Hamilton takes Hungarian GP pole with something to spare
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Jul 2012   |  4:22 pm GMT  |  136 comments

Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying in Hungary, setting the pace in all three sessions with two laps fast enough for pole position. His margin over second place was more than four tenths, while he had six tenths in hand over his team mate Button in 4th place.

It was Hamilton’s 22nd career pole and the 150th for McLaren. He is joined on the front row by Lotus’ Romain Grosjean in his highest ever starting position after an entertaining session. Sebastian Vettel had to use up sets of soft tyres just to make it into Q3 and his challenge was blunted as a result.

Hamilton was the man to beat on Friday and although he lost out to Mark Webber in FP3, it was largely because he didn’t get the most on new soft tyres. His pace on mediums has been blistering throughout.

“It has been a really positive weekend so far, finally we see the upgrades working this weekend, being able to put car in places I previously wasn’t able to,” said Hamilton.

“I am always striving for the perfect lap, and to get that is intense and exciting and if you get it right it is incredibly empowering. This weekend we have obviously had pace, we knew it was possible but it was just a case of doing it.

“Considering we have had pace all weekend, [missing pole] would have been disappointing, so I am happy I have done it.”

But he will need to be on his mettle tomorrow, particularly with the threat from Grosjean. The Lotus has had race pace to match any team lately but has just lacked qualifying speed. From this front row platform, with potentially better tyre wear, Grosjean could win the race.

Hamilton has scored just four points in the last three races (while Alonso has scored 68) and he has to get a win tomorrow, ideally with Alonso off the podium, to start closing the gap. The McLaren is clearly much improved, but there are threats everywhere.

Hamilton proved his speed early on with a time set on the medium compound tyre that could not be matched by any of those on the soft. He was able to save an extra set of the soft tyres for the final phase of qualifying.

This weekend saw the first fully dry qualifying session in the last three races where McLaren had hoped to put their raft of upgrades to good use. The track temperatures were erratic today; the session started at 46 degrees then fell to 39 then rose to 45 again.

Alongside Button on the second row is Sebastian Vettel, who scraped his way through Q1 in 17th position. Vettel looked like he might be on for pole position earlier in the shoot out until a mistake in the final sector cost him that chance and allowed Grosjean to steal second at the flag.

Red Bull has been under scrutiny again, this time over a ride height control question, with the FIA asking them to remove an item on the suspension which they found on the car in Montreal. For qualifying today an FIA inspector conspicuously put FIA stickers on the side of the Red Bull chassis, underlining how the team is under the microscope at the moment.

The third row is filled by two former World Champions with Kimi Raikkonen having the bragging rights over championship leader Fernando Alonso. Raikkonen completed another strong showing for Lotus who are gaining more consistency and pushing towards their first GP victory.

Alonso had a relatively understated session compared to recent races; the warm conditions proving that his comments this week regarding their lack of pace to other top teams are true.

Felipe Massa will be more satisfied than his Ferrari team mate, ending the session in 7th place and just 0.05 slower than Alonso.

The Williams pairing of Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna are joined by Nico Hulkenberg to complete the top 10. Senna has shown impressive pace all weekend and this is the first time in 2012 that he has made it to the top 10 shoot out.

As qualifying began, the majority of cars headed out on the medium compound tyre as the track became very busy with all 24 runners trying to set an early lap. Hamilton set the initial benchmark in Q1 as he set a 1:21.794; half a second faster than anyone else could manage on the prime tyre.

When the remainder of the field used a set of the option tyres Hamilton’s time remained unbeaten with the softer compound bringing less of an advantage than the half a second that was previously suggested. The top 17 drivers were covered by 1.2 seconds and Vettel was the man under pressure as he just made the cut in to Q2 after aborting his soft tyre run.

Q2 saw every car take the option tyres and Hamilton proved that the option tyre was, in-fact, substantially faster than the prime, at least on his car as he went 9/10ths faster than his medium tyre run and over half a second ahead of team mate Jenson Button when they both used the soft compound.

As many other cars took an early run on their Q1 rubber Hamilton needed just one lap to set a blistering pace of 1:21.0 and 4/10ths of a second faster than Vettel in second place. Mark Webber was unable to match the pace of his Red Bull team mate and found himself in 11th position and out of qualifying, although only 3/10ths off Vettel. Webber was joined in the drop-zone by the two Mercedes who continued with their tyre warming struggles to leave Rosberg and Schumacher  in 13th and 17th places respectively.

