Lewis Hamilton produced a classic flying lap to take a historic pole position at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, ending Max Verstappen‘s pole streak by just 0.003s.
Sat second after their first runs, Verstappen was unable to improve on his final flying lap while Hamilton did just enough – breaking the record for the most poles at a single circuit with nine.
McLaren locked out the second row of the grid led by Lando Norris confirming their pace at Silverstone wasn’t a fluke while Ferrari and Aston Martin both struggled.
George Russell was the big victim in Q1 getting held up by traffic on his final lap, after he’d set his sights on back-to-back pole positions at the Hungaroring ahead of the weekend.
It’s his lowest start ever at the Hungarian GP, even worse than his three Williams appearances, and he was frustrated with Mercedes for waiting until the last possible moment to send him out for his last run.
Sergio Perez broke his five-race duck of failing to reach Q3 but remained in Verstappen‘s shadow, qualifying ninth and almost half a second behind his teammate.
That was behind Charles Leclerc in sixth and Fernando Alonso in eighth who’ll have to set their sights on a top-five finish as they were off the pace of the front-runners.
But it was a stunning performance by Alfa Romeo who were on it throughout the afternoon, Zhou Guanyu secured fifth and Valtteri Bottas seventh in a scintillating result for the team.
There were more big-name eliminations in Q2 – Carlos Sainz missed out by two-thousandths of a second as his teammate was the driver who pushed him into the drop zone, and Lance Stroll and Alpine missed out after entering the weekend with optimism.
Daniel Ricciardo had a triumphant return to F1 as he qualified 13th – four places ahead of his teammate – and will have an outside shot at points in his first race after being recalled by AlphaTauri.
Verstappen survived a scare in Q2 where he had his first laptime deleted and he was bottom of the timesheets with less than three minutes to go, but was able to improve at the death ending the session third after a cautious banker lap.
Alex Albon missed out on Q2 by just a hundredth of a second while Yuki Tsunoda was only a further 0.002s back, in an extremely tight battle in the first session.
Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant were the other drivers eliminated, a disappointing afternoon for Williams after they lined up eighth and fourteenth at the 2023 British GP.
New qualifying, same results
The new qualifying format did provide an interesting wrinkle in Q1, with teams improving drastically when switching to new hard tyres.
It echoed qualifying at Silverstone, when Magnussen‘s late red flag in Q1 brought a flurry of late improvements on a drying track – but this time that rain wasn’t needed to produce an exciting finale.
Calculating a cut-off time more difficult than usual, and the increased traffic it brought to qualifying could cause further problems at the second trial set for the 2023 Italian GP.
But overall, the change didn’t provide any real shake-up in results – it didn’t prove the difference between Hamilton and Verstappen at the death.
Teams are set to vote on whether to expand the new format after its second test, so the overall lack of impact could encourage teams to back the change that would save 3,680 tyres if implemented across the whole of the 2023 season.