VETTEL ON POLE AT HUNGARORING
Budapest, Hungary - 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 teammate 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 threetime 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.
Dutchman Max Verstappen was fifth for Red Bull ahead of his Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo, with German Nico Hulkenberg seventh for Renault and two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso eighth for McLaren-Honda on his 36th birthday.
On a hot day at the Hungaroring, with an air temperature of 28°C and a track temperature of 57°C, 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 teammate 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 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 tenth 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 and take pole from Raikkonen.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel races during the qualifying session at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest on Saturday
L-R: Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen wave to crowd after the qualifying session on Saturday