, after briefly breaking into the top 10 with his final run before being eliminated by Massa’s late improvement.
McLaren driver Jenson Button was 12th ahead of Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr, who is under investigation for impeding Massa at Turn 2.
Fernando Alonso was 14th after running wide over a kerb and shedding some small parts of his front wing in the stadium section – although he also complained about being held up by Vettel’s slow Ferrari.
Romain Grosjean, who lost most of Saturday morning practice to a gearbox problem that will lead to a five-place penalty, was 15th ahead of Renault driver Jolyon Palmer, the Briton making his first Q2 appearance since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March.
Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was the surprise driver to be eliminated in Q1 thanks to late improvements from the Renault drivers and Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein.
Palmer’s final lap put him into Q2, with Kevin Magnussen taking 17th place with a lap less than a tenth slower than his team-mate.
Despite not believing he could have gone any quicker after his second run, Wehrlein used a third set of super-softs to take 18th with what he described as a "great" lap ahead of the baffled Kvyat.
Sauber pairing Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson locked out the back row, with the former just over a tenth faster than his team-mate.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m14.726s||0.363s|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m14.834s||0.471s|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m15.510s||1.147s|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m15.537s||1.174s|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m15.989s||–|
|18||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m16.876s||–|
F1 German GP: Mercedes’ Rosberg stays on top in FP3, rivals closer
Nico Rosberg maintained his Formula 1 free practice supremacy ahead of the German Grand Prix by setting the pace on Saturday morning.
But the Mercedes driver’s advantage over team-mate Lewis Hamilton was vastly reduced, with the gap between the pair just 0.057 seconds, setting the stage for a close battle in qualifying.
Both Mercedes drivers set their best times relatively early in the session on their first set of super-soft Pirellis, with first Rosberg going fastest on a 1m16.134s.
Hamilton then posted a 1m16.015s followed by a lap of 1m15.795s only for Rosberg to bang in the fastest lap of the session – a 1m15.738s.
That decided the top two, with neither attempting further quick runs later in the session and focusing on other preparation work.
The only problematic moment for Mercedes was when an investigation was triggered into Hamilton being released into the path of Haas driver Romain Grosjean in the pits.
Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest after not running on the super-softs until late in the session.
He lapped just 99 thousandths slower than Rosberg, setting the fastest time of all in the long middle sector, to secure the position of best of the rest.
The two Ferrari drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, ended up fourth and fifth ahead of Max Verstappen.
At the end of the session, Vettel returned to the pits complaining of possible floor damage most likely as a result of hitting a kerb badly, with the right side of his front wing flapping.
Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa held first and second 15 minutes into the session, but were inevitably shuffled down to seventh and eighth by the end.
This was a big step forward from Friday’s single-lap pace relative to the opposition, although the car had looked good on race pace.
Fernando Alonso was another driver who did not run on the super-softs until the final 10 minutes, posting the ninth fastest time.
At the same time, Nico Hulkenberg also had his first super-soft run to secure 10th place ahead of Carlos Sainz and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez.
Grosjean had a troubled session, completing only four laps after suffering a gearbox problem moments after spinning onto the grass coming through Turn 3.
Following warnings about track limits being exceeded at Turn 1, only five drivers were noted to have strayed beyond what was allowed – Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Hamilton and Sergio Perez, with all but Verstappen deemed to have gained no advantage.
Perez did, though, damage the front of his Force India, requiring repairs before he jumped up from 19th to 12th in the closing stages.
THIRD PRACTICE TIMES:
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m15.837s||0.099s||13|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.182s||0.444s||23|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m16.972s||1.234s||16|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m17.028s||1.290s||20|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.066s||1.328s||10|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m17.227s||1.489s||19|
“We’re more or less there”
Kimi confident with further overnight improvement
Kimi Raikkonen: “On Friday it’s always difficult to have a clear idea of where you are, from tomorrow we’ll understand more, but the session today was not too bad. For sure there’s some work to be done to improve, but more or less we are about there. Obviously we want to be in the front, so this evening we are going to focus on fixing some things and improve in certain areas, then I’m sure we’ll be ok.”
F1 German GP: Rosberg leads Mercedes team-mate Hamilton in FP2
Nico Rosberg set the pace in second free practice for the German Grand Prix, outpacing Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton by four-tenths of a second.
The home hero had topped the morning session, but initially lagged behind Hamilton on the first runs using the soft Pirelli rubber by four-tenths.
