Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix heading a Ferrari one-two as title rival Lewis Hamilton struggled in fourth. Hamilton, who trails Vettel by one point in the world championship, complained consistently of tyre problems in his Mercedes and had a messy session.
Vettel was 0.254 seconds quicker than the fastest Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen second. Scot Paul di Resta qualified an excellent 19th after being drafted in as a last-minute stand-in for Williams’ Felipe Massa.
Ferrari have not taken a front row lockout in Hungary since 2004 – when victory secured the title for Michael Schumacher.
Mercedes have been struggling for pace all weekend and were a second or so off the Ferraris in final practice. Without his problems, Hamilton may have had the pace to be on the front row, but suspicion is that the long-wheelbase Mercedes is simply not as well suited to the tight and twisty Hungaroring as other, faster tracks.
Mercedes made progress in qualifying, and Hamilton actually set the fastest time in the second part, albeit doing two runs rather than only one like Ferrari.
Hamilton had complained of a tyre vibration on his first run in second qualifying and the same happened on both his runs in the top 10 shoot-out. Hamilton ran wide at the fast, blind, uphill Turn Four on his first run and aborted it, leaving him just one lap to try to beat Vettel’s scintillating initial time of one minute 16.276.
Hamilton again complained of tyre vibrations when he went out for his final run but was only 0.1secs down after the first two sectors, only to lose another 0.3secs in the final sector.
Vettel was on course to beat his time on his second run in Q3 but lost out in the final sector, and was 0.002secs slower. He believed he had over-worked the tyres in the first part of the lap.
Red Bull had looked competitive on Friday and Daniel Ricciardo had hopes of qualifying close to the front. But an engine hydraulics failure early in final practice robbed him of running and he was not happy with the car in qualifying. He qualified sixth, just behind team-mate Max Verstappen.