Championship leader Nico Rosberg has survived an incident-filled qualifying session to claim pole position – his third on the trot and his sixth of the season – for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel qualified second-fastest, with Valtteri Bottas claiming third.

The German survived a scare in the final phase of qualifying after sliding off track during a brief rain shower, while also being blessed by another qualifying disaster for teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Englishman’s Mercedes caught fire with a fuel leak in Q1, consigning him to a back-of-the-grid start for the 70-lap race.

Lewis Hamilton, 2014 Hungarian GP

A dejected Lewis Hamilton walks away from his flaming Mercedes.

It was Hamilton’s fourth qualifying hiccup on the trot, following a spin in Austria, a strategic miscue at Silverstone and his famous brake failure last weekend at the Hockenheimring. While he was able to tiger through onto the podium from twentieth on the grid last time out, repeating the feat at the Hungaroring will prove to be a much tougher ask on Sunday.

That being said, Hamilton wasn’t the only driver to have a shocker. Also joining him in failing to complete a timed lap in Q1 was Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado, who found his car grinding to a halt at the end of his out-lap. He took no further part and will start from last place.

Managing a limited number of tyre sets through the three qualifying sessions was always going to be a tough ask. The Soft-compound Pirellis were some 1.6 seconds a lap quicker than the alternate Medium compound, and the gamble in Q1 was going to be who could make it through into Q2 without having to run an all-important set of the Softs.

Ferrari, rather inexplicably, took this gamble with Kimi Räikkönen – who’s made the Q3 cut just six times this season – and it rather predictably failed as Jules Bianchi put in a stellar lap in his Marussia to knock the Finn into seventeenth place and out of any further running. Also joining the 2007 World Champion on the sidelines were the two Caterhams and the second Marussia of Max Chilton.

The second phase of qualifying proved to be somewhat more predictable. Sergio Pérez had his session cut short with an hydraulics leak on his Force India, while Daniil Kvyat had a spin into the run-off at Turn 12 in the final seconds of the session, ruining a number of drivers’ final laps as the yellow flags were unfurled. Romain Grosjean a victim of this, qualifying fifteenth-fastest ahead of Bianchi.

There was more drama when Q3 began as spots of rain began to fall, forcing the fastest ten runners to scramble to pit exit for what was possible going to be a one-lap shot at a good qualifying result. All survived their out-laps without drama, but Nico Rosberg was first on the scene at Turn 1 and promptly slid wide, to almost immediately be followed in sympathy by the McLarens of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button.

Magnussen came off worst as he slid headlong into the tyre barriers – fortunately without injury as the tyre wall came very close to his head – while Button managed to scramble back onto the track behind Rosberg.

The session was red-flagged for a few minutes while Magnussen’s battered McLaren was cleared away – marking the fifth high-profile driver to be eliminated in the session – and when the track reopened, conditions had improved enough for everyone to get out and have a go.

Vettel briefly snatched provisional pole on his final flying lap before Rosberg’s last tour proved his best – the German clocked an inch-perfect 1:22.715 to snatch his sixth P1 grid result of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo finished up fourth-fastest – the fourth time this season he’s been outqualified by teammate Vettel – while Fernando Alonso managed to bump Felipe Massa into sixth place on his final flying lap. Jenson Button, Jean-Éric Vergne and Nico Hülkenberg were the final timed runners.

2014 Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Results:

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:22.715 20
2. Sebastian Vettel Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:23.201 + 0.486 16
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:23.354 + 0.639 19
4. Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:23.391 + 0.676 18
5. Fernando Alonso Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:23.909 + 1.194 17
6. Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:24.223 + 1.508 19
7. Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:24.294 + 1.579 21
8. Jean-Éric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:24.720 + 2.005 19
9. Nico Hülkenberg Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:24.775 + 2.060 22
10. Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 no time 13
Q3 Cut-Off: 1:24.647 Time Gap* Laps
11. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:24.706 + 1.396 14
12. Adrian Sutil Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:25.136 + 1.826 12
13. Sergio Pérez Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:25.211 + 1.901 11
14. Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:25.260 + 1.950 10
15. Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 1:25.337 + 2.027 16
16. Jules Bianchi Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:27.419 + 4.109 14
Q2 Cut-Off: 1:26.728 Time Gap** Laps
17. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:26.792 + 1.851 5
18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:27.139 + 2.198 10
19. Max Chilton Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:27.819 + 2.878 7
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:28.643 + 3.702 10
Outside 107% Time Gap** Laps
DNQ. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 no time 2
DNQ. Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 no time 1

* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:23.310 by Nico Rosberg

** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:24.941 by Jean-Eric Vergne

Images via XPB Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.