Vet­tel on pole in Fer­rari front row lock­out

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

BU­DAPEST: Fer­rari’s Ger­man driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel (L) and Fer­rari’s Fin­nish driver Kimi Raikko­nen take part in the qual­i­fy­ing at the Hun­garor­ing rac­ing cir­cuit in Bu­dapest yes­ter­day prior to the For­mula One Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix. —AFP

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