Nico Rosberg stormed to his sixth pole position of the season at the Hungaroring as an engine fire wrecked Lewis Hamilton’s chances on his first lap out of the Mercedes garage. The Briton will start the race from the back of the grid.
Joining Rosberg on the front row will be Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas third ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull.The session was barely five minutes old when Hamilton – exiting Turn 13 on his out lap – radioed his pit wall that he had a fire on board his W05. With the back end of the car engulfed in flames the Briton eventually pulled over at the edge of the pit lane entrance where his car was surrounded by marshals who quickly extinguished the blaze. Mercedes later reported that a fuel leak led to a fire in the engine.
Also extinguished were Hamilton’s hopes of a fifth pole position at the Hungaroring, The Mercedes driver will start from the back of the grid.
He will be joined there by Pastor Maldonado. The Lotus driver also failed to set a time during the session, locking up at Turn Five on his out lap out and soon after grinding to a halt at turn 13.
There was more drama at the end of Q1 as Jules Bianchi put in a great lap to demote Kimi Raikkonen to 17th. Ferrari had been trying to get the Finn through the Q2 without resorting to the soft Pirelli tyres but the Finn’s medium-tyre best time of 1:26.792 was not good enough to make it through and he lost out on a Q2 berth by just over six hundredths of a second.
A number of drivers did make it through on medium tyres with Rosberg, the Red Bulls, both Williams driver, both McLarens and Alonso all saving a set of soft tyres and progressing to the next segment.
Also eliminated in the session, in order behind Raikkonen, Kamui Kobayashi, Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson.
At the top of the Q1 order was Jean-Eric Vergne who set an impressive 1:24.941 on the soft tyre to finish ahead of Rosberg and Vergne’s Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat.
Q2 was less incident-packed, with Rosberg easing through to Q3 in P1 ahead of Vettel, Ricciardo and Bottas.
In the drop zone, however, was Nico Hulkenberg, the only remaining Force India following Sergio Perez’s early exit from the session with a hydraulic problem. With Daniil Kvyat in 10th place and three tenths ahead as the final runs began, Hulkenberg looked to be in trouble.
The German delivered a lap of 1:24.647 to dislodge the young Russian but the Force India driver still did not look secure as Kvyat set personal best times through the opening two sectors. However, Kvyat erred late in his lap, losing control under braking into Turn 12 and sliding off circuit. The spin left him in 11th, ahead of Adrian Sutil, Perez, Esteban Gutierrez, Romain Grosjean and Bianchi.
As the teams readied their cars for the start of the top-10 shootout, rain began to fall in the pit lane.
Teams rushed to get in a banker but the result was that Rosberg went wide at Turn One on his first run as he ran out of grip and moments later Magnussen lost control in the same spot.
While Rosberg carried on, the outcome was worse for the young Dane, however, as he went straight on at the corner and slammed into the tyre barriers at high speed. He was unharmed and soon out of the wrecked car but the session had to be red-flagged as the tyre barrier was rebuilt.
When the session re-started Rosberg seized control, setting a first-run benchmark of 1:23.236 ahead of Vettel and Bottas. The gap to the champion was only two tenths, however. Bottas improved with his final run, jumping into second place with a final lap of 1m23.354s, just 0.118s shy of Rosberg’s time.
Vettel, though, went one better, claiming provisional pole with a time 0.035s ahead of Rosberg’s.
There was no hint of celebration, however, as Rosberg was flying on his final lap. He was 0.2s up after the first sector and he continued to find time across the lap, eventually claiming his sixth pole of the year with a lap of 1:22.715, just under half a second clear of Vettel.
With Bottas third, four hundredths ahead of Ricciardo, fifth place went to Fernando Alonso. Felipe Massa was sixth in the second Williams, ahead of Button and Vergne. The final top-10 places went to Hulkenberg and the unfortunate Magnussen.
Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.227 1:23.310 1:22.715 20
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:25.662 1:23.606 1:23.201 16
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.690 1:23.776 1:23.354 19
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:25.495 1:23.676 1:23.391 18
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:26.087 1:24.249 1:23.909 17
6 Felipe Massa Williams 1:26.592 1:24.030 1:24.223 19
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:26.612 1:24.502 1:24.294 21
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:24.941 1:24.637 1:24.720 19
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:26.149 1:24.647 1:24.775 22
10 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:26.578 1:24.585 13
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:25.361 1:24.706 14
12 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:26.027 1:25.136 12
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:25.910 1:25.211 11
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:25.709 1:25.260 10
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:26.136 1:25.337 16
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:26.728 1:27.419 14
17 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:26.792 5
18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:27.139 10
19 Max Chilton Marussia 1:27.819 7
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:28.643 10
21 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time 2
22 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault No time 1