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Nico Rosberg will start in pole position at the Hungaroring after a dominant qualifying performance. The Mercedes man will be joined by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel on the front row after Lewis Hamilton suffered qualification heartbreak for the second consecutive week.
The Brit has been quickest around this circuit all weekend, but he picked up a fuel leak and a subsequent fire in the first qualifying session, meaning that he will have to scythe his way through the field if he’s going to get in amongst the leaders for the second consecutive week.
The Mercedes man didn’t set a time either, so he’ll start from the very back of the grid or even in the pit lane. Here’s how Sky Sports F1 reported the incident:
Hamilton was understandably distraught, per BBC Sport:
There's a lot going through my mind, but I just have to try to turn it into positives until tomorrow.
I think it's getting to the point beyond bad luck - it's something else. We just need to do better.
Valtteri Bottas will start in third position in his Williams, while Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo will begin the race directly behind him in fourth. Fernando Alonso had a decent day in his Ferrari and was able to finish fifth, and on the third row with him will be his former teammate Felipe Massa, who will start in sixth in the Williams.
Two-time winner in Hungary Jenson Button will start seventh in his McLaren, while Jean Eric Vergne and Nico Hulkenberg will both be happy with their qualifying performances; they’ll begin in eighth and ninth respectively. Button’s teammate Kevin Magnussen will begin in tenth place.
As for Hamilton, he will be joined on the back row by Pastor Maldonado after the Venezuelan failed to set a time in his Lotus. The Caterham duo of Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi also dropped out, along with Max Chilton in the Marussia.
Jules Bianchi looked to be joining his teammate Chilton by going out at the first time of asking, but he produced a stunning lap to jump up into 16th place with the chequered flag dropped. The man who fell into the drop zone as a result? None other than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
The second qualifying session got underway, and just as a host of the teams were set to start their flying laps towards the end of the session, there was an incident. Daniil Kvyat spun off after putting a wheel on the grass while braking, and the double yellow flags meant the drivers out on track couldn’t finish their hot laps.
Kvyat was one of the men who dropped out as a result, and he’ll start from 11th. Bianchi couldn’t continue his heroics and he will start in 16th place on race day and in front of him will be compatriot Romain Grosjean in his Lotus. Force India’s Sergio Perez will begin in 13th, sandwiched between the Sauber pairing of Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil, who will start in 14th and 12th place respectively.
Just as the the final qualifying shootout was about to begin, it started raining. Subsequently the queues began to form at the end of the pit lane as the drivers did their utmost to get out early and set a lap. But as the rain came hammering down, the drivers were unaware of how little grip there was around some of the corners, particularly into Turn 1.
And as the drivers careered down the hill, it became apparent that none of them had adjusted their braking appropriately. Rosberg ran wide but managed to avoid hitting the wall, but McLaren’s Magnussen was powerless to avoid crashing into the barriers and the session was temporarily red flagged.
On resumption, the rain had stopped and the track was drying out, so timing was going to be crucial. Pole changed hands regularly as the drivers rolled out of the pit lane, with Vettel setting the quickest of the initial laps to take provisional pole.
But Rosberg, just as he’s done so often this season, responded with aplomb. The German driver was too good for the rest of the field as he snaffled pole position from Vettel on his final lap, finishing just under half a second clear of his compatriot.
Rosberg admitted that the pole position felt a little tainted because he couldn't enjoy a battle with his teammate, per BBC Sport:
We need to work on that. That's reliability. I would prefer to be out there battling for Lewis, that would give me the maximum adrenalin rush.
I'm happy but it wasn't a gloves-off battle with Lewis. It takes away a bit of the happiness. Tomorrow will be a challenging race, especially with the weather coming, so it is all to play for.
Rosberg has a superb chance of extending his lead atop of the Drivers' Championship. And although the pole-sitter hasn’t fared too well at Hungary in recent years—winning just three of the last nine grand prix races—it’s a circuit that is somewhat difficult to overtake around.
That’s not good news for Hamilton of course, who’ll have be at this supreme best if he’s to trouble the podium places. He’ll be cursing his misfortune after a spell of rotten luck, but the Brit must be careful and composed, as he’s capable of getting into the top ten and keeping the deficit down to a manageable margin. Rosberg looks like he’ll be extremely difficult to beat around this tight circuit, though.
For full qualifying results click here, courtesy of Formula1.com