Hungary Qualifying Report: Rosberg Snatches Pole on Drying Track

Nico Rosberg snatched pole from Lewis Hamilton in the final seconds of Q3. Hamilton was on to improve his lap but for a spinning Fernando Alonso up ahead. This meant Hamilton had to abandon the lap, as did the train of cars following. But by the time Rosberg got to sector-2, the yellow flags had gone, giving the German a rare chance to out-qualify Lewis – and the German converted it.

The Mercedes lead the Red Bulls as expected, with Vettel in 5th. Carlos Sainz had a brilliant session and starts 6th.

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have put themselves in a position to score valuable points in the race tomorrow, this Q3 session the first to include both McLaren’s since the Brazilian GP in 2014.

Q2 was an adrenaline fueled rush as cars positioned themselves desperately on a drying track. The biggest losers in that session were Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Force India’s Sergio Perez. Both drivers were caught out by the drying surface and improved times of others. Kimi was first across the line for the final qualifying lap and went top, but his time dropped down the order with every passing car behind him. He starts a disappointing 14th. Perez was caught out by exactly the same thing and starts 13th. But at least Kimi’s Hungarian fans were out in force!

In Q1, there were four red flags, one for a downpour that brought an end to the session just as it started. Then Marcus Ericsson lost control of his Sauber and shunted an advertising barrier. The Swede couldn’t get going again so starts towards the back in 20th. His team-mate, Felipe Nasr was the star of Q1, the Brazilian almost immediate in his feel for the wet track. He hovered around the top but ultimately fell back as the track dried for Q2. He starts 16th.

Another spinner in Q1 was Felipe Massa, his Williams losing control as the Brazilian sniffed racing lines on Intermediates. His crash was a bit more dramatic as he ruined the front of the car. Massa starts the race tomorrow in 18th.

The big losers of Q1 were Renault, who were showing flashes of pace in the wet. Palmer was on a lap that would have seen him get into Q2 before the red flag was brought out again for the crashed Manor of Rio Haryanto.

So Rosberg could be leading Hamilton into turn one if he nails the start, but the Silver Arrowsa will be wary of the Red Bulls, both of which possess drivers with race-craft and hunger to match the Mercedes pair. McLaren have a point to prove and it’s their points to lose from today. It will also be interesting to see if Perez and Raikkonen can make a charge through the midfield.