Sebastian Vettel’s 9th pole of the season for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix did not come easy. During the final session of Saturday’s knockout qualifying, it looked like it would be Lewis Hamilton breaking through for his first pole position in 2011, up until the very last few seconds, his McLaren was the only car to break in to 1 minute 19 second lap-times. That time stood up to everyone until the very last lap of the session, where Sebastian pulled off a near perfect drive around the high downforce track, while Hamilton, who won his 2nd race of the year last week in Germany, made a couple minor errors on his final lap, meaning Vettel’s time won the pole for the German driver. Lewis will still be in the front row, where he could pull off another great drag start similar to his move last week beating Mark Webber to the first turn. Hamilton’s McLaren team mate Jenson Button also had one of his better qualifying sessions in quite some time by grabbing the 3rd spot.
Another Sleepless Night
Vettel and the Red Bull team saw that the McLarens have made major improvements in Friday practice, so the team pulled and all-nighter with their car, “The McLarens were very quick, so we’ve done the right thing and I felt much more comfortable this morning. Q1 and Q2 was about getting through to the last session and I’m very pleased with the result. We changed a lot on the car overnight and the boys were working pretty hard and didn’t get much sleep, but I think if we have a result like this it’s the best way to say thanks, so I’m very happy”
Happy Sebastian might be, but his team mate Mark Webber can not be very happy, he will start from way back in 6th place, after yet again running into KERS issues with his Red Bull. Mark has had just an unbelievable amount of difficulty with the KERS system on his car, while Vettel seems to sail through every race, with very little trouble from the KERS on his car. This grid position on the dirty side of Row 3 will be Webber’s worst starting spot in 2011.
Sound like Christian Horner might have yet another sleepless night in his future, guiding his team through yet another KERS powered issue for the Red Bull team, hard on the crew, and even harder on the guy trying to explain to Webber that he is not getting unfair treatment in favor of Vettel, “Unfortunately Mark picked up a KERS issue in Q2; it came available again in Q3, but it hampered his preparation. Nonetheless we know Mark’s a great racer and I’m sure he’ll make good progress from there in tomorrow’s race.”
In the Fight for a Win
Hamilton on the other hand, is once again in a position he likes to be in, attacking from behind, and a threat to slash into the lead off the grid. Getting to the first turn in first has been a speciality for both of these drivers, which should make Sunday’s start of great interest. You know Lewis thinks he is up to the task at hand, “But the points aren’t given out for today, and I’m feeling good about tomorrow. I’m very excited about the race, in fact, because we had quite a good long run yesterday and we’ll work hard to build on that pace overnight and take it into tomorrow. We’re in the fight – and, with a good start, we can definitely challenge for the win.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, though clearly disappointed Lewis had not scored the pole, was still pleased with the team’s performance, “Lewis ran a little wide in the final turn on his last attempt to take pole position, but his was a good lap all the same and he’ll start from the front row tomorrow. Jenson qualified well too, ending up just behind Lewis in P3 – which will put him on the clean side of the grid.”
No Walk in the Park
The big news from the Ferrari side of the pit was that Felipe Massa actually out qualified team mate Fernando Alonso, but that should not be all that satisfying, since they are both behind two McLaren’s and one Red Bull at a track where it is nearly impossible to achieve any serious overtaking. This of course makes a good start for Ferrari ultra important, and also means that pit stops and tire management may become the best strategy for the Scuderia.
Ferrari wizard Pat Fry is expecting a tough day ahead, “However, tomorrow will be a very tight race, partly because I expect to see a lot of tyre changes. We will have to be careful when choosing the right moment for the pit stops, especially as overtaking on track will not be a walk in the park for anyone, even with DRS. We will try to do our best, aware of the strengths of our main rivals.”
Meet the New Boss?
With Vettel once again pulling out a perfect lap at the right moment, the message is clear, “I am still the boss around here.” Vettel is way too smart to ever actually say such a thing, and his rival Lewis seems to be finally remembering his Dad’s advice of doing his talking with actions on track. Hopefully we have the makings of a classic battle here, a delicious back and forth duel between the 2 superstars of the sport on the menu for Formula One fans. The best move for Lewis is clear, to seize the chance for the lead off the start, or he may see Vettel sailing off in to the distance once more. Vettel has shown a chink or two lately, but his message may not get through to Hamilton. No surprise if it is indeed Sebastian who wins, but the gut says Lewis is getting a little hot streak going.
Hungarian GP – Saturday – Qualifying Session Results
POS DRIVER NATIONALITY ENTRANT TIME
1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1:19.815
2. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.978
3. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.024
4. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 1:20.350
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari 1:20.365
6. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1:20.474
7. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes GP 1:21.098
8. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1:21.445
9. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes GP 1:21.907
10. Sergio Perez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari No Time
11. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes 1:22.256
12. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault 1:22.284
13. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.435
14. Nick Heidfeld Germany Renault 1:22.470
15. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Williams-Cosworth 1:22.684
16. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.979
17. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Cosworth No Time
18. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:24.070
19. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Lotus-Renault 1:24.362
20. Jarno Trulli Italy Lotus-Renault 1:24.534
21. Timo Glock Germany Virgin-Cosworth 1:26.294
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy HRT-Cosworth 1:26.323
23. Daniel Ricciardo Australia HRT-Cosworth 1:26.479
24. Jerome d’Ambrosio Belgium Virgin-Cosworth 1:26.510