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, Hungaroring, Qualifying

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m20.953s
2. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m21.366s + 0.413 secs
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m21.416s + 0.463
4. Jenson Button McLaren 1m21.583s + 0.630
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m21.730s + 0.777
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.844s + 0.891
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.900s + 0.947
8. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m21.939s + 0.986
9. Bruno Senna Williams 1m22.343s + 1.390
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m22.847s + 1.894

11. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m21.715s + 0.655
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m21.813s + 0.753
13. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m21.895s + 0.835
14. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m21.895s + 0.835
15. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m22.300s + 1.240
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m22.380s + 1.320
17. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m22.723s + 1.663

18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.250s + 1.456
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m23.576s + 1.782
20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m24.167s + 2.373
21. Charles Pic Marussia 1m25.244s + 3.450
22. Timo Glock Marussia 1m25.476s + 3.682
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m25.916s + 4.122
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m26.178s + 4.384

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Makes my £363 a year sky subscription look like a waste when this happens…


I couldn’t agree with your more… I respect him as a driver but find him intolerable as a person


Now, where are you people that often state “I am growing tired of hearing Ferrari has a much slower car than Mclaren/RB”, especially when Alonso manages to delivere an extraordinary performance to put the car higher up than what it deserves.

Are you seeing the point now? Will you remember it in case Alonso goes on to win the race today in some way? Probably not.



In the press conference, you sounded like you did the ‘quickest time’ up the stairs. Or were you just happy to be there?

On a more serious note, if Grosjean can get pass Lap2/3 without hitting anything i can see him being a real threat. Has there been any talk around the inner circles about Grosjean and his early laps in a GP. Is he highly strung by nature and takes time to settle since it cannot be all bad luck? Wonder what a heart monitor on him would produce. I would like to see him do well and i think it may be this race. He needs to start converting quali into good points.


I had to run from the comm box which is at far end of grandstand, to the other end of the stand, down stairs, across a bridge, down some more stairs, then the full length of the paddock and up some more stairs. In 31 degrees heat..

So that’s why..


Is that all?!?!?? LUXURY!!! 🙂


Why did not Riccardio make another run in Q1, when it was obvious that:

1. the car was capable of going at least .5 s faster, judging from the time of his team mate (that he usually have had no problems beating in qualy thus far in season)

2. his current time was not going to be enough to make it to Q2

As a direct consequence, mr Vettel made it to Q2, and was able to save tyres.

What does it mean to have a “sister team”?? Another “grey area”, that RB are using to have the advantage of running with 4 cars instead of 2?


They’d planned just one run on softs.

Missing Ascanelli in my view, but then again Vergne has failed to make the cut plenty of times in the past


If Hamilton gets a decent start he’s won it end of story ! . If not then The Lotus & Red Bull will come into play. For those of you still counting Qualifying performances as your driver preference -I remind you it counts for nothing on Sunday and those same drivers quite often get passed by their team mates on Sunday ! I really hope Romain goes well this time and gives Lewis a real headache but I cannot get over how people still knock Kimis performance after two years out – he is still fighting 4th place in the drivers ! Well ahead of his team mate. I still reckon he is more likely to make a mistake during the race.


Considering the weather forecast that rain will fall, the order will change which can be interesting on the narrow tight Hungary track.

Should it be a dry race Grojean could be the winner although I’d love to see Kimi on the top steps. Also hoping Hamilton tyre management can hold as he’s in the front knowing his aggressive driving style.

As for Alonso we all know anything can happen, usually on a positive. Ferrari was rather draggy in quaili.

Red Bull has been in the suspicious mode from FIA with stickers plastered on the suspension area. Looks like they’ve dropped their pace with change to their engine mapping.

But most of all I like is being not sure of what will happen from the weather changes if it does occur. But then again it might be 45 degrees track temp all the way.

The 3 weeks break after Hungary sure helps as the Olympics will be over by then.


James, what is your prediction for podium finishers today? I’m guessing Lewis Grosjean then Kimi. Does this result not also prove that the Ferrari is clearly not the fastest car still, by a country mile.


