Hamilton has pole but Verstappen’s strongest threat may be behind him · RaceFans

After taking his first pole place in virtually 600 days, Lewis Hamilton was fast to precise his heartfelt gratitude to the Mercedes group personnel who’ve laboured over the past yr and a half to get again on phrases with Pink Bull.

However there was one different individual Hamilton ought to have been grateful for: The one who decided the place the official timing line would sit on the pit straight.

Whereas the Mercedes driver solely simply snatched pole from beneath Max Verstappen nostril by simply three-thousandths of a second, it ought to have been by extra. Hamilton was 0.15s up on the Pink Bull’s provisional pole time heading into the ultimate nook of the lap, however Verstappen’s exit from it as a lot better than the Mercedes driver, inflicting him to achieve time all the best way till he ran out of highway with the delta at simply 0.003 seconds. In the long run, Hamilton’s pole place margin was simply 17 centimetres on a 4.3-kilometre lap.

That exceptional statistic mirrored simply how shut the qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix had been. Statistically, it was comfortably the closest Q3 of the season up to now by way of the margin between first and tenth and one of many closest ever for the reason that three-stage knockout format was first launched in 2006.

Gallery: 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures

Not for the primary, second, and even third time since his final pole place in 2021, Hamilton had bemoaned the efficiency of his Mercedes after Friday apply solely to be proper within the thick of issues in qualifying. “We positively weren’t anticipating to be combating for pole as we speak,” he insisted after qualifying. “We made some actually nice modifications to the automotive, naturally, final evening, and it put us in a a lot better window. So I used to be then in a position to simply construct on that.”

Hamilton not solely ended his pole drought, he broke Verstappen’s five-race pole streak within the course of. However despite the fact that the runaway championship chief had missed out on the highest spot of the grid by one of many slimmest margins in historical past, he was deeply dissatisfied about his automotive’s dealing with.

“Each time I bought to the apex of the nook, it was simply not gripping up for me. And that’s probably the worst balance I can have in a car,” Verstappen defined.

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Verstappen could also be disgruntled by having missed out on the shortest run to the primary nook for the grand prix, however Sundays have been a really totally different prospect to Saturdays all season lengthy up to now in 2023. The RB19 is a wonderful qualifying automotive however it’s an distinctive race automotive, holding an unblemished document of ten victories from ten makes an attempt.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2023
Hamilton delivered Mercedes’ first pole place of 2023

However that perfection could also be below its biggest peril but on the Hungaroring – not simply due to Hamilton forward however from the 2 vibrant orange blobs that may fill his mirrors on the grid. Towards many expectations, McLaren seem to have confirmed that their exceptional tempo from Silverstone was greater than only a one-off. The Hungaroring might hardly be extra totally different from Silverstone, but Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri had been each nearer to Verstappen in Q3 than that they had been in Nice Britain.

“To be solely eight hundredths off pole place, I believe we’re fairly pleased with that,” Norris mentioned. “Just a little bit stunned, however on the similar time I believe it’s an excellent shock.”

Heading into the race, Verstappen might have extra cause to be cautious of the McLarens behind than Hamilton forward. The Various Tyre Allocation might have led to some groups treating their units sparingly over the three apply periods however it additionally appeared to encourage longer runs in second Friday apply.

Evaluating the lengthy runs of the highest 4 starters, Norris and Piastri averaged sooner lap instances on the medium compound (1’23.6) than Hamilton and his Mercedes group mate George Russell did (1’24.2). Verstappen ran at a sooner tempo than all three of them (1’23.3), however he accomplished his stint on the smooth compound tyre.

What was particularly putting about the long term information was simply how fast a tempo Alfa Romeo had been in a position to run at. Having secured simply their finest qualifying outcomes of the season with fifth for Zhou Guanyu and seventh for Valtteri Bottas, the 2 Alfa Romeos had been sooner on their high-fuel runs on the mediums (1’23.3 common) than both the McLarens or the Mercedes.

Norris was particularly upset in qualifying that he had perhaps not totally extracted the most effective lap attainable out of his automotive and value himself pole place in consequence. “It’s only a troublesome monitor to overhaul,” he defined. “Which might be why I’m a bit extra annoyed that I usually can be.”

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However Norris is likely to be letting his pure pessimism get forward of him on this regard. Final yr’s race noticed over 50 on-track passing strikes accomplished over the 70 laps. Admittedly that quantity was inflated by Verstappen beginning down the order and solely 5 of these 50 had been for positions within the prime 5, however as Norris factors out the Hungaroring isn’t as low-speed a circuit as its status suggests, it’s probably not fairly as troublesome to move round as he maintains.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2023
Norris had good tempo on the medium tyres in apply

Naturally, the most effective alternative for Norris will come initially. He and Hamilton take pleasure in ranging from the left-hand facet of the grid, on the racing line, whereas Verstappen should begin on the soiled facet on the best. Final outing, Norris managed to get the bounce on the Pink Bull on a shorter run to the primary nook than he’ll have tomorrow. However, naturally, all eyes might be on Hamilton and Verstappen initially as they share a entrance row of the grid for the primary time since that fateful race in Abu Dhabi virtually two years in the past.

Requested what he expects to see initially of the race, Mercedes group principal Toto Wolff mentioned he anticipated “good enjoyable” between the 2 fierce rivals.

“None of them actually has one thing to threat or to lose,” Wolff defined. “So they’d be for positive racing one another firstly and it’s nice. Lewis, I’m positive, will give it all the pieces he has to place up a terrific struggle however we additionally want to remain life like.”

