Sebastian Vettel takes pole position at Hungarian GP as Kimi Raikkonen claims second in a Ferrari front row

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Sebastian Vettel (C), Kimi Raikkonen (R) and Valtteri Bottas (L).

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel grabbed pole position for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix as Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid in a tense, dramatic and record-breaking qualifying session on Saturday.

The 30-year-old four-time champion clocked a best lap of one minute 16.276 seconds to secure his third pole at the Hungaroring circuit and the 48th of his career.

His success gives him a perfect opportunity to make the most of the prime starting position and increase his one point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the standings.

“Yes, yes, grazie tuti (thanks everyone),” screamed german Vettel on his slowdown lap. “The car has been incredible today and I love this track. Front row for us is incredible.

“We’re working hard. It is just great. Obviously, the last race wasn’t great for us, but we are here now and I am happy where we are as a team.”

His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest and will start alongside Vettel at the front of the grid ahead of the two Mercedes led by Valtteri Bottas, who was third, and three-time champion Briton Hamilton.

Hamilton said he was not surprised by Ferrari’s overnight leap in performance.

“They were always going to be quick here and I was reasonably satisfied with our performance. I thought we did quite well, except in Q3, for me,” he said. “But you can’t overtake here and it will be a train unless we can do something on the strategy.”

Dutchman Max Verstappen was fifth for Red Bull ahead of his Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with German Nico Hulkenberg seventh for Renault and two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso eighth for McLaren-Honda on his 36th birthday.

TOUGH RETURN

On a hot day at the Hungaroring, with an air temperature of 28 degrees and a track temperature of 57, the session began with a fiercely-competitive opening section in which Briton Paul di Resta, Williams’s reserve driver, made his first appearance at a Grand Prix since 2013 as replacement for the unwell Brazilian Felipe Massa.

It was a tough return for the Scot and, despite a valiant effort, he was eliminated in 19th place along with Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas, his Williams team-mate Lance Stroll and the two Saubers of German Pascal Wahrlein and Swede Marcus Ericsson.

Vettel topped the times, but the chasing pack, led by Verstappen, were closer at that stage than in the final practice, with Raikkonen third ahead of Hamilton.

Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas were the first out for Q2, the Englishman reporting “there’s a bit of vibration on these tyres” as he rejoined the fray in pursuit of a place in the top 10 shootout.

The German maintained his narrow advantage after the first flying runs ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton, who then responded with a new track record lap of 1:16.693 to go top as Vettel, Verstappen and Raikkonen stayed in the pits.

In a final flurry of Q2 action, Spaniard Carlos Sainz squeezed through in 10th for Toro Rosso, pushing Briton Jolyon Palmer of Renault out of the final session.

On the opening Q3 laps, Hamilton went off at Turn Four and chose to abort the lap, pulling into the pits. Bottas clocked 1:16.631 and then Vettel raised the record bar again to 1:16.276.

Surprisingly, given his earlier grumbles about the tyres and his ‘off’ in Q2, Hamilton was soon out for his final run.

“Big vibration on these tyres,” he said, again, as he launched his first flying lap.

But it was in vain as Vettel took pole from Raikkonen, who produced a scorching final lap to snatch second from his Finnish compatriot Bottas.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Lewis Hamilton’s London no-show helped him become the main act at Silverstone

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It is 10 years ago since Lewis Hamilton lined up for his first British Grand Prix, a handful of races into his Formula 1 career and already the blistering boy wonder of the sport.

A decade on and his career has undulated from the great highs of three world championships to the fallow years of frustration languishing for a time in the middle of the pack and, occasionally, towards the back of the grid.

In that intervening time, there has been all manner of criticism, be it the outbursts in the earlier years to his chosen lifestyle outside the confines of his Mercedes car, with a seeming penchant to mix with rappers and Hollywood A-listers.

It was such life choices that saw him arrive at Silverstone for an 11th British Grand Prix weekend very much in the firing line.

Hamilton had opted against appearing at F1 Live London, the first time in the history of the championship that all the teams had gathered with their respective machinery at an event outside of a grand prix weekend.

That he was the sole no show was met with scorn by his public scrutineers, who suggested the star British driver owed it to his home crowd to show his face and put the Merc through its paces in England’s capital however briefly.

But instead Hamilton opted for a short break in Greece, an escape from the rat race of F1 and a chance he said to recharge his batteries and best prepare him for the weekend ahead where he would be the marked man by fans, fellow drivers and the media as a whole.

