Sunday, 28 July 2013

Lewis Hamilton Gets Hungary

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Lewis Hamilton gave Mercedes their seventh pole position of the season in Hungary on Saturday after a gripping shoot-out with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, team mate Nico Rosberg and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean - and didn’t even realise that he’d done it until he was completing his slow-down lap.

As the track temperature swung between a sweltering 47 and 49 degrees Celsius, Vettel set the initial Q3 pace with a lap of 1m 19.506s, with Hamilton closest to him on 1m 20.324s, but on their second runs the German only improved slightly, to 1m 19.426s, and that was not quite enough to dislodge Hamilton, who had taken his Mercedes round the Hungaroring in 1m 19.388s.

Behind them, Grosjean’s strong weekend form took him to third place with 1m 19.595s, just ahead of Rosberg on 1m 19.720s. Surprisingly, Fernando Alonso pushed his Ferrari ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus, the Spaniard’s 1m 19.791s just shading the Finn’s 1m 19.851s. Felipe Massa completed the quick runners with 1m 19.929s in the second Ferrari for seventh in the line-up.

Daniel Ricciardo again showed his raw qualifying speed with 1m 20.641s for Toro Rosso, while Sergio Perez lapped his McLaren in 1m 22.398s, the only Q3 runner on medium compound tyres. At the back Red Bull’s Mark Webber was hampered by an inoperative KERS and slow upshifts in his Red Bull, and did just one lap, so that he can start Sunday’s race on whatever tyres he and the team choose from his 10th-place grid slot.

Rosberg and Hamilton had led the way in Q2 as Vettel failed to better his first-run time of 1m 19.442s, and the track temperature spiked at 50 degrees Celsius before settling back to 45 after the first runs. 

A flurry of late improvements by Ricciardo, Webber (despite his RB9’s problems), Massa and Perez pushed Force India’s Adrian Sutil, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Jenson Button out of Q3, the two Germans lapping respectively in 1m 20.569s and 1m 20.580s, the Englishman in 1m 20.777s. Perez had managed 1m 20.545s for the final top 10 slot, a good recovery after having to take repairs following his morning shunt.

The others who failed to go through were Jean-Eric Vergne with 1n 21.029s for Toro Rosso, and the Williams duo of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas on 1m 21.133s and 1m 21.219s.

As Rosberg and Hamilton also set the pace, Q1 had weeded out Esteban Gutierrez, who struggled to make up the time he’d lost by missing FP3 because of a problem that required his Sauber’s engine to be changed. The Mexican lapped in 1m 21.724s, a tenth slower than compatriot Perez who just made it through. 

Paul di Resta struggled yet again with his Force India’s set-up, and was a very disappointed 18th on 1m 22.043s, six-tenths off team mate Sutil. Behind them, the scrap between Caterham and Marussia was closer than ever. 

Charles Pic led it with 1m 23.007s for Caterham, from team mate Giedo van der Garde on 1m 23.333s, but Jules Bianchi was on their tail for Marussia with 1m 23.787s and his partner Max Chilton was only two-tenths of a second further back, with 1m 23.997s.

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