F1 Winter Break
Sebastian Vettel wins tense pole battle for Hungarian Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jul 2011   |  2:11 pm GMT  |  84 comments

Red Bull’s stranglehold on pole position this season was maintained but under intense pressure from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel peaked at the perfect moment to shade Lewis Hamilton. Jenson Button was third.

It was Vettel’s eighth pole of the season and the 23rd of his career.

“It was a good session for us after yesterday when the others were faster than us. I’m very pleased with the result, we changed a lot on the car. I have the confidence back and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Lewis Hamilton was second after failing to improve in his second run in Q3, while Felipe Massa outqualified team mate Fernando Alonso for the first time this season. Mark Webber was only 6th, 6/10ths slower and admitting candidly that he couldn’t possibly have done a lap in the 1m19s as Vettel did.

Adrian Sutil outqualified Michael Schumacher, 8th to Schumacher’s 9th.

Getting the time proved tricky for many drivers in the final runs, but Vettel put it all together once again.

It was one of the most closely fought qualifying sessions of the season so far, with Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull hard to separate as Q3 began.

Starting on the dirty side of the grid carries one of the largest penalties of the season on this notoriously dusty track.

In Q1 Sebastien Buemi was the driver who dropped out with the new teams, Toro Rosso again the car which doesn’t find the speed. Anyway Buemi also has a five place grid drop from the accident he caused in Germany.

But in that new team competition there were some good battles – Liuzzi beat Ricciardo by a tenth, but both of them were ahead of D’Ambrosio in the Virgin.

At Lotus Trulli pushed Kovalainen very hard with his new power steering system and this drove the pair of them on. Kovalainen did a superb job, only three tenths slower than Buemi.

In Q2 we had a battle royal between Sauber, Force India and Renault to get cars through into the Top Ten shootout.

Sutil and Perez did an outstanding job to get through, just behind the Mercedes. Renault slipped to 12th and 14th as they slide deeper into the midfield battle. Paul di Resta again could not match his team mate Sutil.

Hamilton got through using only a set of soft tyres, saving a set of supersofts, a smart bit of tactical thinking.

He was fastest after the first runs in Q3, ahead of Vettel, Alonso, Button, Massa and Webber, but it wasn’t to be.

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, Budapest, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m19.815s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m19.978s + 0.163
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1m20.024s + 0.209
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m20.350s + 0.535
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m20.365s + 0.550
6. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m20.474s + 0.659
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m21.098s + 1.283
8. Adrian Sutil Force India1m21.445s + 1.630
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m21.907s + 2.092
10. Sergio Perez Sauber No time

11. Paul di Resta Force India1m22.256s + 1.994
12. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.284s + 2.022
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m22.435s + 2.173
14. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m22.470s + 2.208
15. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m22.684s + 2.422
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m22.979s + 2.717
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams No time

18. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m24.070s + 2.492
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m24.362s + 2.784
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m24.534s + 2.956
21. Timo Glock Virgin 1m26.294s + 4.716
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m26.323s + 4.745
23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1m26.479s + 4.901
24. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m26.510s + 4.932

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What was the real issue with Webber? It is hard to believe if the car was perfect that he was that slow.


notice the jubilant cheering and hugging as vettel gets pole? then when webber get's pole, it's a subdued applause.

how can so much stuff not work out for webber? drs, kers etc? has he now signed, so they're not helping him out as much as the last two races?


More bad luck Webber syndrome I think!


his DRS failed on the main straight, other sector times were identical to Vettel.


According to Mark, he came out for his final run behind JB who was going quite slowly, warming up his tyres. Mark would have liked to go faster at this stage but couldn't get around JB, which Mark says is fair enough. He then activated his DRS a smidge early and it naturally failed to deploy. He ran the straight without DRS but did have KERS. Therefore his first sector time was rubbish. He states that after turn 5, his times were comparable to Seb's. He went on to say that he didnt have a time like Seb's in him though.


He said he lost tire temperature behind button on the inlap, and that he hit the drs button to early or something so it didn't work on the main straight. I think that might have been caused by focusing to much on the kers problem. He says the from turn 5 his and Vettels laps were identical. Read this on eurosport.


Watching the F1 race tracker, Webber came out behind Button on his second run and was far too close to get the tries right.

Then Webber screwed up the DRS activation coming onto the front straight, so he did the first sector with KERS but not DRS.

If you look at the sector times he lost all his time to Vettel in that first sector.

So poor timing in being sent out, poor execution of driving aids = 6 teths off pole.


Personally, I couldn't care less about qualifying at this moment. F1 has a bigger fish to fry.


