Mercedes’ George Russell surprises the F1 field with a pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix

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It’s taken 13 Grands Prix this season but eight-time defending constructors’ champions Mercedes are back on top in Formula 1 qualifying.

Mercedes’ Silver Arrows struggled in practice on Friday as they conducted further set-up experiments to figure out their W13, but on Saturday afternoon in Hungary a beaming George Russell was celebrating the first pole of his career.

“For us as a team, it’s huge,” Russell said. “Yesterday was probably our toughest Friday of the season, we were all here late scratching our heads, morale was pretty low and we felt pretty lost.

“To come back and get pole 24 hours later is such a feeling. I know what we went through last night. It was a disastrous day, we think there were many reasons for that, they went added to take more than a second off the pace. There are no points for qualifying but I guess considering this result for all of us is pretty huge.

Russell was renowned at Williams for executing strong qualifying laps in inferior machines, including last year in Belgium and Russia, where he trailed the ninth-best car to second and third place on the grid respectively by time. mixed. This year has been more difficult, with Mercedes often stuck in no man’s land between leaders and midfield. But on Saturday all the stars aligned.

“We nailed 100% today and made the most of it,” Russell said.

“It’s clear we’ve had a tough season as a team, qualifying has been one of my strengths historically, this year I struggled a bit, I always liked it here [in Hungary] and been quick here. I knew if the car and I were working together, there was no reason we couldn’t achieve great things. It’s a big day for us. »

Russell will be joined in the front row of the grid by Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, who called his Q3 lap “nothing special”, while 2022 pole king Charles Leclerc was an atypically subdued third, admitting that he “struggled massively” with tires in the final shootout.

hungarian f1 grand prix qualifying
George Russell races to his first career pole on Saturday in Hungary.

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It was nonetheless a bittersweet day for Mercedes. and a very bad one for Red Bull Racing.

Lewis Hamilton, who has a supreme record around the tight and twisty Hungaroring, will only start seventh after suffering a DRS problem at the end of Q3.

“It’s huge for the team, we don’t know where the pace is coming from all of a sudden, it came out of nowhere, that’s a huge positive,” he said. “I will do what I can tomorrow to support him, he should be able to win from this position at this track, and I will try to improve.”

World champion Max Verstappen, who leads by 63 points, will line up only 10th, with his teammate Sergio Perez 11th.

Verstappen locked up on his first lap pushed in Q3, leaving him only seventh, before a power unit problem surfaced as he prepared for his final hot lap.

Verstappen was relegated to the bottom of the top 10, unable to set another competitive time, and will enter damage limitation mode on Sunday.

“I just had no power coming out of the pit lane in that last race,” he said. “The engine was revving but there was no loosening, and it’s painful.

“[The race is] It’s going to be a bit hard for me but anything is possible. I think a lot of Sundays have already shown it this year, but around here it’s hard to pass. We will remain patient and see what happens.

F1 Hungarian Grand Prix

Qualifying results

  1. George Russell, Mercedes
  2. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
  3. Charles Leclerc Ferrari
  4. Lando Norris, McLaren
  5. Esteban Ocon, Alpine
  6. Fernando Alonso, Alpine
  7. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
  8. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
  9. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
  10. Max VerstappenRed Bull
  11. Sergio Perez, Red Bull
  12. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo
  13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
  14. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
  15. Mick SchumacherHaas
  16. Yuki Tsunoda, Alfa Tauri
  17. Alex Albon Williams
  18. Sebastien Vettel, Aston Martin
  19. Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri
  20. Nicholas Latifi, Williams

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