Eleven races in to the 2011 Formula 1 season, and not a single other team aside from Red Bull Racing has been able to claim pole position. And so Sebastian Vettel once again proved at the Hungaroring, claiming yet another pole – the 23rd of his career – with a scintillating effort ahead of tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The World Champion had been running slower than last weekend’s race-winner Lewis Hamilton as the final phase of qualifying began to wind down, but the German managed to improve his best time on a new set of Pirelli tyres to beat the McLaren driver by 0.163 seconds.
Jenson Button registered his best qualifying result of late with an impressive run to claim third on the grid, while Felipe Massa’s final lap was enough to net him the fourth-fastest time, also marking the first time all season he has been able to out-qualify team-mate Fernando Alonso.
With Mark Webber a disappointed sixth-fastest, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Michael Schumacher completed positions seven to nine, having each opted to save a set of super-soft tyres by attempting only one Q3 run. Sauber driver Sergio Pérez, having made it into the top-ten with a sensational Q2 lap, didn’t bother to go out at all.
The final minutes of Q2 were frenetic, with a host of drivers bolting on the super-soft rubber to have a crack at making it into the final phase of qualifying. Late efforts from Sutil and Schumacher were enough to seem them scrape through, while Paul di Resta just missed out, followed on the grid by Vitaly Petrov, Kamui Kobayashi, Nick Heidfeld, Rubens Barrichello and Jaime Alguersuari.
After bumping Sébastien Buemi out of the Q2 reckoning with his final lap of the session, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado didn’t venture out at all in the second session, perhaps opting to conserve some tyres to use in the race tomorrow, where a three-stop pit strategy is expected to be the norm.
The slower nature of the Hungaroring – along with a raft of technical improvements – certainly made the Lotus outfit more competitive, to the point that Heikki Kovalainen only just fell short of out-pacing Buemi’s Toro Rosso, with the margin between the pair of just 0.3 seconds.
Worse still for the Swiss driver, he will serve a five-place grid penalty for his part in causing the collision with Nick Heidfeld at last weekend’s German Grand Prix.
Despite minor concerns that any combination of Virgin Racing and HRT runners would fail to qualify for Sunday’s 70-lap race, all four drivers comfortably made the Q1 107% cut. Rookie driver Daniel Ricciardo even managed to out-pace the Virgin Racing entry of Jérôme d’Ambrosio.
2011 Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:21.710||1:21.095||1:19.815|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes||1:21.636||1:21.105||1:19.978|
|3.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||1:22.038||1:20.578||1:20.024|
|6.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:22.208||1:20.890||1:20.474|
|7.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:22.996||1:21.243||1:21.098|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes||1:22.237||1:22.000||1:21.445|
|9.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:22.876||1:21.852||1:21.907|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari||1:23.067||1:22.157||no time|
|11.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes||1:22.976||1:22.256|
|13.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari||1:23.278||1:22.435|
|15.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth||1:23.075||1:22.684|
|16.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:23.285||1:22.979|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth||1:23.285||no time|
|18.||Sébastien Buemi*||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:24.070|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus Renault||1:24.362|
|20.||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus Renault||1:24.534|
|21.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:26.294|
|22.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth||1:26.323|
|23.||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT F1 Cosworth||1:26.479|
|24.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:26.510|
|107% CUT-OFF TIME||1:27.288|
* Denotes a 5-place grid penalty stemming from the German Grand Prix.
[Image via LAT]