In Q3 at the Hungaroring, the Mercedes driver was the final one to cross the finish line and surpassed Verstappen’s fastest lap, securing his first pole position of the season.
The qualifying format was tweaked as part of an ‘alternative tyre allocation’ trial, where only hard tyres could be used in Q1, medium tyres in Q2, and softs in Q3, which yielded a competitive qualifying session.
Lando Norris achieved a time of 1m16.904s in his initial attempt, surpassing the 1m16s mark and taking the lead. However, Verstappen quickly responded by setting a time of 1m16.612s, leaving Norris disappointed.
Hamilton proceeded to separate the duo who had secured the front row at Silverstone by clocking a time of 1m16.738s. This highlighted the promising performance that Mercedes had displayed intermittently throughout the weekend.
In the second and last set of runs, Verstappen’s performance in the first sector was not as remarkable as before. Although he improved in the second part of the lap, he couldn’t match his previous time, making him susceptible to attacks from the drivers following behind.
Norris came close, but fell just short after achieving a time of 1m16.694s. However, Hamilton was ahead of Verstappen’s time difference by the end of the second sector. Despite the Mercedes appearing to lose control in the last two corners, the seven-time champion managed to maintain his position and secure his first pole since 2021.
The second row was dominated by the McLarens, with Oscar Piastri achieving the fastest time in the middle sector of the session. Zhou Guanyu also had an impressive qualifying performance, securing fifth place on Sunday’s grid for Alfa Romeo.
Charles Leclerc was sixth fastest ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who was just over half a tenth away from his Chinese team-mate, as Fernando Alonso was just 0.001s behind the Finn to take eighth.
Sergio Perez secured ninth place on the starting grid after ending a streak of five races without qualifying for the Q3 session. Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg finished in the top 10, managing to bring his Haas car into the final qualifying shootout once again.
Carlos Sainz was eliminated from the second phase of qualifying due to a last-minute move by his Ferrari teammate Leclerc. Sainz, who was just 0.002 seconds behind fellow Spaniard Alonso, missed out on advancing further in the session.
Verstappen had a frightening moment when his first attempt to top the Q2 table was invalidated due to exceeding track limits at Turn 5. This forced him to make a second attempt using a fresh set of the required medium tires.
He effortlessly entered the top 10, even though he slightly exceeded the boundaries and caused Esteban Ocon to drop into the bottom five. This created an exciting competition to secure a spot in the final phase of qualifying.
Bottas showcased the speed of the Alfa Romeo car and quickly moved up to fourth position, ensuring safety and setting the stage for a thrilling battle between the Ferraris.
Sainz was the unfortunate one who didn’t make it to the final part of qualifying, while Leclerc managed to secure a spot. Sainz was more than a tenth faster than Ocon, who will start in 12th position for the grand prix on Sunday.
Daniel Ricciardo grabbed 13th for his return after replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, as Lance Stroll was promoted to 14th after Pierre Gasly’s final lap was deleted for track limits. The final times all fell within a second of each other.
In a chaotic Q1 session, George Russell was the most notable casualty as he failed to improve his time in the final moments. Meanwhile, Zhou Guanyu took the lead using the hard tires.
Russell expressed his frustration with the heavy traffic before his last lap, and he was passed by Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas, and Pierre Gasly in the final corner as they fought for position on the track. As a result, Russell ended up in 18th place, feeling disadvantaged.
Alex Albon appeared to have successfully avoided being eliminated, but his position in the rankings dropped when Ricciardo surpassed Yuki Tsunoda in the first qualifying attempt. Albon was less than 0.8 seconds away from Zhou’s record, while Tsunoda was only 0.002 seconds behind Albon.
Russell secured a better position than Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant. The American driver fell behind by a lap because of exceeding track limits at the beginning of the session. Additionally, he struggled to navigate the Turn 6/7 chicane during another attempt to move up from the bottom five.