Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying report – Verstappen takes first pole to head Mercedes duo

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took a long overdue first pole position of his career and will line up ahead of the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton on the grid for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix – the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel next quickest.

A best effort of 1m14.572s meant that the German Grand Prix winner edged out Bottas by 0.018s with Hamilton 0.779s behind his teammate. Pierre Gasly was sixth quickest in the second Red Bull from the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen rounding off the top ten.

“It feels good but the whole weekend the car was very competitive,” Verstappen told BBC Sport afterward. “It’s always a question how it will work out in qualifying where we know (Mercedes) can turn up a bit more power. But the car was incredible, it was really enjoyable to drive.

“To get your first pole is very nice but what happens on Sunday is what counts. I knew it was a matter of time. I made mistakes as well to miss a pole shot. And today we finally got it.”

It was a dramatic qualifying session for Leclerc, whose spin in Q1 resulted in slight damage to his rear wing. But the Ferrari mechanics did brilliantly to replace the wing and get him out again in time to progress for the rest of qualifying.

Further down the field, it was a superb effort from George Russell, who almost dragged his Williams into Q2 for the first time this season. The Englishman eclipsed the times of both Racing Point drivers and the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, the upgrades introduced for Germany seemingly paying dividends.

“I am ecstatic with qualifying,” said Russell. “We have really turned the page this weekend with our update and understanding the tyres. It was a shame to miss out on Q2 but considering everything, we are over the moon. I felt comfortable inside the car, probably the happiest that I have been all year. It was a joy to drive and I’m really pleased with the lap. Regardless of tomorrow, we will enter the summer break on a positive note, knowing that we achieved this result on merit.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.