But when the duo then bolted on the super-soft Pirellis, reckoned to be around 1.2 seconds faster than the softs, Rosberg took the upper hand.
First Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg and then Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen hit the top after doing their first super-soft laps, before the two Mercedes drivers.
But Rosberg had his first flier just after the 30-minute mark, setting a time of 1m15.614s to take top spot.
Hamilton then completed his lap, but was slower in all three sectors and ended up 0.394s slower after a slightly ragged effort.
Initially, Red Bull pairing Max Verstappen and Daniel Riccairdo were best of the rest after relegating Raikkonen.
But then Sebastian Vettel, who had a longer break between his runs, finally set his super-soft time just before the 45-minute mark to take second place, six-tenths off Rosberg.
Verstappen and Ricciardo ended up fifth and sixth, with the latter earning criticism from Hamilton late in the session for jinking into the pit exit while passing a slow Manor.
That led to Hamilton moving to the left and complaining over the radio.
Hulkenberg was eventually shuffled down to seventh ahead of Jenson Button, who only completed 16 laps and missed the second half of the session.
Both Button and McLaren-Honda team-mate Fernando Alonso looked to have the potential to go quicker, but ended up slotting into eighth and 10th, sandwiching Force India driver Sergio Perez.
The two Toro Rosso drivers, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat, were separated by just 25 thousandths of a second in 11th and 12th, ahead of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.
Romain Grosjean, who appeared to be battling the same problems under braking as he was in the morning session and had both an off and a spin at the Turn 6 hairpin, was 14th fastest, just ahead of Felipe Massa’s Williams.
But the Franco-Swiss driver only completed 13 laps during the session, spending much of it in the pits presumably chasing the cause of the vibration under braking he complained about over the radio.
During 90 minutes, multiple drivers, including Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso and Perez, were reported for running wide beyond track limits at Turn 1 – early in the session, race control issued a message to teams that this situation was being carefully monitored.
This led to drivers being regularly warned by their teams, albeit with regular infringements continuing, particularly for Perez.
PRACTICE TWO RESULTS:
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.456s||0.842s||40|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.490s||0.876s||38|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m16.781s||1.167s||43|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.148s||1.534s||44|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m17.342s||1.728s||32|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m17.367s||1.753s||38|
F1 German GP: Mercedes’ Rosberg fastest in FP1 on home soil
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg set the pace in first practice for his home Formula 1 grand prix in Germany.
Rosberg’s time of 1m15.517s spearheaded an unsurprisingly dominant one-two for the Silver Arrows, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton 0.326 seconds adrift.
Its nearest challenger in Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was just over a second back in third.
F1 showed just how far it has come since its last visit to Hockenheim in 2014, with 20 of the 22 drivers quicker than Rosberg’s best FP1 time that year.
Rosberg himself was more than three-and—a-half seconds faster than his 1:19.131s lap in that session, when the current turbo hybrid era was only just six months old.
After losing the championship lead he had held all season last weekend in Hungary, Rosberg was quickly on the pace, leading the way early with a 1m17.030s.
With the super-soft tyres then strapped on for the second half of the session, Rosberg was able to improve by almost two seconds, and was never headed.
Reigning champion Hamilton – on a run of five wins from the last six grands prix to take the points lead from Rosberg – was not as smooth as his team-mate throughout a lap, resulting in the three-tenths deficit.
Both drivers were among the many who went off track at Turn 1, which proved particularly problematic to get right as the limits were explored.
Behind the Mercedes duo, Vettel emerged the best of the rest, just over two tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fifth and sixth quickest, separated by 0.162s.
On his 35th birthday, Fernando Alonso emerged seventh fastest in his McLaren, 1.666s down on Rosberg.
Alonso was followed by team-mate Jenson Button, seemingly underlining McLaren’s recently-declared belief it is now the fourth quickest team in F1 behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
With the timesheets following a team-by-team order, Toro Rosso pair Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr rounded out the top 10, with both around 2.5s down.
Further down the field there were practice outings for Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc with Haas and Renault reserve Esteban Ocon.
Leclerc, standing in Esteban Gutierrez, was 17th, just three places and three tenths of a second behind Romain Grosjean.
Ocon, meanwhile, was 19th and only 0.048s behind Kevin Magnussen, with Jolyon Palmer having made way.