I agree, it was amazing to see the elephant in the room during the BBC quali coverage. With all the uproar not even one mention of it apart from Jakes reference to news relating to on track stories.


There was a radio message aired in relation to Webbers KERS after his first run in Q3 which suggested there was some sort of issue. His time didn't really improve in the second run either - James are you able to confirm whether Webbers KERS was functioning correctly?


KERS was OK but his DRS failed!


Great qualifying, everyone havin doubts that Vettel lost his power...look!


Yes, Vettel says that he has his confidence back. Hamilton and Alonso don't need to be on pole to have such confidence! I'll be surprised if Vettel wins this one.


They're still there,those doubts.

Lewis lost the pole,Vettel didn't win it.

Looks like those recent blown diffuser changes have hurt the right team.


But ask yourself if your are a real motorsport-fan when you say that those changes "hurt" the right team.

When you try to see the F1 a little bit more objective you can't agree.


Yep. Looks like the boy's got his mojo back.


Now that was fun. This is what qualifying should be like and not earlier Red Bull form where they were beating the #3 guy by 8 tenths but my God what has a guy got to do to bump those bulls off pole position.

Anyway Vettel did a good job and congrats to him but the way this script written, it couldn't be more Hollywood than this.

Despite popular belief, Pole position in Hungary just like at the Nurburgring and Silverstone is more of a disadvantage than an advantage for out of 25 Grand Prix there, only 11 have won from pole. Even the great Schumi has won only 4 from 7 pole positions.

So this race and track has Lewis Hamilton all over it like white on rice for look, the Hungaroring was opened the same year Hammy was born, hell they even share the same first initial so yes, Lewis owns this baby, no doubt.

Strange to see Alonso get out qualified by Massa, all this on Massa's bogey track as for the unluckiest man in motorsport - Webber - Am not really surprised.

Good job also by Jenson, Sutil, Perez and Riccardo.

Right, my predictions for tomorrow





Vettel hasn't finished two of his three Hungary Grand Prix - Stay tuned...

Alright, catch you all at the battle field.

Conrad M. Sathirweth

That was bit bit pro-Hamilton. I mean Hamilton made the mistake on his final lap that probably cost him the tenth to Vettel, who put in a very good lap to get pole.

Jenson Button also did very well to get up into third which should allow him to fight at the front again unless he has more bad luck.


think alonso lost out badly in the first runs behind mark webber in sector 3. he was slower in q3 than in q2 which confirms this. dont think he was on for pole but p3 maybe. but this result confirms to me that if i had to pick anybody to save my life with the last lap in q3 for pole i would pick vettel. f1s fastest man on a saturday. mclaren was quickest car today. the look on mark webbers face said it all. stunned seb did a 19.8. i want all the haters to give seb credit for this.


Vettel got let off, he shouldn't have got pole n Lewis had the pace to beat him, but on his last run he blew it, and I'm a Hamilton fan. Hopefully the red bull drops off in the race like usual and the mclarens can make vettel fight for it


James, why on earth is ok ok for RBR to break curfew purely to increase the pace of the car rather than to make repairs and or adjustments for the sake of reliability? Does anyone in F1 play by the rules any more?


Every team has a joker to do this, read the rules before accusing 1 team of cheating.


They can break curfew 4 times a year for whatever reason they want to, pretty simple really. I guess it's a lot more interesting to go looking for intrigue and malevolence though.


The rules are that you can break it 4 times a year. You can do it for whatever reason you like, doesn't need to be for repairs!


Yeah I think based on race pace and seemingly better tyre degradation, both Mclarens should get ahead by the first set of stops at the latest.

That being said, the middle sector here, with its twisty and flowing nature, is going to be dominated by Red Bull, and they are going to be able to pull at least a few tenths before they get to the DRS detection zone, so unless Hamilton and Button can get ahead early on, I fear Vettel could get the win by doing just enough, without having to push.


Hamilton has an extra set of supersofts, so IF IF IF he can get a decent start from the dirty side and maintain 2nd (or 3rd if it's only JB in front) he'll be in with a very very good chance.

Also, Vettel is bound to cut across, which might play into JB's hands.

Will be an interesting start/race anyway. If only the season had started like this.

PS. Am I alone in thinking MW was kind of hinting at mischief in the post-qually interviews, mentioning 'lots of work on the cars overnight' and stressing 'trying different things' on each? That, and his demeanour, suggested to me that he thinks SV has a better car.


He's still on the front row, and with two totally unused supersoft tyres for the race. That may prove to be a significant advantage tomorrow.

Surprising that Alonso couldn't beat Massa's time. I don't think that's happened often. Massa may be compromised by tyres tomorrow though. Did he use all three sets of supersofts to get through qualifying??



