Hungarian GP: Max Verstappen beats Mercedes for first F1 pole
In-form Dutchman beats Mercedes' drivers to pole position in statement lap; Hamilton behind Bottas in third; Rookies Norris and Russell catch the eye, while Leclerc beats Vettel despite Q1 crash
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 03/08/19 10:58pm
Max Verstappen ended his 93-race wait for a first Formula 1 pole position with a brilliant performance to outpace Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in Hungarian GP qualifying.
Verstappen, F1's form man with two wins in the last three races, pipped Bottas by 0.018s in a tense final lap as Mercedes threw everything they had at the impressive Red Bull, but fell short.
Hamilton ended up third, 0.197s back, and conceded that qualifying "got away from me a little bit".
But Ferrari proved to be a distant threat, with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel left to fight over fourth place. Leclerc pipped Vettel to the position despite earlier damaging his Ferrari in a spin against the barriers in Q1.
"Mercedes and Ferrari need to be alarmed because these guys mean business," said Sky F1's Paul Di Resta of Red Bull, who have made giant strides since the start of the season and have now scored their first pole of 2019.
Verstappen becomes F1's 100th different polesitter and the fourth youngest after Vettel, Leclerc and Fernando Alonso.
"It's incredible. This one was still missing, and you know it's always going to be hard in qualifying but we managed to do it," said a jubilant Verstappen.
On a strong Saturday for McLaren, Lando Norris topped the midfield runners with seventh place ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz, while Williams' George Russell produced a brilliant performance to nearly make Q2 for Williams.
Hungarian GP Grid: Top 10
1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
6. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull
7. Lando Norris, McLaren
8. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
9. Romain Grosjean, Haas
10. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
Verstappen ends the wait in fine style
After a statement victory amid the chaos of the German GP last Sunday - the seventh of his career - Verstappen had been asked on his arrival in Budapest whether he considered himself a title contender alongside Mercedes' Hamilton and Bottas, a notion the 21-year-old played down.
And while a 62-point deficit to Hamilton suggests a true title bid remains an outside possibility, Verstappen's first career pole underlines the momentum gathering at Red Bull-Honda on the eve of the summer break.
"That last lap was stunning and he needed to nail the last corner as Valtteri was ahead at Turn 13, but he did," Red Bull chief Christian Horner told Sky F1.
"It's fantastic for him to get his first pole. It's all credit to Honda, and we couldn't have done it without them."
Bottas got closest for Mercedes - finishing what the team equated to 1.06m behind Red Bull at the end of the 2.7-mile lap - but Verstappen made the difference around the long final two corners, which reward a car's downforce and stability. The Dutchman improved his first Q3 lap by 0.4 seconds.
Bottas said: "It was getting better and better in qualifying and I was pleased with the time in the end. I'm still going to fight for the win."
No driver has won the Hungarian GP more often than Hamilton, but his third-place starting position has complicated his hopes of a record-extending seventh success on Sunday.
"I'm always down for a fight. There's a long way down to Turn One so it should be interesting. Hopefully we can give them a run for their money," insisted the world champion.
British rookies make their mark - again
On a day F1's young generation stole the show, Norris continued his impressive rookie campaign by outqualifying more experienced team-mate Sainz by five hundredths of a second.
But it was friend and compatriot Russell who arguably produced the standout performance of the day by taking F1 2019's slowest car to the verge of Q2. Not only did Russell outqualify team-mate Robert Kubica by 1.3 seconds, he finished ahead of both Racing Point cars and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, the surprise Q1 casualty.
"Prior to this weekend, I don't think we could even have dreamed of qualifying off the back row on merit, but I feel like we've really turned a page this weekend, understanding the tyres and understanding the car," said a beaming Russell.
"I feel we've really come alive."
But there was no cheer for seasoned campaigners Ricciardo and Perez, who both dropped out early after a squabble at the last corner on their final Q1 warm-up laps when the Renault attempted to overtake.
Hungarian GP Qualifying Timesheet
|1. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:14.572|
|2. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.018|
|3. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+0.197|
|4. Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+0.471|
|5. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+0.499|
|6. Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||+0.878|
|7. Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.228|
|8. Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+1.280|
|9. Romain Grosjean||Haas||+1.441|
|10. Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1.469|
|Out in Q2|
|11. Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||1:16.565|
|12. Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso||1:16.687|
|13. Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:16.692|
|14. Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:16.804|
|15. Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:17.081|
|Out in Q1|
|16. George Rusell||Williams||1:17.031|
|17. Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1:17.109|
|18. Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1:17.257|
|19. Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1:17.542|
|20. Robert Kubica||Williams||1:18.324|
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Sky Sports F1's Hungarian GP schedule
Sunday, August 4
8.55am: F3 Race Two (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
10.15am: F2 Race Two
10.30pm (Sky One): The F1 Show
11.40am: Porsche Supercup
12.30pm: Hungarian GP: Pit Lane Live
1,30pm: Hungarian GP: On The Grid
2.10pm: THE HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: Hungarian GP Paddock Live
5.30pm: Hungarian GP Highlights
6.30pm: Hungarian GP Best Bits
7pm: Hungarian GP Race Rerun
Don't miss the next instalment of F1 2019 at the Hungarian GP this weekend on Sky Sports F1 - the final race before the summer break. Find out how to watch all the 2019 season live.