Sebastian Vettel takes pole as Lewis Hamilton fails in record bid
British driver was looking to equal Michael Scumacher’s pole record of 68
Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari on track during qualifying for the Hungary Grand Prix at Hungaroring in Budapest. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton fell short in his bid to match Michael Schumacher’s pole record after he qualified a disappointing fourth for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was handed his first chance of matching Schumacher’s tally of 68 poles, but he was nearly half-a-second adrift of championship rival Sebastian Vettel who stormed to the front spot on the grid at the Hungaroring.
Hamilton, with his father Anthony watching on from the back of the Mercedes garage, ran wide at turn four during his first attempt at pole and had to abandon his lap.
It left the Briton with one final go to match Schumacher’s record, but after complaining about vibrations on his car throughout Saturday’s session, he finished a distant 0.431 sec off Vettel’s blistering effort.
To make matters worse for Hamilton and indeed his Mercedes team, Raikkonen pipped Bottas with his final throw of the dice as Ferrari secure their second frontrow lockout of the season.
It was the perfect retort from Vettel, one point ahead of Hamilton in the championship race, after he finished a lowly seventh at the British Grand Prix a fortnight ago following a penultimate-lap puncture.
“It is only Saturday so there is nothing to get from today other than the best position on the grid, but we did that which is great,” Vettel said. “The talk after the last race was a bit too much so it was good to deliver the answer on the track,”
Britain’s Paul di Resta was handed his first taste of grand prix action in almost four years after he was dramatically called up to replace the unwell Felipe Massa on the eve of qualifying.
Indeed Di Resta, the reserve driver for Williams, was told he would be filling in for Massa just 90 minutes before Saturday’s session.
The Scot raced at Force India for three years, and Sunday’s race will be his 59th F1 start, but his 11th hour call-up today marked the first time he had turned a Formula One car’s wheel in anger since the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in 2013.
Di Resta put a string of commendable laps together and qualified last but one, and within eight tenths of a second of Lance Stroll in the sister Williams and 2.6 sec off the pace of the leaders.
It was an impressive effort from Di Resta given his only taste of this year’s faster, more aggressive cars will have been in the team’s simulator at their Oxfordshire base.
Bizarrely Di Resta, 31, had also been due to deputise for pundit Martin Brundle in the Sky Sports commentary box in Hungary. Brundle is absent from this race after he was taken ill moments before the British Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
“Excellent job from Paul di Resta from a standing start in qualifying in Hungary,” Brundle tweeted. “Kept it on the tarmac and a decent lap time. Well done.”
Massa had been given the all-clear to race by the FIA after he was taken to hospital following complaints of dizziness on Friday night. But the Brazilian had to cut short his run in final practice this morning and completed just 12 laps after falling unwell again. He hopes to be fit for the first race after the summer break at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Di Resta’s inclusion means there are three British drivers on the grid this weekend. Jolyon Palmer, who is without a single point to his name this season, qualified 11th.
Palmer’s seat at Renault is under threat, with Robert Kubica, the highly-rated Polish driver who has been absent from the grid since a rallying accident in 2011, to test this year’s Renault here at the Hungaroring next week.
Palmer, 26, will be bumped up one spot on the grid after his Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, who qualified seventh, was penalised five places following a gearbox change.
Fernando Alonso celebrated his 36th birthday with one of his best qualifying performances of what has been a torrid year for both the two-time world champion and his under-performing British team.
Alonso finished eighth ahead of his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in ninth.