Its quite clear to me that whilst Ferrari seem to have the best race pace on average of late, they are still having issues with getting the required tyre temp on quali runs, they're not making it any easier for themselves, although I still fancy Alonso for a podium, if not the win.


I wonder how desperate Massa will be to stay ahead of Alonso?


Massa will be in front of alonso for 2 seconds... I bet alonso is pleased to start in 5th instead of 4th.


"OK, so. Fernando is faster than YOU"



Agree. First corner will be fantastic - hopefully.

I wrote it yesterday, I will say it again: HAM, ALO and BUT on podium. Don't know the order...


Thinking about it, I guess the more laps they run in quali, the less laps that set will manage on Sunday.


I'm not sure I understand why they're persisting with these single-lap runs that the others do, they clearly don't work. His fastest Q2 time was on his third lap on the tyres. I guess they have a lot more data than I do, though...


Vettel just like Hamilton in Germany seemed to get more out of that car than there was to be had... Brilliant!

That was the best qualy I have seen all year in as any of three teams had a legit chance to win it....


very true, no fan of Vettel here but I have to agree with you.


The slightly unpredictable lap times in the final session today seem to indicate that as well as there being a big difference in pace between tyres with different compounds, there are also very slight but noticeable differences between sets of tyres of the same compound, is this possible?


Man... this was close! Red Bull is slowly but surely losing ground. Remember the days when they didn't even go for the 2nd attempt in Q3? It was not so long ago. Now they have problems clinching poles (even with their DRS) which means they (again) won't have the fastest car on sunday.

Second half of the championship could indeed be interesting.


Good show. And Sutil continues to impress.


But the British media will still pretend how Di resta is the most amazing driver ever while Sutil has zillion points more in the championship and while Di Resta drives around like an amateur in the race itself.


Posts that take a specific pop at the British media supporting British drivers and teams are really tiresome, when the same happens in every other country.


Go read some other country's media, then you won't upset yourself.


I think the underlying single lap performance for the Red Bull car is still better than McLaren or Ferrari. Perhaps agility is a better word because that car has superb aero whereas the other two I think maybe make it up in other areas and therefore still need to improve to be fully competitive. That said the race on Sunday maybe a different story with McLarens race pace proving to much for the competition. I suppose the next big question is will Hamilton get passed Vettel at the start? - Very debatable!


Nice Qualification.

I might be wrong, but I think Lewis made a mistake somewhere in the last corner… He could have been on pole.

What is more remarkable - it is his pace on soft tires - in Q2 he did his lap on them - and was still not so behind others... on his last run he was also the fastest until some point…

I can only guess of course, but if he stays out of trouble on the first lap and keep cool from then, then he will annihilate the field.


Despite eight tenths of a second per lap difference between super-softs option tyres (lasting some 14 laps) and soft prime tyres (24 laps), Pirelli expects the prime tyre to be the one used most in the race, due to degradation issues.

This should allow for many strategy variations as the race unfolds. This will be thriller!!! And difficult to follow & understand as it goes on...


Vettel says his confidence is back... Was it gone, despite 77 points advantage? Will he have tough holidays if he doesn't win tomorrow? Sounds like he is feeling a big pressure on his shoulders!!!


Hamilton's run in Q2 on the harder tyres was damned impressive, I thought. Pity he couldn't reproduce quite the same heroics on his final run in Q3. An even greater shame he wound up on the dirty side of the grid as a result. I'll be hoping Vettel bogs down off the start, or that Hamilton just manages to get a blinding start and leads into the first corner. If he does that, I reckon he'll be on for the win again.


James, since your at the track can you tell us how much of a disadvantage the even numbered grid slots are, from looking at gp2 etc?

Also would teams be allowed to go and sweep and clean that side of the track overnight, and posssibly lay some rubber down using other types of machinery, or is that against the rules?

Many thanks


I am at Hungaroring this weekend, watching othe race live...I have met a lot of fans and most of them are negatively surprised at how bad the organization is. Security guys almost want to kill you and you definitely do not feel welcomed. Anyways, as a Ferrari fan, I am obviously not happy with results. I thought they could do better...

Just a quesiton to folks who to go see races live...why do yoy do it? It is so much better to see it in front of TV, you pay huge money and see nothing.

Best way to watch races it at home at HD, with live timings on and read the blog of JA. Going to races is useless and a waste of money,


Yes you do follow the race better on HDTV and with the live timing from the 'net on your computer, but you can't make up for the roar of the engines, the smell, the atmosphere, the excitement of the crowd (at least here in Montreal). . . Why do you go to hear live music? The sound is always better from your sound system in the comfort of your home.


