Nico Rosberg tops qualifying for Hungarian Grand Prix pole.
Rain delayed and red flagged qualifying topped by Nico Rosberg, as the Mercedes driver secures pole for the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix. Rosberg mastered the drying track to edge out Hamilton, but yellow flags for a spinning Alonso cost Lewis the chance to better his benchmark.
The scheduled hour-long session at the Hungaroring was initially delayed by 10-minutes. But only three had passed before the session was delayed again by a further 10-minutes.
Qualifying was delayed as a thunderstorm struck at the circuit, leaving standing water strewn around the 2.7-miles.
When the session initially got underway, the spray was so extreme that the session was red flagged after drivers could muster a single flying lap. And as Q1 went on, drivers found the limits of grip – while some also found the barriers. Making Q1 end one hour 14 minutes after its scheduled start, with the session red flagged four times.
Then as the session boiled on, big names were claimed, McLaren rose high then tilted the balance for pole – with Hamilton hampered by Alonso on his final flying lap. While Rosberg could still push on and snatch pole from his team-mate by a single tenth of a second.
After the 20-minute delay for the rain to ease, the first stage of qualifying began with Massa leading a queue of drivers out of the pits. All the while, the threat of another downpour loomed over the circuit putting pressure on drivers to get a lap in.
Unfortunately for Hamilton and Rosberg, a slow Kvyat running wide at turn 13 backed the Mercedes drivers up. With neither able to post a flying lap time before the first red flag of the session fell.
While they were not able to post a time, however, Force India was holding a one-two on the leaderboard – with Perez leading Hulkenberg by six-hundredths of a second. McLaren too were sitting high with Alonso in third.
As much as they would have liked the session not to re-engage, Q1 restarted once the rain eased quarter of an hour later. With Hamilton, Rosberg and Verstappen this time leading the pack.
Straight away when the flying laps began, Verstappen moved top after lapping the final sector a second faster than Perez despite being two-tenths down at the end of S2.
Both Mercedes drivers, pushing for their first lap times, were struggling. With Hamilton running wide at turn one on his way to seventh fastest. While Rosberg, running wide at T2, moved into sixth before Raikkonen demoted the German.
But before anyone could reply, the red flag was back out with Ericsson in the barrier at turn 10. The Sauber had aquaplaned straight on and hit the wall after sliding through the gravel.
When the session restarted this time, Hamilton was over a second up through the first sector. But a lock-up at turn six sent him straight on as the red flag was out again. This time for Massa, who had pitted for inters and found the wall at turn four after running wide on exit.
Despite the red flag being for a crashing driver on inters, the field (bar Magnussen) took to the track with intermediate tyres for their final runs. Although Renault did pit Magnussen at the end of his first lap.
The decision to send K-Mag out on full wets, though, cost him the chance to set a flyer as red flags waved once more.
Times had tumbled with Alonso initially going top before Hamilton crossed the line to go one second clear. But Haryanto span at turn 10 and hit the advertising board to end Q1 behind red flags.
Red flags proving to be the cost of Haryanto’s team-mate’s session, after Wehrlein crossed the line with a 1:38 good enough for P8 – like Raikkonen. But unlike Raikkonen, Pascal crossed the line after the red flags had fallen.
Palmer too was unable to set a timed lap due to the red flags and was out of the session.
After all the delays to qualifying in the first stage of the session, Q2 got underway following the standard break between stages. With Vettel first to post a time to the board – a 1:34.137, one-second up on the following Bottas.
As more drivers crossed the line, Vettel’s time was pushed further down the order. With Hamilton going top by three-hundredths of a second to Rosberg.
But Ricciardo was flying in his Red Bull. Going top by three-tenths of a second with the fastest middle sector thus far. And with drivers struggling to improve on their second laps, Bottas and Williams gambled on supersofts.
The call may have been on the line of the optimal time, but as soon as he started to set times the call was fine. Flying to the top by one second to Hamilton.
The Williams call kicked off a chain reaction in the pits with other drivers making the change. While after his first run, Bottas too pitted again and when he returned to the track was five seconds off the pace.
Now as the track continued to dry, the chequered flag fell over the Hungaroring.
Times still tumbling, Raikkonen moved fastest by half a second. But Alonso put his McLaren top by 1.6 seconds – and ended the session in fourth place.
As more and more times hit the board, Kimi’s lap was pushed further and further down the order until he was in the drop zone. And, unable to reply, Raikkonen was out of qualifying in 14th.
At the other end of the timesheet, the battle continued, with Hamilton looking to improve. Yet a lock-up at turn one left him hunting survival – to which he answered with the best middle and final sectors to scrape through in 10th place.
After clawing his way into the pole position shoot-out at the death of Q2, Hamilton took provisional pole from Rosberg as the Mercedes drivers lapped in the low 1:20s.
Rosberg’s initial lap itself was rapid in comparison to the previous stages of qualifying. With Nico, and Lewis, lapping two seconds faster than the McLarens of Button and Alonso.
With his second lap, Rosberg moved closer to Hamilton but remained one-tenth off of pole. While Ricciardo pushed hard out of the final corner to end his lap half a second down on Hamilton, after saving himself when running wide.
Vettel too ran wide out of the final corner as he hit a lingering puddle. Ending his first flying lap seven-tenths down on Hamilton and six-tenths down on the improving Ricciardo.
But when the final runs of qualifying came into action, a spinning Alonso in the middle sector hampered the battle for pole. Causing Hamilton to lift off heavily under double-yellow flags with the chequered flag already out.
Unable to improve, Hamilton was left hoping Rosberg could not find any more time either.
But as Rosberg entered the zone that hampered Lewis, the yellows were clear and Nico kept his foot flat to the throttle following a slight lift at first. Setting a purple middle sector on his way to setting the new fastest lap of the day – taking pole away from Hamilton by one-tenth of a second.
|1||Nico Rosberg||Q3: 1’19.965|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||1’21.131|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Q2: 1’24.941|
|17||Jolyon Palmer||Q1: 1’43.965|