July 27th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - "We're as surprised as you, mate" was what Lewis Hamilton's race engineer said to him on the radio after Hamilton set the fastest time in qualifying for tomorrow's Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton was just 0.038 seconds clear of championship leader Sebastian Vettel. Romain Grosjean will start third for Lotus.
Q1 saw the bottom two teams eliminated as usual. They were joined by the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and a very frustrated Paul Di Resta in his Force India. Di Resta struggled for grip and could be seen fighting his Force India in every corner of the lap.
Mark Webber suffered a KERS failure during Q2, which cost him some pace. It's been a recurring issue for Red Bull over the last couple of seasons, particularly on Webber's car. Although he made it through to Q3, Webber did not set a time in the final part of qualifying, presumably due to the technical issues on his car.
Both Ferrari drivers looked like they were struggling with understeer in Q2, but both managed to make it into Q3. The drivers eliminated in Q2 were Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button, Jean-Eric Vergne, Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas. Although they are starting 15th and 16th, Williams will be pleased to have both cars in Q2 after struggling to achieve that in previous races. Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil are in a strong position to challenge for much-needed points for their respective teams.
Sebastian Vettel managed to get through Q1 and Q2 on just one set of soft tyres, which meant he had two sets available for Q3, while most of his rivals completed their first run in Q3 on scrubbed tyres before pitting for a new set and going for pole. Vettel's initial time on fresh tyres was a full eight tenths quicker than any of the drivers on scrubbed tyres, and at that point it seemed impossible that he would be beaten to pole position. But Lewis Hamilton had other ideas, and surged across the line right at the end of the session to take pole by a whisker from the championship leader. Romain Grosjean completed an impressive Saturday by qualifying third after topping FP3 this morning.
Nico Rosberg could not quite find the same pace as Hamilton in the Mercedes, and qualified fourth, a third of a second down on his team-mate. Fernando Alonso was fifth for Ferrari ahead of the second Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, who was followed by Felipe Massa in the other Ferrari. Daniel Ricciardo will start eighth ahead of the McLaren of Sergio Perez, who opted to set a time on medium tyres in order to run a different race strategy to those around him. Mark Webber completes the top ten after failing to set a lap time in Q3 after a KERS failure left him stuck in the Red Bull garage.
Full qualifying results:
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:20.646||1:19.992||1:19.426||12|
|10||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:21.264||1:20.503||No time||13|
|11||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:21.471||1:20.569||17|
|18||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:22.043||11|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:23.333||7|
|Q1 107% Time||1:25.974|