It’s wet then it could be anyone’s game. Dry and I see Grosjean giving Hamilton a hard time


Tall poppy syndrome at its best! Whenever red bull is exploring the boundaries, its called Cheating, when its Maclaren or Ferrari, its called ingenuity???

When Alonso qualifies in Germany with his whole car off the track, and also during the race regularly off the track in the same corner, its called a supreme performance. Vettel does it during this qualifying and everyone calls him a cheat???

We all have our favourite teams/drivers, but let’s try and be unbiased and consistent in our judgement


Many, many posters on here regard McL as cheats, mainly without justifiable reason.

The $100m fine for spygate is used & probably will be until those posters are six feet under.

McL have been careful not to contravene any regs witout having it checked first (F duct) as they have been tageted for a long time.

Now the focus is on Red Bull.


Vettel did it on the dry on Q3. Alonso did it on the wet (almost everyone did), and in the race. 1 10th of a second isnt much in race, but in qualifying is a lot, Vettel should get a warning at least.

Tornillo Amarillo

McLaren has got momentum now, great speed in dry conditions, podium in Germany, historic unlapping, pole in Hungary, record pitstops ever…

I think if they do some negative times in the pitstops(-2 or -3 seconds) they can easily win the race.


Hell yes!!! 100% chance of rain for the race. Fernando Alonso gets his 31st win on his 31st birthday.

The McLarens struggle in the rain because they can’t get heat into the front tires.

Same with the Lotus.

Since the FIA deemed their flexing front wing illegal, their front wheel hub illegal, their hole in the floor illegal, their engine mapping illegal, their ride height front suspension adjustable from inside the cockpit illegal, Red Bull will also struggle in the rain.

Come on Fernando!!!


Mercedes – how long before they pull the plug?

Whether it be 2010, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 they will never produce a top 5 or race winning car, never.

There is simply no improvement in 3 years. Its laughable.

Why would Schumacher want to resign to come 7, or 8th or worse. risk his life to come last. Surely his wife would say “Michael, this is madness.”


Im guessing you didn’t watch China this year? Cause Nico won, in a Mercedes…

Bring Back Murray

Buzz of driving a car at 320 kph I guess!


Mercedes as always are just falling back as the season progresses. James do you think theres a chance Schumacher could leave and go to Ferrari for a year before retiring?


It’s no good telling the drivers to “imagine” there’s a wall at the edge of the circuit they just need to actually put in the walls or some other means to slow/take out a driver,a la Monaco, if they venture off the circuit. Either that or have 3 warnings= a drive through. Any how Vettel and Red Bull do seem good at cheating. I just can’t get to liking them as team for some reason


Well it just goes to show what a lottery racing is on these Pirelli tyres, to be honest it is quite ridiculous and a farce. That said Lewis and McLaren deserved pole this weekend as they produced some scintilating laps, but getting cars to consistently work properly with these tyres is too complex and variable a study for racing conditions. I would support a move back to durable tyres next season as what we are seeing is unrepresentative of what a racing car and driver can produce in ideal circumstances.


Can we please let it be known to the FIA that we do not like the new podium interview format. The old format is much better.

Bring Back Murray

They aren’t planning to do that every race are they from now on? I thought that was something they did just as a one off. Agreed, it was so random and unprofesional wasn’t it.

If it ain’t broke…


older was more dignified, and also tradition is important



With all due respect to one of my heroes, Sir Jackie…


+1, feels unprofessional. Australian TV only shows this interview but it’s the professional journalists we want to see asking questions


Yes it’s awfully tacky. I guess it’s good for those who actually go an see the race live, to be able to see the drivers’ reactions. But I’d rather they just did an open-air press conference than be interrupted on the podium.


I agree. James, do you know any way the FIA can gauge public opinion on this? If the majority are for it then let it stay, but I (for one) am not sold on it yet.


Well, it could be better if they sent someone up there with decent questions lined up for the drivers.


I agree. Think it is possibly the worst ever idea from the fia


I find the big gap LH has to basically everyone else, including his team mate, very surprising. Does he have new parts that are not on Buttons car? Or is it that his car setup is more aggressive, optimized more towards qualifying than race? I suspect LH will be suffering from tyre wear/deg much more than everyone else tomorrow.


