Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix to take his third pole position at the track.
Bright, sunny conditions greeted teams at the start of qualifying with track temperatures already as high as 45C.
The Lotus pair led the times initially but Lewis Hamilton produced a repeat of his pace from practice, setting a string of fastest sectors to end up 0.9s clear of Raikkonen.
With the track clearly improving, everyone bar Hamilton returned to the track to set further times. Only the Lotus drivers joined him in not using the soft tyres, but no-one was able to beat Hamilton’s mark.
The Toro Rosso pair were among the first to return to the track. Jean-Eric Vergne briefly held fourth but team mate Daniel Ricciardo’s best effort was half a second off.
They returned to the pits before the end of the session and that left Ricciardo vulnerable. Red Bull, who had sent their drivers back out on soft tyres, brought them back in once it became clear their position was secure, despite Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel falling to 16th and 17th.
Heikki Kovalainen briefly moved ahead of Kamui Kobayashi but the Sauber driver escaped the drop zone with his final lap, consigning Ricciardo to 18th.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
|18||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’23.250|
|23||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1’25.916|
It was a repeat of Q1 for Hamilton in the second part of qualifying: leave the pits, reel off a sequence of laps no-one could beat, and return to the pits. His best lap of 1’21.060 was over half a second faster than anyone else when he set it and still more than three-tenths quicker once his rivals had done their final runs.
Both Williams drivers were outside the top ten to begin with but their final runs were enough to secure the passage of both cars into Q3. Senna reached the final ten for the first time this year by 18 thousandths of a second.
It came at the expense of Mark Webber. Despite having been quickest in the final practice session, Webber found little improvement towards the end of Q2.
Maldonado ended up third-quickest despite a grassy moment at the exit of turn seven. Michael Schumacher sped through the dust cloud left by the Williams and failed to improve his time, ending up 17th.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|11||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’21.715|
|12||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1’21.813|
|16||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’22.380|
The track temperature had cooled slightly in Q2 but by Q3 it was back up to 45C. That and the dust from Maldonado’s moment in Q2 seemed to inhibit the top ten drivers’ attempts to improve.
Hamilton slid wide on the dust as he went into turn eight on his first effort but was able to continue and set another lap. Raikkonen briefly set the top time but Hamilton took it off him with ease, despite a more cautious run through the middle sector.
The likes of Vettel and the Ferraris did a single run at the end of the session. The Red Bull driver took second while Alonso edged his team mate by 0.056s.
Grosjean came closest to toppling Hamilton with his last run, yet even the Lotus driver fell short by over four tenths of a second. It was enough to pip Vettel for second, however.
Button improved to take fourth but the gap between him and Hamilton was over six tenths on a day when few could get close to the 2008 champion.
Top ten in Q3
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’21.416|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’22.847|
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