Hungary Pole to Hamilton
By: James Musoke on July 28, 2012 | 9:15 A.M. EST
Lewis Hamilton earned his third pole of the season on Saturday. (Photo: Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton's dominance of the Hungarian Grand Prix continued on Saturday, as the McLaren driver posted the fastest two times of the weekend to earn his third pole position of the season. The Brit looked very competitive through previous practice sessions, and controlled the early stages of qualifying using the hard tire with the rest of his rivals on the softer compound.
As the final round came around, Hamilton set the initial fastest lap with a time of 1.21.260s. With the rest of the field struggling to find a way to knock off the McLaren man, Hamilton sealed the deal on his final flying lap, improving his time to 1.20.953s to claim top spot on the grid and take the 150th pole in McLaren's history.
“I’m really happy!" Hamilton said. "It’s been a really good weekend so far. After Jenson was able to demonstrate the pace of our car in the last Grand Prix, at Hockenheim, now for us to be able to come to Budapest this weekend and be really ‘on it’ is just great.
“We’ve been fine-tuning its setup all weekend. Believe me, as long as we remain fully focused on developing our car, and getting good results, then anything is still possible for us this year. My feeling is that the start of tomorrow’s race will be extremely important. I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to make a clean getaway off the line and then stay ahead while looking after the tires. I’m told that today’s pole position is the 150th in McLaren’s history. That’s a truly fantastic achievement.”
With Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button all battling for the silver prize, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean eventually came the closest to stealing the pole, posting a time of 1.21.366s to slot into second. Vettel, who topped qualifying in Hungary the last two years, had to settle for third on the grid, with Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button producing the fourth fastest time of the session.
“Qualifying was very tight and it was difficult to see where we would end up so on the front row is fantastic,” Grosjean said. “We came here after a difficult weekend at Hockenheim and, to be honest, I didn’t get off to the best start yesterday. We worked hard to improve things overnight and the car felt much better in practice this morning. I’m very happy and just a little bit surprised to be P2 on the grid. Today’s job is done, let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Grosjean's Lotus teammate Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top five, ahead of the Ferrari pair of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in sixth and seventh place, respectively. Next came Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna of Williams who finished in eighth and ninth place, with Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top 10.
Red Bull's Mark Webber, who is second in the championship standings behind Ferrari's Alonso, had a disappointing outing during qualifying, struggling to make it out of the first qualifying segment before getting knocking out in the second. The Australian will start the race in 11th place, ahead of Paul di Resta of Force India who will start in 12th place.
“I was happy with the car this morning,” Webber said. “I was quick in P3, but I didn’t feel happy on that last set of soft tires in Q2 and struggled against my scrub time, which is a bit bizarre. The field is tight at the moment and it’s disappointing to qualify in P11 obviously. Our race pace should be okay tomorrow.”
The Hungarian Grand Prix is set to start at 8:00 a.m. (ET) on Sunday.