If it stays dry and hot then I think you are likely to be right. The McLaren might be a bit softer in its springs now, but high aerodynamic loads will generate more heat and therefore more degradation. The car has not gone well at the two hot races in Bahrain and Valencia, so that isn’t a great sign.


It’s entirely normal for Lewis to blow Jenson away in quali when he’s on form.

If it’s dry, only a Lotus will stand a chance of catching Lewis tomorrow.


Why did Ricciardo pit on his last flying lap? Oh yes so as not to take out his teams number one driver – Vettel!


Hi James,

Why did FIA count the lap that Vettel set during Q3 when he ran with four wheels over the white line…why did they haven`t given any penalty to Vettel…where most of the other drivers lap were discarded..even hamilton thrown his lap once due to the same mistake…



He should have been penalized with no second thoughts. I’m really getting fed up with Red Bull***t.

And since they are so fond of conspiracy theories, here’s one for them:

Ricciardo didn’t improve his time because Vettel didn’t have time nor tires to afford any more runs to improve his time in Q1.


was VERY surprised at the showing Bruno Senna has done all weekend so far.

also pleased to see the results of Charles Pic at Marussia again.

sorry, but after almost 3 years, I still ain’t buying into the recent hype over Caterham / Kovy.

good to see the Hulk finally making his presence known in the Team.

so very pleased that Toro Rosso is atill reeling after dumping Scott Speed… what they have done to virtually EVERY driver is simply unconscionable…


Ferrari, as expected. McLaren, as expected. Do you guys remember the fact that all drivers were warned not to use the off track areas as they will be penalized? Mny people posted vettel going outside the track with 4 wheels…do you think FIA noticed?



Vettel did put all the four wheels across the white line…James can use ask FIA or stewards to look at Vettel`s Q3 lap…this is not good for Formula 1…how much Redbull are going to cheat FIA and Formula 1…


Great front end on hamiltons mclaren in the last sector. In a different league to alonso’s Ferrari through turns 12 13 and 14.


It’s a complicated business. But, basically if you are ahead in the driver standings (that’s the drivers listed in order of championship points gained) then you have LESS not more worry !


pardon me, this is in ref to No 7 “Goferet”.


is it just me, or do I hear a wee bit of chatter from those at the sharp end of the grid intimating that there could be a bit of a problem with the consistency of the tires from 1 set to another??

I think I have a basic understanding of the extraordinary difficulty in manufacturing/storing/mounting/using such a large number of hand-made tires every event has to be…

but IF a quality driver/Team even thinks they can measure the difference (as in “we need to find why we could not…”), it could be totally devastating for the sport…


TitanRacer I have been saying this all season. I have put it to JAllen on more than one occasion with no response. If the operating window of a tyre can be so slim and so dependant on so many variables working within the same slim window how can you manufacture a tyre to be consistent race by race and team by team.


I think that tyre variations have existed throughout the time that I’ve been following F1 since the 1985.

There are so many variables, from getting the tyre pressures exactly the same, the initial heating of the tyres (the time spent in the blankets) and by the driver (energy put in given different track conditions), to ambient and track conditions and fuel load, that it is very difficult to isolate why the performance on a tyre set might not be quite right.

I don’t see total devastation. No lives were lost due to Renault’s alternator problems in Valencia. As the teams have a free choice of six sets in a race, several would need to be dodgy for say Red Bull to sue Pirelli so that the fellow Italians at Ferrari could win. Otherwise it woud come down to chance as the bad tyre might not even be picked.

If the tyres are randomly bad, then it could be argued that Pirelli could have its reputation damaged, and no other supplier would want to come in. At that point you might need a tyre war to ensure there are tyres to use.


impossible NOT to have variations. always have been – always will be. seems natural that at the pinnacle of racing, the variations would be expected to be VERY minimal.

it just seems that some drivers/Teams are beginning to hint there may be performance variation issues beyond what they feel comfortable with…


Hopefully grosjean does it for Lotus ..long overdue for a mid tier team …somehow JV;s comment that 2 new drivers may have hurted Lotus’s chances…maybe in the hands of Alonso..the Lotus team may have been championship leader … has Kimi lost the edge or does it take time to settle into F1 and hence the drop of performance

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