Hungarian F1 Grand Prix 2018 Qualifying: Saturday's Results, Times, Final Grid

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2018

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 28:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 leads Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 28, 2018 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
Charles Coates/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix after topping qualifying at the Hungaroring in Mogyorod on Saturday. Valtteri Bottas made it a one-two for the Silver Arrows by outqualifying Ferrari pair Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel after a dramatic and rain-soaked Q3 session.

Vettel had begun the day by winning the third and final practice run, before finishing fastest in Q1 and Q2. However, a heavy downpour evened the playing field for Mercedes, who couldn't keep pace with Ferrari cars in dry conditions.

Hamilton was one of the few drivers thankful for the rain:

Qualifying

Hamilton began with intermediate tyres as drivers sought to make the most of early laps with heavy rain anticipated. Not wanting Mercedes to gain any advantage, Raikkonen kept Ferrari represented at the front:

Even amid thunder and lightning, Vettel seemed undeterred by the conditions:

The winner of P3 soon set the fastest time at one minute and 25.1 seconds, as Ferrari's vehicles quickly reasserted themselves. 

There was still no rain, so plenty had taken the opportunity to switch to slicks, with Renault's Carlos Sainz setting the pace with the ultrasoft tyres. By contrast, the big teams had waited to switch. It was a decision that put some of the marquee drivers, including Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo, at risk:

Ricciardo was the last to change over, going to the soft tyres rather than the ultrasofts. Yet he managed to make it through to Q2 after finishing 12th-fastest.

Vettel was still at the top, though, as Ferrari's car proved too good to be hampered by the team's guessing games with the rain and tyres:

With rain still coming and going, Vettel started Q2 on the intermediates, As the rain picked up, other drivers were forced to return to the pits to switch out the ultrasoft tyres, leaving Vettel on his own to get a lap in:

It proved a crucial advantage as the rain persisted and forced changes to wets. The switch did nothing to prevent Vettel remaining the fastest on the track:

Driving rain couldn't prevent Hamilton from finally reasserting himself, as he clocked a lap seven-tenths of a second quicker than Raikkonen and a full second ahead of Vettel.

Raikkonen went back on top to continue Ferrari's fine day, but ultimately it was Hamilton and Mercedes who took full advantage of the rain to snatch pole from team-mate Bottas at the death after the latter had briefly proved quicker than Raikkonen.

FP3

Here are the full times:

Earlier, things looked good for Ferrari, with both Vettel and Raikkonen laying down markers by showing off the speed of their cars.

The latter went first and soon set the early pace:

However, Vettel proved even quicker once he'd taken to the track. In the process, he let Mercedes know they still had a lot to do to match the speed of the Ferrari:

Bottas worked hard to up the pace, but Mercedes' problems were more evident for Hamilton. The championship leader complained about vibrations from the brakes and struggled to settle.

Hamilton was forced wide at the ninth turn, leaving him nine tenths off Vettel on a track the German loves:

Behind Hamilton, Red Bull duo Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were on track, with the former trying to cut it loose on the ultrasofts. Meanwhile, Verstappen wasn't quite as swift on the soft tyres.

Ricciardo's task was made more difficult when he narrowly escaped a collision with Haas F1's Kevin Magnussen:

At the front, Bottas briefly set a new track record, before he and Hamilton both took a spin off track after problems at turn six:

The issue was compounded by Vettel topping Bottas' record lap when he switched to the ultrasofts:

It put Vettel back in charge of P3, and it was an advantage he didn't lose. Later, pole position seemed his to lose until the rain, along with Hamilton's resilience, took over.

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