2021 Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying report: Tatics at play as Hamilton storms to pole!

It’s time for Qualifying. Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton had all topped a practice session up to this point, so it was a real toss up on who would get pole. We were promised rain, and like all weather predictions in Formula One, it never came. Instead it was scorching heat with almost clear blue skies.

Pole here is very important, but only time would tell who would get it. Let’s get into the action

Q1

For fans of Mick Schumacher, it was worrying news as his crash in FP3 meant that it looked as though he would miss Q1 as they changed the gearbox.

Carlos Sainz coming very close to an AlphaTauri. Could it be a penalty? Credit:F1

Bottas was the first of the front-runners to set a flying lap and while it was a very solid lap from the Finn, Lewis was next over the line and went 2 tenths faster. But the battle wasn’t over as Max was the last over the line, going a further 2 tenths faster than Lewis.

Perez in the other Red Bull had not had the best of weekends up to this point and on his first run, he was slower than both Gasly in the AlphaTauri and Norris in the McLaren. He was over a second slower than Verstappen.

The Ferrari’s were patient and waited before setting their first flying laps. Sainz put his car on 4th, but he was released in the path of Pierre Gasly. He darted to the inside kerb to avoid, but still likely cost Gasly some time as he would have had to run wide at turn 1.

Leclerc in the other Ferrari was not able to replicate his team-mate’s pace and could only manged 7th, 4 tenths off Sainz.

As the drivers headed out for their final runs, Mr Saturday, George Russell, was in the drop zone and seemed to be in real danger of dropping out. Latifi was a few thousandths behind him. Tsunoda was also in trouble in 16th. After a poor weekend so far, he needed to avoid being eliminated.

Russell had 4 tenths to make up to get into Q2 and it proved too much as he missed out. It is the first time this season he was eliminated in Q1.

Despite Latifi also improving, he couldn’t beat George and would qualify in 18th. With Tsunoda also out, it was good news for Alfa Romeo who got both cars into Q2. A good showing from both Alfa drivers.

Eliminated: Tsunoda (16th), Russell (17th), Latifi (18th), Mazepin (19th), Schumacher (20th).

Q2

As expected both Mercedes and Red Bull cars emerged from the pit lane on Medium tyres. The best strategy is the one-stop and with the soft tyres burning up very quickly, it was important to get these laps perfect.

Sainz providing the drama again, but this time putting himself out of qualifying with a hefty impact. Credit: F1

Interestingly Perez opted for the Medium tyres despite his struggles around this track this weekend. Perez’s lap wasn’t amazing, but he was only 2 tenths off Bottas in 3rd who didn’t have a very good lap.

Lewis drove a blinder and was over 2 tenths faster than Verstappen in 2nd and half a second faster than Bottas.

But now it was the turn of the soft tyre runners. Vettel and Gasly were able to sperate Bottas and Perez from their team-mates, and then Fernando Alonso came out of nowhere to put his Alpine in 2nd.

Ferrari took their time again and Leclerc went faster than Verstappen to put his car in 2nd, however Sainz put his car in the wall at the final corner. This brought out the red flag with 6 minutes to go. Sainz was able to keep the car running but ran over his front wing and was forced to retire.

Bottas and Perez now faced a tough choice. They either sacrifice another set of Medium tyres or use the softs to try to make sure they get through to Q3. Norris and Stroll who showed great pace in Q1 were in the danger zone and would need a big lap to get them through to Q3.

Bottas did choose to run the medium tyres again so there was no room for error for the Finn. He put in a 1:16.7 which would see him comfortably into Q3.

Verstappen switched to the soft tyres and set the fastest lap on the soft tyres which could cause some issues in the race tomorrow.

Perez also switched to the softs and went 4th, behind Norris in 2nd and Gasly in 3rd. Ocon was able to get his first Q3 appearance this season with 9th. Vettel put in a mega lap to push Daniel Ricciardo out of Q2. His Team-mate Lance Stroll could only do as well as 12th.

Eliminated: Ricciardo (11th), Stroll (12th), Raikkonen (13th), Giovinazzi (14th), Sainz (15th).

Q3

It was clear from Q1 and Q2 that the track speed was get much faster so this was going to be very tactical to get the best lap possible.

Gasly put in a great effort to qualify 5th for tomorrow’s race. Credit: AlphaTauri

After the first run of lap, it was Hamilton who put his car on provisional pole. He was half a second faster than Verstappen in 3rd place. But, it was a Mercedes front row with Both red Bull cars behind.

Leclerc was best of the rest in 5th, but only 2 tenths of a second separated Leclerc in 5th and Norris in 9th. Norris used a a set of old soft tyres.

Vettel went out on his own to set his singular lap of the session and it put him in 8th for the time being.

Some strange games were going on between Lewis and Max. Lewis was very slow through the pit-lane and then he was holing him up throughout the out lap. Lewis was in no rush to get on with it, which would have been irritating for the red bull drivers stuck behind.

This meant that Perez could not get over the line in time and was stuck in 4th.

Neither Bottas, Hamilton or Verstappen could not improve their times which locked out the front row for Mercedes.

Gasly did an amazing lap to be best of the rest ahead of Lando Norris in 5th. A great lap for Lando as he got ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

But the race was now setup for Tomorrow. It was going to be very tough race for Red Bull who have a big challenge ahead of them.

Full Classification

Grid Talk Podcast

If you want more reaction to yesterday’s qualifying session, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. Ruby Price hosted Steve Jackson and Tom Downey in their 2021 Hungarian GP qualifying analysis. Audio and video versions of the show are both available below:

Grid Talk Podcast

If you want more reaction to yesterday’s qualifying session, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. Ruby Price hosted Steve Jackson and Tom Downey in their 2021 Hungarian GP qualifying analysis. Audio and video versions of the show are both available below:

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