Lewis Hamilton stunned by Hungarian GP pole - but admits he needs a miracle to win
Hungary pole-sitter surprises himself by edging out Sebastian Vettel
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 28/07/13 11:31am
Having struggled throughout Friday's practice sessions, and with Vettel laying down a formidable lap time of 1:19.506 at the start of the top-ten shoot-out, the 2008 World Champion stunned both himself and his Mercedes team by edging out his Red Bull rival by less than a tenth of a second in the final throes of a gripping qualifying hour.
It was Hamilton's 30th career pole, and his third in succession, but the Mercedes driver's disbelief was both genuine and stark when told over his car-to-pits radio that he had defeated the seemingly-impregnable Vettel. "Is that on pole?" queried Hamilton. "We're as surprised as you," came the response.
Sunday is likely to deliver a rather different tale, with Vettel the overwhelming favourite to prevail ahead of the Lotuses of Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, but Saturday was very much Hamilton's day as the Englishman delivered a stunning reminder of his incredible speed.
"I was really surprised when I came across the line and they told me I had pole, I was expecting it to be Sebastian," admitted Hamilton. "It didn't even feel that [it had been that] great a lap."
On-board footage told a different story, however, as Hamilton wrung every ounce of speed out of his W04. Team-mate Nico Rosberg, by telling contrast, will start the race from fourth.
Yet for all the justified acclaim Hamilton's astonishing lap will receive, nobody should be carried away into predicting a victory for Hamilton on Sunday. Time and time again this season, Mercedes have been unable to translate their one-lap form into race pace, and with track temperatures expected to exceed forty degrees on Sunday, their struggles at the Hungaroring are expected to be even more pronounced than normal. Another long race awaits.
"It is going to be tough tomorrow. Our long runs [on Friday] didn't feel like a disaster, but it definitely wasn't as good as the guys sitting next to me," acknowledged Hamilton in reference to Red Bull and Lotus's speed.
"I was just saying to Sebastian, we've obviously got a good car and good pace, so it's just a shame about the tyre issues else we would be able to compete in the race. We'll do the best we can and try to hold on to Sebastian for as long as we can.
"We've got a steep hill to climb with these tyres and if we did win it would be a miracle. I still feel the win is a while off."