Max Verstappen claimed his first ever pole position with a new track record time at the Hungarian Grand Prix, while the result also highlighted the continued performance gains from the collaboration between Red Bull Racing and Honda.
Honda surprised many with their pre-event talk that their power unit had grown to the point that they were now on par with Mercedes. Verstappen was equally frank when he downplayed Lewis Hamilton’s run of World Championship titles with the Silver Arrows.
Arguably, both Honda and Verstappen placed themselves in the situation where they had to match their words with results, which they did in style.
Verstappen set an imposing time to head the time sheet with his Q3 first lap and then set a new track record on his second run to put pole position beyond reach. Valtteri Bottas was 0.018 behind in second while Lewis Hamilton was dropped from the front row by his teammate. Charles Leclerc recovered from a significant impact with the wall in Q1 to claim 4th from Sebastian Vettel. Pierre Gasly took 6th in the second Red Bull, while Lando Norris was the best of the rest, the McLaren driver having edged Carlos Sainz into 7th. Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen completed the top 10.
“Better late than never,” said Max Verstappen’s engineer as the Dutchman secured the first pole position of his career, at his 93rd attempt, with a scintillating performance in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix to become Formula 1’s 100th pole-sitter.
“It has been a great day and the car was hooked up straight away in Qualifying,” Verstappen said. “To come out on top is incredible and my first pole position will always be a special one.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo made a shock Q1 exit after his Renault team had set him out amongst traffic for his final run. Ricciardo tried to drive around the slow line of cars only to compromise both himself and Sergio Perez when the pair ran side by side onto the start finish straight.
“The last run, that’s when you’ve got to do it, and it was just a bit of a… it was a mess, basically, opening the lap,” explained a downcast Ricciardo in the bullpen. “Well, we put ourselves in traffic, and at that point I felt like we could have known what was going to happen better, coming up to the last corner. If I needed to create space earlier, so I wasn’t creating space and in the last corner everyone’s backed up so what do you do? “Do you try and pass them and keep your tyres up to temperature there or do you hang back and start the lap with cold tyres?
“So I tried to go and obviously Perez and the others weren’t going to have that so I felt like Perez and I just screwed each other. Just too late trying to make something happen and the lap was compromised.“Tomorrow’s another day we’ll see what happens but right now, it’s certainly the most upset I’ve been in a while,” he concluded.
While Ricciardo was dejected with his day, George Russell was ecstatic after he delivered Williams’ their best performance of the season with a brilliant 16th, just a fraction away from reaching Q2 for the first time in his career.
“Yeah, it’s unbelievable,” said Russell, who will start 15th on the grid after a penalty for Antonio Giovinazzi. “Almost lost for words. Prior to this weekend I don’t think we could’ve ever dreamed of qualifying off the back row at any point on merit and I think we’ve really turned the page this weekend – understanding the tyres, understanding the car and the thing came alive.”
For all our news keep your eyes peeled on the Velocity Magazine website and social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for our daily updates and to get the latest edition of our glossy magazine subscribe here from just $55 for 12 months subscription.