PRACTICE ONE RESULTS:
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.927s||1.410s||29|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m17.089s||1.572s||30|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m18.008s||2.491s||25|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m18.044s||2.527s||22|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m18.591s||3.074s||35|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m18.628s||3.111s||29|
Hungarian GP: Nico Rosberg snatches pole after four red flags
Nico Rosberg claimed pole position from Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, after an incident-filled and rain-affected session.
Hamilton held provisional pole after the initial runs in a dry Q3 at the Hungaroring, and looked on course to seal the deal on his second run, but backed out of his lap as Fernando Alonso spun his McLaren at Turn 9 and brought out yellow flags.
Rosberg was running behind Hamilton on the road, and though there was a yellow for Rosberg at Turn 8, Alonso had got going again by the time Rosberg reached Turn 9.
While the first sector of Rosberg’s final flying lap was more then four tenths slower than Hamilton’s, he was fastest of all through the second sector on a rapidly improving track and stole pole from Hamilton by less than two tenths of a second.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo also had to abort his final flyer and wound up third fastest, just 0.172s slower than Hamilton in a session he called "crazy".
Max Verstappen was fourth fastest in the second Red Bull, ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the only Ferrari to make Q3, Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso, Alonso, the second McLaren of Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton was fortunate to even make it through to Q3 after locking up and running wide at Turn 1 on his final Q2 lap.
On a rapidly drying track he tumbled down the order, but remained just inside the top 10 as Romain Grosjean’s Haas, Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso, Sergio Perez’s Force India, Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, the second Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, and Felipe Nasr’s Sauber all missed the cut.
A 20-minute rain delay and four red flags meant Q1 lasted well over an hour.
A second downpour shortly after an already rain delayed start caused the first stoppage, before Marcus Ericsson crashed at Turn 10, Felipe Massa at Turn 4 and finally Rio Haryanto – again at Turn 10 – all which prompted further red flags. Time was finally called with 1m18s remaining on the clock after Haryanto’s incident.
"Aww f***ing hell, that’s really poor!" bemoaned Jolyon Palmer on team radio, as he became the chief loser of the track position lottery and finished the session 17th quickest, having lapped inside the top 10 in final practice.
Massa ended up 18th, ahead of Kevin Magnussen – who began his final run on wets and aborted to switch to intermediates just before the final stoppage – Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Haryanto.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m20.280s||0.315s|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m20.557s||0.592s|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m21.131s||1.166s|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m21.823s||1.858s|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m25.301s||–|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m25.416s||–|
Hungarian GP: Nico Rosberg fends off Max Verstappen in practice
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg edged out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by just 0.002 seconds in final practice for Formula 1’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Championship leader Rosberg clocked a 1m20.261s on the super-soft tyres for his qualifying-simulation but did make a mistake in the final corner.
Verstappen had been edging nearer to the top throughout the session, and came very close to deposing Rosberg with his last run.
It was an impressive performance from Red Bull with Daniel Ricciardo third, 0.465s off the pace.
Lewis Hamilton ran wide on his first attempt at a qualifying simulation, which left him 0.508s off the pace.
He bolted on another set of super-softs, but ran wildly off road at Turn 4 and backed off, settling for fourth after running out of time for another lap.
Rosberg led the session from his first run onwards, setting the early pace with a 1m20.811s and then improving to a 1m20.547s later in the run, moving nearly half a second clear of Ricciardo at the time.
Hamilton, meanwhile, focused on gathering long-run data after he did not get a chance to do so in practice two following his crash.
Several drivers were adjudged to have abused track limits over the course of the session. The FIA will take a "zero tolerance" approach in qualifying and delete any laps that feature infringements.
Kimi Raikkonen was the leading Ferrari driver in fifth, 0.598s off the pace, and three tenths clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel in sixth.
Fernando Alonso was seventh as Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez and Jolyon Palmer, who had a much more productive session following his loss of track time on Friday, closed out the top 10.
Williams ran a new floor, of which it only has one in Hungary, on Bottas’s car to evaluate whether it is worth using it for the remainder of the weekend.
Bottas and team-mate Massa, who was 11th, did back-to-back tests with two front wing configurations to check on balance.
Toro Rosso continued to struggle with Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat 16th and 18th respectively.
The Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson outpaced the Manors of Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto to finish 19th and 20th.
PRACTICE THREE TIMES
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m20.263s||0.002s||10|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m20.726s||0.465s||22|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m21.672s||1.411s||22|
|16||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m22.402s||2.141s||21|
|17||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m22.427s||2.166s||22|
|18||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m22.541s||2.280s||18|