Two day holiday before the greatest race weekend of the year!! #blessed #greatful #GodIsTheGreatest

A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on

His no show was met by boos on London’s streets – more for those of a pantomime villain it has to be said rather than a great British public baying for his blood.

But what his controversial decision meant was that he thoroughly had to back that up with a resounding weekend of dominance, and how he did that.

His lap to pole drew parallels to his idol and fellow three-time world champion Ayrton Senna such was his level above everyone else.

And come the race he was in a league of his own for a record fifth British Grand Prix win, so clear was he that the cameras barely showed him, instead focusing on the battles and chaos that ensued behind him.

At the time of his London disappearing act, it seemed right to criticise. After all, here was a driver that takes more stock perhaps than others on his fanbase or the ‘HamFam’ as he has been known to refer to it on social media.

Not for the first time, he was taken aback by the level of animosity that went his way as a result of going for his decision to go AWOL in such a pivotal week.

But Hamilton made the point that, while he loved his fans, his overriding focus was on winning the British Grand Prix and putting himself in the best possible position to claw back the deficit to main title rival Sebastian Vettel. Such was the impact on his on-track activities, it was a case of Greece lightning for Mercedes’ star man.

And what of the British public? Any boos there might have been in London – admittedly much of that coming from a new wave of fans than the usual Silverstone throngs – had dissipated.

The crowd lapped up his every move – as they have done for a good decade – and he delivered the only thing that mattered, yet another British winner.

Hamilton celebrated with the crowd post race.

Hamilton celebrated with the crowd post race.

Come the end of the race, F1 Live London was but a footnote, Hamilton once more the man of the moment – the place he craves to be – and well and truly back in the title fight with Vettel having something of a weekend to forget.

Hamilton is far better placed than his critics to know the best path to pursue to prepare himself for a race car, and Mercedes know it too.

It was telling that team boss Toto Wolff backed him to the hilt for his decision over the London event, even though it was a bit of a PR disaster for the team at the time.

They know that a happy Hamilton is a quick Hamilton, which at the end of the day is all that matters.

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Flawless Lewis Hamilton claims fifth British Grand Prix victory as Sebastian Vettel suffers setback

Sport360 staff 16/07/2017

Lewis Hamilton slashed the deficit to Sebastian Vettel at the summit of the Formula One championship after a crushing performance at Silverstone to win the British Grand Prix for a record-equalling fifth time.

Hamilton led every lap to the delight of his home crowd as he moved to within just one point of Vettel in the title race after the Ferrari driver suffered a puncture on the penultimate lap to finish in seventh.

His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was poised to finish second but he also suffered a puncture in the closing moments to promote Valtteri Bottas one spot as Mercedes completed a remarkable one-two finish.

Bottas started ninth but stormed back through the field, including a pass on Vettel with eight laps remaining to the delight of the partisan crowd.

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DRIVER OF THE DAY

A close one between Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, but we give this one to the Australian Ricciardo who had a miserable qualifying session on Saturday and was forced to start at the back of the grid with Fernando Alonso after serving a grid penalty for replacing a turbo unit.

The Aussie drove an admirable race to climb to a fifth position after starting 19th on the grid with innumerable overtakes.

FASTEST LAP

Lewis Hamilton had a flawless afternoon leading the British Grand Prix from start to finish after taking pole on Saturday.

The British driver was in full flow during the entire weekend at Silverstone and he set the fastest lap of the day during lap 48 setting a scorching time of 1:30.621 .

Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing set the second fastest time during lap 51 with a timing of 1:30.678.

Hamilton set the fasted lap on route to the chequered flag.

Hamilton set the fasted lap on route to the chequered flag.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was the biggest loser of the day after suffering a puncture in the penultimate lap of the race while running in fourth place forcing him to enter the pits. This cost Vettel three places with the German ultimately finishing seventh.

The puncture coupled with Hamilton’s record equalling fifth British Grand Prix win means that Vettel’s lead in the championship has been cut to just a solitary point.

Sebastian Vettel heads for the pits after suffering a puncture.

Sebastian Vettel heads for the pits after suffering a puncture.

ONE TO WATCH

Force India’s Esteban Ocon finished ahead of experienced team-mate Sergio Perez in eighth position.

The Frenchman has had a stellar year so far in only his first complete season in Formula 1. He has racked up many points finishes this season and the fact that he beat Perez despite starting just behind the Mexican in seventh place will give the young man a lot of satisfaction.

Esteban Ocon's stock continues to rise.

Esteban Ocon’s stock continues to rise.

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