Lewis Hamilton has taken his 90th F1 pole position with a new lap record at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Briton’s best time of 1 minute 13.447 seconds beat the previous best by more than a second on a day Mercedes was peerless over a single lap.
Hamilton’s only competition came from teammate Valtteri Bottas, who ran him close but fell just 0.107 seconds short after completing two laps apiece.
This article originally appeared in The Phuket News.
“I have to pinch myself because it doesn’t register,” Hamilton said of his 90th pole. “It’s quite humbling, to be honest.
“Valtteri doesn’t make it easy for me at all, so it requires absolute perfection.
“I’m massively thankful to everyone back home and the guys here who do such an amazing job.”
Together they set Mercedes’s 65th front-row lockout, equalling the record set by Ferrari last year.
“We saw in FP3 it was going to be a close battle with Lewis at least,” Bottas said. “As a team we’re on a really strong level, really far from other teams, which is good for us.”
Racing Point was Mercedes’s closest challenger, but at almost a full second off the pace, the description is relative.
Lance Stroll was the quickest non-Mercedes driver, lapping 0.930 seconds off the pace, the Canadian pipping teammate Sergio Perez by 0.168 seconds to lock out the second row of the grid.
“The car was really strong all the way throughout qualifying — throughout the whole weekend, really,” Stroll said. “We’ve had the pace and it was just about piecing it all together throughout that qualifying session.”
Ferrari took a substantial step forward to qualify fifth and sixth with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc respectively, albeit still behind the Racing Point pair and 1.3 seconds off pole.
It marks the first time both scarlet cars will appear in the top 10 of the grid this season, though the team was fortunate Red Bull Racing has been in exceptionally poor form this weekend.
The best Red Bull Racing could do was seventh with Max Verstappen, and the Dutchman was far from pleased with what he could extract from his RB16. The car has been struggling all weekend, with balance and set-up problems obvious on Friday and gearbox and power unit problems hampering Saturday’s running.
Teammate Alex Albon fared far worse with the precocious machinery, eliminated in a lowly 13th place complaining of severe instability in low-speed corners. He also radioed his team angrily after being knocked out that he’d been released into slow traffic for his crucial final flying lap, though he walked back his frustration after getting out of the car.
McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz qualified eighth and ninth respectively, though Sainz will face a stewards investigation for blocking another car during Q1.
Pierre Gasly completed the top 10 despite not setting a time in Q3 thanks to a terminal problem striking his Honda power unit during Q2.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified 11th for Renault ahead of George Russell in 12th, the Williams driver making his second straight Q2 appearance after first cracking the top 15 last weekend.
Albon followed in 13th ahead of Esteban Ocon in the second Renault and Nicholas Latifi in the sister Williams, marking the Grove team’s first double-Q2 appearance in two years.
Kevin Magnussen will line up 16th after being unable to capitalise on rapidly improving conditions at the end of Q1 as some of the moisture cleared from the air and as more rubber as laid into the circuit.
Despite the time sheet being turned on its head and the entire field scrambling to get back on track, the Dane missed out on making an impact by a slender 0.047 seconds.
He outqualified AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, who will start alongside Romain Grosjean on the penultimate row of the grid.
Antonio Giovinazzi kept Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen at bay at the bottom of the leaderboard in 19th and 20th respectively.