I was in Monza before and it worth every cent that I paid for the ticket, but in Hungary it is a complete disaster. Never again in my life! I came back an even better F1 from Monza and in contrary completely lost my interest after the weekend at Hungaroring.

Came early for the pit lane walk to see drivers and did not see anybody. In Monza you could get super close to the box and in here...you were like 15 meters with guards all over the place.

Worst ever experience....from now on, only HDTV, Live Timing and good atmosphere at home.


Melbourne is always good fun at the track. Yes you pay big money but you get 4 days of motorsport. All day every day. Lots of drinking and partying and you can stay within Walking distance.


Better still, why not become a recluse, let your finger & toenails grow very long indeed, gaze into a computer monitor 24/7 while other people are out there having fun?


Yeah but you can't replace the thrill of being there and the roar of those engines, with a little culture thrown in! Canada was just a fantastic experience, we definitely felt welcome there, Montreal is one of the most beautiful and sophisticated cities on the planet, and the food...ah the food!! I sat there shivering in the rain for 2 hours and it was well worth it. I'll do it again too although next time I'll bring a rain poncho. Having said that thanks for the heads up on Hungary. I'll make sure to avoid that race.


So Hamilton saves a set of super softs for tomorrow which could be the key. I fancy him for the win tomorrow. Vettel seems to have no chance. I think Alonso blew it, he may not have gotten pole but atleast he could have have 3rd. His first run was ruined because he caught Webber in the final sector and couldn't put together a clean lap on his last try.

Really think Ferrari have lost it, they could have saved one set of super softs with Alonso for tomorrow very easily but they sent him out with softs when they didn't need to.

Massa put a nice clean lap and Alonso put two messy laps but still were separated by 0.015, that speaks volumes. I'm sure Alonso is up there with Hamilton in raw speed.

simon mitchell

it looks like an interesting result for tomorrow but am i the only one who feels so deflated because of what the sport the bbc and sky have done that i just didnt get excited by it im not even sure im going to watch the race for the first time in 25 years i just feel so let down.


No, you're not the only one. I missed large chunks of the action and commentary because my mind was wandering and I'm still annoyed. To be honest, the reason I opened JA on F1 now was because I couldn't remember the outcome.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Vettel seemed thrilled to bits with the prospect that he might not have to overtake anyone tomorrow....maybe "that's what he's talking about".

Expect Hamilton and Alonso to make mincemeat of him early on in the race.


Shame vettel snuck it again. What the hell did they do to that car overnight?

Nice to see Jenson man up his quali performance for his 200th GP. Was a surprise seeing him in the post quali interview - not seen him there much this year! He generally races well so if he can finally start bridging the qualifying gap to Lewis he can pose a threat again next year and maybe pick up some confidence in his weakest area this year.

Also just good fun to see Massa nab it ahead of alonso. Though expect to see Alonso take that place back like a school ground bully at turn one 😉

Also liked MBs comment about 'which drivers will be joining us on the unemployment line?' I think he just meant retired but the pause from DC suggested he may have done a cheeky reference to being ditched out of their BBC contract next year - apart from that the great editorial silence on the whole matter - sure the BBC crew there aren't to blame and wanted to appear professional. Thought EJ could have been relied on to blurt something though...


Hamilton will take Vettel into the first corner as sure as eggs is eggs as he has the inside line. Just need Button the go round the outside of the boy wonder and that will be it.


Inside line is disadvantage in this case, not enough turning angle to turn one. Better off on the outside line you can sweep the turn at higher speed than the inside guy. Besides, starting on the dirty side on this tract is bad news, I'd say Hamilton needs to focus on the start try not to lose too much ground at the start. Personally i think he'll take the first corner at P3 or P4 behind Janson and he can start building his race from there. He'll probably have pressure from Alonso whom I think will jump Massa on start (Massa is also on the dirty side) and we know how superb Ferrari is on start. But let’s see... that's just me thinking loud...


How cool us webber. No whinging excuses just a clear statement of facts post quali. This line up will make for an intense first corner.


Go Vettel.

Go Red Bull.

Hamilton, cracking under the pressure. He can't hack it.


I'm not sure that we've ever seen Hamilton crack under pressure, have we?

On the other hand Vettel doesn't fight hard once he falls back. He needs to be at the front to do well and his only chance of making up places is by clever RB team strategy at the pit stops.


The red bull is comfortably the fastest qualy car due to DRS, I'm surprised the gap wasn't bigger. Webber matched Vettel's second half of the lap despite the fact that he didnt have DRS today and Vettel did, so clearly not a great lap from Seb.

