After two rain delays, qualifying did kick off in a soggy mess. The new asphalt may have smoothed the Hungaroring out and made for a better dry-weather experience but it wasn’t the quickest at draining the water as there was standing pools and tricky conditions the drivers had to negotiate as Q1 started.
Q1 started with a break in the rain but then another deluge started causing a red flag that stopped the session. The session eventually got started again with the teams scrambling to get their banker laps and hot laps in as it is difficult to know if the track was quicker in the abbreviated first session or after the red flag. It wasn’t long until the session was red flagged again due to a crash my Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
It wasn’t long until another red flag came out for a crash by Williams F1 veteran Felipe Massa rolling the dice and trying to run intermediate tires in conditions that probably weren’t quite ready for that tire choice. Williams have been struggling to find some respite from their string of lackluster performances by gambling a bit but it didn’t pay off.
The session got started again but enough time had passed that the teams did start the final four minutes with intermediates. The US broadcast spent some time discussing the water, standing water and pools and Jeff Gordon’s return to NASCAR at Indy which is fine, it’s a rain delay, but we missed a great opportunity to talk about why drivers take the drying line sometimes and the wet lines on other occasions. How the water impacts brake temperature and tire temps. How hybrid torque in these conditions is adjusted for and how drivers prevent wheel spin etc.
Then….another red flag, the fourth time in Q1, for a crash by Rio Haryanto. With just 1:18 left to play, the session was called and we headed to Q2.
Q2 started with teams fitting intermediate tires and the sun threatening to come out and shadows beginning to appear. The track was drying quickly now and it did set minds thinking of when the crossover point would be to fit dry weather tires.
Williams weren’t done rolling the dice as Massa may have been out of qualifying but his teammate was fitted with a set of dry weather tires first and sent out with just seven minutes left in Q2. McLaren called Jenson Button in to fit dry tires and JB said he wasn’t sure as there was still a lot of damp areas on track. Regardless, Bottas went a full second quicker than Lewis Hamilton and took the top spot with 4:25 left in the session. Needless to say, the teams all switched over to the dry tires, most choosing super soft red labeled Pirellis.
As a drying track would dictate, the fast laps were being set by whomever crossed the line when time ran out. Ferrari were left outside looking in with regards to Kimi Raikkonen and had the Finn been on a hot lap when time ran out, he may have displaced Lewis Hamilton who ended the session in the final advancing position of 10th. Both McLaren’s did manage to make it through to Q3.
Q3 started in dry conditions and teams still opting for the red-labeled super soft Pirellis. As the sun beat down on the session, the Mercedes set fastest laps initially and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo had a moment on the final turn taking a lot of curb and nearly losing control but set third best time. As the session wound down, the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel leapt to 5th but not after having a Ricciardo-like moment on the curbs on the last turn.
On the last lap, Max Verstappen didn’t make it across the line to start his final lap before the time ran out and Lewis Hamilton’s lap was scuttled by a brief yellow flag as Alonso spun just ahead of him but by the time his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, made it to the sight of Alonso’s spin, the yellows had been removed and Rosberg took pole position.
After hosting 30 grands prix, the winner of only 13 of those races came from poll and it’s a quirk of this track as many consider it very Monaco-esque with 14 turns jammed into 2.7 miles and a notoriously low overtaking circuit. Lewis Hamilton could be the most successful driver at the Hungaroring should he win on Sunday surpassing Michael Schumacher’s 4 wins to have 5 total.
|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||–|