Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel will form an all-German front row at the start of tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix after a rain-hit qualifying session saw Rosberg’s Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton drop out in Q1 when his engine let go in magnificent style.
The Briton was favourite for pole after he headed all three practice sessions, but luck deserted him in the opening moments of Q1 as his brakes failed again moments before the fire engulfed his engine. Hamilton crashed out of qualifying in Hockenheim a week ago when brake failure took care of his chances, and today’s mishap has led to fresh allegations of foul play by fans while his detractors point to a car-breaking record that has haunted him since his McLaren days.
Ferrari didn’t have the excuse of mechanical gremlins to blame for Kimi Raikkonen’s demise as he ended Q1 17th, outclassed by the Marussia of Jules Bianchi after the Scuderia neglected to run the Finn on the faster, softer Pirelli tyre.
Bianchi was unable to improve on 16th place when Daniil Kvyat span his Toro Rosso in the last minutes of Q2 and brought out yellow flags which accounted for the chances of Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean among others. However Adrian Sutil, Esteban Gutierrez and Sauber weren’t too displeased as they ended up with their highest grid slot – 12th – of the year thanks to the German’s efforts, with Gutierrez in 14th close behind.
If that wasn’t enough excitement for the day, rain proceeded to sweep across the track in defiance of forecasts and leave the circuit damp for the start of the vital final qualifying session. All the runners took to the track on soft slicks regardless of the risk, desperate to get a banker lap in in case the rains failed to cease. Rosberg ran wide at turn one as he entered his lap, but the focus rapidly switched to McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen who slammed violently into the barriers after being caught by surprise by the tricky conditions, immediately bringing out the red flags while his car was recovered.
Most drivers elected to run twice once the clouds parted and running resumed, and provisional pole was shared between Valterri Bottas and Nico Rosberg before Sebastian Vettel recovered from a poor first lap to post fastest time and spark premature celebrations among his fans; celebrations swiftly eased when Rosberg bettered his compatriot by 0.4 seconds to take his 10th career pole. Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo will make up the second row, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa just ahead of Jenson Button, Jean Eric Vergne and Nico Hulkenberg. Magnussen starts 10th after failing to put in a time thanks to his crash.
CLASSIFICATION – Qualifying – Hungarian Grand Prix – 26th July 2014