Pirelli count on the excessive monitor temperatures will produce a two-stop race. This yr, the three compounds nominated for the Hungaroring are every a step softer than they had been final season, main Pirelli to count on that the smooth C5 compound might be averted by groups because of its lack of sturdiness. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc can at the very least relaxation straightforward that his group’s ill-fated technique which dropped him from the result in ending in sixth will probably not be repeatable this time round.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, Hungaroring, 2023
Zhou was the shock of qualifying

Beginning on the mediums and pitting twice for hards appears probably the most standard strategy – which might be attention-grabbing given how everybody on the entrance of the sphere has subsequent to no working on the onerous C3 tyre. Nonetheless, because the C3 was final yr’s medium compound at this circuit, it’s notable that Verstappen, Hamilton and two different drivers all took the mediums over a distance of 32 laps through the race, which suggests a one-stop technique could also be a little bit too far to push for.

Both method, all of the components seem like current for an interesting flat-out battle for victory on Sunday. And with the added intrigue of Russell down in 18th, Carlos Sainz Jnr out of place in eleventh and Daniel Ricciardo making his first begin for the reason that finish of final season, there might be lots to look out for all through the sphere through the Hungarian Grand Prix – one which pole winner Hamilton is daring to dream might give him an extended wanted subsequent victory.

“If there’s a strategy to maintain place, then perhaps there’s a combating probability for us,” he mentioned. “However simply even being up there within the prime three. It’s new. We’re going to have a terrific race, for positive.”

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Qualifying instances in full

Place Quantity Driver Workforce Q1 time Q2 time (vs Q1) Q3 time (vs Q2)
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’18.577 1’17.427 (-1.150s) 1’16.609 (-0.818s)
2 1 Max Verstappen Pink Bull-Honda RBPT 1’18.318 1’17.547 (-0.771s) 1’16.612 (-0.935s)
3 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’18.697 1’17.328 (-1.369s) 1’16.694 (-0.634s)
4 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1’18.464 1’17.571 (-0.893s) 1’16.905 (-0.666s)
5 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’18.143 1’17.700 (-0.443s) 1’16.971 (-0.729s)
6 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’18.440 1’17.580 (-0.860s) 1’16.992 (-0.588s)
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’18.775 1’17.563 (-1.212s) 1’17.034 (-0.529s)
8 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’18.580 1’17.701 (-0.879s) 1’17.035 (-0.666s)
9 11 Sergio Perez Pink Bull-Honda RBPT 1’18.360 1’17.675 (-0.685s) 1’17.045 (-0.630s)
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1’18.695 1’17.652 (-1.043s) 1’17.186 (-0.466s)
11 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’18.393 1’17.703 (-0.690s) Missed by 0.002s
12 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’18.854 1’17.841 (-1.013s) Missed by 0.140s
13 3 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1’18.906 1’18.002 (-0.904s) Missed by 0.301s
14 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’18.782 1’18.144 (-0.638s) Missed by 0.443s
15 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1’18.743 1’18.217 (-0.526s) Missed by 0.516s
16 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes 1’18.917 Missed by 0.011s
17 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1’18.919 Missed by 0.013s
18 63 George Russell Mercedes 1’19.027 Missed by 0.121s
19 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’19.206 Missed by 0.300s
20 2 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1’19.248 Missed by 0.342s

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Sector instances

Place Quantity Driver Sector one Sector two Sector three Final lap Deficit to final lap
1 1 Max Verstappen 27.782 (1) 27.044 (2) 21.547 (1) 1’16.373 0.239
2 44 Lewis Hamilton 27.817 (2) 27.124 (4) 21.629 (2) 1’16.570 0.039
3 4 Lando Norris 27.878 (5) 27.123 (3) 21.693 (3) 1’16.694
4 81 Oscar Piastri 27.909 (6) 27.033 (1) 21.818 (9) 1’16.760 0.145
5 14 Fernando Alonso 27.921 (7) 27.279 (7) 21.733 (5) 1’16.933 0.102
6 16 Charles Leclerc 27.863 (4) 27.278 (6) 21.814 (8) 1’16.955 0.037
7 11 Sergio Perez 27.947 (9) 27.289 (8) 21.728 (4) 1’16.964 0.081
8 24 Zhou Guanyu 27.858 (3) 27.276 (5) 21.837 (10) 1’16.971
9 77 Valtteri Bottas 27.929 (8) 27.305 (9) 21.762 (7) 1’16.996 0.038
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg 27.947 (9) 27.455 (10) 21.753 (6) 1’17.155 0.031
11 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr 28.084 (12) 27.697 (12) 21.922 (12) 1’17.703
12 31 Esteban Ocon 28.036 (11) 27.72 (13) 22.021 (14) 1’17.777 0.064
13 18 Lance Stroll 28.293 (15) 27.618 (11) 21.899 (11) 1’17.810 0.334
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo 28.163 (13) 27.861 (15) 21.96 (13) 1’17.984 0.018
15 10 Pierre Gasly 28.176 (14) 27.837 (14) 22.032 (15) 1’18.045 0.172
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda 28.424 (19) 28.186 (19) 22.176 (16) 1’18.786 0.133
17 63 George Russell 28.483 (20) 28.088 (17) 22.219 (17) 1’18.790 0.237
18 23 Alexander Albon 28.395 (17) 27.989 (16) 22.408 (19) 1’18.792 0.125
19 2 Logan Sargeant 28.407 (18) 28.141 (18) 22.493 (20) 1’19.041 0.207
20 20 Kevin Magnussen 28.353 (16) 28.488 (20) 22.365 (18) 1’19.206

Pace lure

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Over to you

Do Mercedes or McLaren have any life like hope of containing Max Verstappen? Share your views on the Hungarian Grand Prix within the feedback.

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Revealed : 2023-07-22 22:25:09

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