Nico Rosberg’s Hungarian Grand Prix pole under investigation
Rosberg probed having failed to slow for yellow flags that hindered Lewis Hamilton
Nico Rosberg of Germany during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring. Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Nico Rosberg seized pole in a rain-delayed qualifying session for Sunday’s Hungarian F1 Grand Prix but the world championship leader is under investigation after failing to slow for yellow flags that hindered title rival Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg was fastest with a time of one minute 19.965 seconds, quicker than his previous best and set during a lap on which ‘double waved’ yellow flags were shown for Fernando Alonso’s spun McLaren.
Hamilton, ahead of Rosberg and going faster than the German, slowed down and aborted his final lap after finding Alonso’s car sitting sideways and partially across the track.
The rules state that a driver must reduce speed significantly and be prepared to change direction or stop in case of ‘double waved’ yellow flags.
Rosberg and team boss Toto Wolff said he had lifted off the throttle and driven slower through that section of track than on his previous laps.
“For sure there were double waved (flags) but I had a very, very big lift and lost a lot of time as a result,” Rosberg told reporters after qualifying.
“(I) was also slower than on my previous lap in that yellow sector so I’m sure it will be okay.”
Rosberg’s pole, albeit under investigation, is the 26th of his career and his fourth of the season.
Even if he were stripped of it, with Hamilton second Mercedes would still be guaranteed their 46th pole from the last 49 races, with the German outfit starting all but one round this year from the front.
Rosberg, who agreed a two-year extension to his contract with Mercedes on Thursday, leads Hamilton by one point in the championship.
Daniel Ricciardo was third for Red Bull on a weekend when the former champions hope to challenge Mercedes for victory, with his team mate Max Verstappen fourth.
Sebastian Vettel, winner in Hungary last year, was the sole Ferrari driver in the top 10 in fifth. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen was a casualty of the rapidly shuffling order in changing conditions and was only 14th.
McLaren had their best qualifying result since renewing their engine partnership with Honda at the start of last year with Spaniard Alonso and Briton Jenson Button, who both had their first race wins in Hungary, in seventh and eighth.
A torrential rain shower in the build-up to qualifying forced the start of the session to be delayed by 20 minutes.
The opening 18-minute session was then interrupted by four more red flags, first as the rain returned and then as several drivers, including Williams’s Felipe Massa, crashed out.