Should be a good race though!


just when all the kids are getting very excited Vettel goes and shoves all the toys back in the box and slams it shut!! Plainly we're looking at a double wdc here.

I'm tipping Rosberg to shine in the race. that may be way over-optimistic but I'm predicting his best finish of 2011....


McLaren looks like the faster car here. This sets up another glorious race. I have a sneaky suspicion that Jenson will win this.


Hi James,

about the work that Red Bull made during night, i believe that there is a rule this year about curfew, that can only be broken 4 times.

Any information James of who and how many times broke the curfew, or where we can see it?

About this session i thought it wouldn't be that close, i liked the long run pace of Ferrari and Mclaren but seeing last year and event earlier this year, i was expecting the last lap of Vettel (and maybe Webber) to take all by at the usual 0.500 sec, but i felt that both Hamilton and Alonso, with a good last run could have nailed it.


The start is going to be immense! Vettel in a Mclaren sandwich into turn 1!


Vettel is a sitting duck. After the tricky start with Mclaren lurking he's then got to deal with their DRS.

If he manages to win this, it'll be a huge result for his WDC campaign.

I'm really interested to see what Alonso does. He's in Do or Die mode so he'll be pushing hard.


I agree completely.

Not only start and DRS, you also have like 3 pit stops and 2 McLarens to cover. And McLaren will be faster car again.

Hope Vettel does it, though 🙂


Had lewis not made a mistake on the last corner, he would taken pole easy. I think he will blitz Seb to the corner, if not I see LH overtaking Seb in the race, remember LH has an extra set of Super softs... It's going to go down to the wire I feel.

Watch out for a bullet start from Fernando as well.


Nothing to do with this thread but we could do with some levity this dark weekend, so I thought I'd share this:

While sorting out our loft this week (Mrs Werewolf insisted!) I found some old motor sport magazines, including the Motoring News edition of 2 June 1994. Aside from an interview with an absurdly young David Coulthard on the eve of his F1 debut, it contains on page 4 a feature article on Max Mosley's then battles with the teams. The headline must be one of the most wonderfully prophetic in journalistic history: "Meetings and beatings"!

F12010 to kill time until March

James, do you know what kind of problems Mercedes are having? Seems like there is still something wrong(by birth) with this year`s car too, and they havent really improved that much compared to the other top teams.

Are they pushing for in-season testing?


Newey's cars are perfect when they're just right and running in clean air.

Prediction: unless Vettel gets out well in front on the first 2-3 laps he will become dinner for the McLarens. Also watch the RBR7's for KERS/DRS problems; there's something wrong if the mechanics were working till 3.30am...that isn't a minor set-up change.


Hi james!

Would like to know what do you think about the gap between rosberg and schumi? I am a diehard schumi fan but this is getting rather painfull can you shed alight on this? Does michael still have it or has he lost the magic?

Btw loved your book about schumi great writing James!


AFAIK no one mentioned this anywhere:

Jensen was 0.046 sec. slower then Lewis !

Well done, good luck and speed for his 200th

F1 race,



I think that over one lap (ultimate speed), Red Bull still have the fastest car, but the tide is starting to turn. I can see McLaren having the fastest car in terms of ultimate speed at most of the remaining rounds. Look out Red Bull, Lewis is coming FAST!!!!


Surely there will be changes at turn one.......and so the story goes....

Another good race ahead for sure!

Gosh, what's been going on at McLaren camp, the drivers racing suits look awful with the flowers. They had some bad ones this year but this is the worst.


The real travesty here is that no-one cares what is going on on-track at present. With approx a thousand posts on the BBC decision in the last three posts on this site, and about 60 on this, the real focus in peoples minds at present is on the crummy deal all the loyal fans (worldwide) feel they have gotten from Mr. E & Co.

I just can’t get into what’s going on in the races at present, maybe my emotions will die down, but the prospect of a disjointed F1 season next year, where I can’t see the dramas unravel in real time, is very upsetting.

I CAN afford a subscription to Sky. But I won’t pay them a penny and would rather get into watching baseball, because deep down I know that paying Sky would be unethical.


It appears to come from a site called questionerisightings.com

You know them?


Sorry - its questioneriseekings.com


It looks like as if it is going to rain during the race, so anything can happen. I would assume that if it is wet, than there is no real difference between starting from the clean and dirty side of the track.

In that case, both Hamilton and Button could do very well...maybe Alonso too. Anything can happen, so let's see.


Expecting Vettel to do his usual swerve off the start line in a desperate attempt to cut off the enxt driver at the first bend......sensing a likely collsion on the first bend if this tactic is attempted on Hamilton!

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