Mercedes’ incredible dominance in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix came to an end on Saturday, with Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen qualifying in the first and second respectively, followed by Valtteri Bottas.
Under scorching conditions at the Hungaroring, the four-time world champion delivered a sizzling time of 1:16.276 to clinch his second pole of the 2017 season. Under pressure from Lewis Hamilton after seeing his championship lead whittled down to a solitary point, the German was at his clinical best and will be in a good position to extend his lead on Sunday.
As it has become a tradition, hordes of Finnish fans descended upon the Hungaroring and were delighted seeing compatriots Raikkonen and Bottas placed second and third respectively.
Hamilton, in search of a record-equalling 68th pole, was forced to settle for fourth place and after running wide on a number of occasions, can count himself lucky to have made the second row.
Mercedes, which had clinched the last five poles here, were emphatically outperformed by Ferrari in qualifying, for a change. The Silver Arrows enjoy an edge on Saturdays but the Hungaroring is such a circuit where their edge is almost neutralised and the Prancing Horse took full advantage to clinch a one-two in the qualifying.
Red Bull were impressive as the mercury soared with Max Verstappen, who eventually qualified fifth ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, particularly impressive.
There were plenty of surprises in qualifying, with Paul di Resta giving a good account of himself on his first race in over four years. The reserve Wiliams driver, a last-minute inclusion for the indisposed Felipe Massa, finished 19th but the fact that he managed to compete on his first outing in the Williams Mercedes FW40 car.
Apart from Vettel’s pole, the big news of the day was that Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, in their unreliable McLaren, managed to make it to Q3 and will start from 8th and 9th on the grid respectively.
It was a poor outing for Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, however, as they failed to make Q3 and will start from 12th and 14th place respectively.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenbeg put in a good shift and placed ahead of the McLarens in 7th, while Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10 with a decent showing.
The top 10:
1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
7. Nico Hulkenburg Renault
8. Fernando Alonso McLaren
9. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren
10. Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso