Lewis Hamilton ignoring the jeers as he hunts Max Verstappen in F1 title race

Mercedes driver grabs pole in Hungary as he hunts down landmark 100th win

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes  in action during final qualifying for the Hungary Grand Prix  at Hungaroring. Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in action during final qualifying for the Hungary Grand Prix at Hungaroring. Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images

 

Lewis Hamilton has told Max Verstappen’s fans that he is fuelled by their boos after he secured a crucial pole position for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Verstappen qualified only third, four tenths back, with Valtteri Bottas joining his Mercedes team-mate on the front row.

Moments after claiming his first pole in almost three months, Hamilton was subjected to a chorus of jeers as he attempted to conduct his post-qualifying interview.

Indeed, the boos were so loud, that Hamilton was forced to lean in to hear Johnny Herbert’s question, as the former Formula One driver pleaded with Max Verstappen’s supporters to stop.

“Enough of that, enough of that,” he implored.

As the jeers slowly began to fizzle out, Hamilton said: “I appreciate the great support I’ve had here. I’ve never actually felt so great with the booing. If anything, it just fuels me so I don’t really mind it.”

A fortnight on from Hamilton’s 180mph collision with Verstappen on the first lap of the British Grand Prix, around 10,000 Dutch fans have made the journey across Europe to the Hungaroring, a dozen miles outside of Budapest.

They are creating a hostile reception for Hamilton.

One banner read: “Sir Cheat: Karma is on its way”, in reference to Hamilton’s 10-second penalty for his collision with Verstappen at Silverstone.

There was also another poster of Hamilton mocked up as a crying baby in his Mercedes overalls.

With an air temperature of 30 degrees, and a track surface double that, Verstappen then lost his cool by swearing in the official FIA press conference.

Both Hamilton and Verstappen were asked by the moderator what will happen if they end up wheel-to-wheel at the start of Sunday’s 70-lap race.

“Can we just stop this,” said a furious Verstappen. “We have had so many f*****g questions about this that it is ridiculous.

“On Thursday we answered this stupid shit all the time so can we just stop it, please?”

The Haas F1 car of Mick Schumacher is removed from the track after a crash during final practice at the Hungaroring. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
The Haas F1 car of Mick Schumacher is removed from the track after a crash during final practice at the Hungaroring. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Verstappen escaped sanction from the FIA, but it is understood the Dutchman will be reported if he repeats his foul-mouthed outburst.

As Verstappen went on the offensive Hamilton smirked. Perhaps he sensed that his rival, who led the championship by 33 points before the British Grand Prix is rattled.

Hamilton, now eight points behind, will head into the summer break leading the championship if he wins, and Verstappen fails to improve on third.

Attentions then returned to the booing.

“People have a right,” said Hamilton. “This is sport and fans act wildly. It is competition and I don’t take it to heart. In the end, I must be doing something right to be up the front.”

Verstappen added: “I was in the garage so I didn’t pay attention to what was outside.

“What do you want me to say? It is not correct of course. But we are drivers and we shouldn’t get disturbed by these kind of things.

“Luckily we wear helmets when we are driving so it is different to other sports. It is not nice but it shouldn’t influence any of us. We are professional and we know what we have to do on track.”

It was then left to Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas to address the crowd.

“We are here as athletes to give everything we have for the sport we love and Lewis did an amazing lap but then you get booing,” the Finn said.

“The people should question themselves. It is not right, it is not fair, I don’t understand it, and we don’t want to see these kind of things.”

Hamilton is the master of the Hungaroring. This was his eighth pole here – one more than Michael Schumacher – and on Sunday he will bid to become the first man to win at the same venue on nine occasions. He could also secure a landmark 100th victory.

Verstappen will start Sunday’s race on the softest rubber. Hamilton will be on the slower, but more durable medium, tyre, putting him at a disadvantage when the lights go out.

“With everything going on around us we are staying focused so I am really proud of everyone,” Hamilton added.

“I don’t know what win number 100 would mean. We have not even completed half the job.

“Tomorrow is a long race, we don’t know what the weather is like around us, it is such a challenging circuit and the whole top four will not be easy to beat. We have a long run down to turn one so it should be an exciting race.”

Mick Schumacher was unable to take part in qualifying after he crashed out of final practice.

The German, 22, lost control of his Haas through the right-hander turn 11 and slammed into the tyre wall.

Schumacher was winded in the accident and taken to the medical centre for precautionary checks following the high-speed impact which registered at more than 30G.

But despite being given the all-clear, the significant damage sustained to his machine left Schumacher as a bystander for qualifying. He will start last on Sunday.

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