Tag Archive | Hungarian Grand Prix

Hamilton on pole yet again in Hungary

Hamilton took his 9th pole position of 2015 in Hungary (Image: Mercedes AMG)

Hamilton took his 9th pole position of 2015 in Hungary (Image: Mercedes AMG)

Hamilton’s incredible run of pole positions continued as the reigning World Champion topped qualifying for tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton now has nine pole positions out of ten races in 2015, and five poles in a row. Nico Rosberg completed the front row of the grid for Mercedes, the fifth race in a row that has happened.

Who can beat Hamilton to pole? So far only Nico Rosberg has done so this year, and on only one occasion. The rest of the season, Hamilton has seemed untouchable. In qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Hamilton lapped over half a second faster than team-mate Rosberg, which is a massive margin in equal equipment. Rosberg didn’t seem to be able to put together a clean lap, perhaps a sign of how hard he is having to push to catch Hamilton.

Hamilton’s five poles in a row equals the most consecutive pole positions by a driver currently racing in Formula 1. Fernando Alonso achieved the feat in 2006 and Sebastian Vettel has done it twice – in 2010-11 and again later in 2011. Hamilton still has a way to go to beat Ayrton Senna’s astonishing record of eight successive pole positions, set in 1988-89, but it is certainly possible that Hamilton might dethrone Senna a bit later in 2015.

In a sport as competitive as Formula 1, any small advantage can be the difference between winning and coming second. Pole position provides at least two such advantages – pole position is generally on the “cleaner”, more grippy side of the track, which makes for a better start to the race than second place; the pole-sitter also controls the pace of the warm-up lap, which allows him to maximise the preparation of his own car for the start of the race. Pole position is definitely the place to be at the start of a Grand Prix.

Tomorrow, Hamilton will start from pole position for the ninth time this season. For the ninth race in 2015, he will have the advantages that make his race start a little bit easier and therefore potentially faster. And the Hungaroring, where the race is taking place, is a track at which overtaking is notoriously difficult. It’s not quite as simple as Hamilton needing to just make a clean start to win the race, but it’s not far off that. If Rosberg can pass Hamilton on track, it will be an impressive move indeed.

Once again, Hamilton has set himself up to have the best chance of victory in a Grand Prix. That’s just one of the many reasons he’s currently the man to beat in Formula 1.

Grosjean’s Hungarian GP ruined by the stewards

Romain Grosjean in action for Lotus at the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix (Andrew Ferraro/Lotus F1 Team)

Romain Grosjean in action for Lotus at the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix (Andrew Ferraro/Lotus F1 Team)

Romain Grosjean’s Hungarian Grand Prix was effectively ruined by a drive-through penalty for “exceeding track limits” when he passed Felipe Massa around the outside of turn 4. It was a superb move, displaying the level of skill worthy of a top F1 driver. But the stewards deemed it illegal and Grosjean had to drive through the pits at 80km/h as a result.

Grosjean got a good run on Massa on the outside leading up to turn 4, held his nerve to attack round the outside, made the pass and ran a couple of centimetres off the track on the exit of the corner. The pass was done by that point. He certainly did not need to run off the track to make the move stick. If anything, he needed to give Massa a little bit of space, as the Ferrari was always going to drift towards him.

The rules are that the white lines mark the limits of the track and the drivers are required to keep at least one wheel within those lines at all times. So from that perspective, Grosjean could be penalised. But then the stewards should have been looking at all of the other instances of drivers running wide at a number of corners on the race track. It wasn’t just Grosjean. It was all of the drivers.

The penalty showed a total lack of consistency from the stewards. It was unnecessary and unjustified and cost him a potential podium finish. Such a shame, as he was having a brilliant race.

Of course, Grosjean was involved in another incident, when he drove into Jenson Button, where a penalty was absolutely justified. The stewards decided that one had to be investigated after the race, and when they got around to it they added 20 seconds to his race time. He was more than 20 seconds ahead of Jenson Button at the end of the race, and therefore the penalty had no effect whatsoever.

Here’s a video analysing the two incidents (Apologies for the poor sound):

Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying Results

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 10 Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.363 1:19.862 1:19.388 15
2 1 Vettel Red Bull 1:20.646 1:19.992 1:19.426 12
3 8 Grosjean Lotus 1:20.447 1:20.101 1:19.595 15
4 9 Rosberg Mercedes 1:20.350 1:19.778 1:19.720 16
5 3 Alonso Ferrari 1:20.652 1:20.183 1:19.791 15
6 7 Raikkonen Lotus 1:20.867 1:20.243 1:19.851 17
7 4 Massa Ferrari 1:21.004 1:20.460 1:19.929 15
8 19 Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:21.181 1:20.527 1:20.641 14
9 6 Perez McLaren 1:21.612 1:20.545 1:22.398 16
10 2 Webber Red Bull 1:21.264 1:20.503 No time 13
11 15 Sutil Force India 1:21.471 1:20.569 17
12 11 Hulkenberg Sauber 1:21.028 1:20.580 13
13 5 Button McLaren 1:21.131 1:20.777 10
14 18 Vergne Toro Rosso 1:21.345 1:21.029 12
15 16 Maldonado Williams 1:20.816 1:21.133 15
16 17 Bottas Williams 1:21.135 1:21.219 13
17 12 Gutierrez Sauber 1:21.724 11
18 14 Di Resta Force India 1:22.043 11
19 20 Pic Caterham 1:23.007 8
20 21 Van der Garde Caterham 1:23.333 7
21 22 Bianchi Marussia 1:23.787 8
22 23 Chilton Marussia 1:23.997 8
Q1 107% Time 1:25.974

Pole position battle brews in Hungary

Romain Grosjean will be aiming for his first F1 pole position in Hungary (Charles Coates/Lotus F1 Team)

Romain Grosjean will be aiming for his first F1 pole position in Hungary (Charles Coates/Lotus F1 Team)

With just over an hour to go to qualifying at the Hungaroring, there is no clear favourite for pole position. That’s quite unusual for 2013, a season in which all of the 9 pole positions so far have been taken by Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton (evenly shared with 3 each).

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber set the pace on Friday for Red Bull, but did not feature at the front in FP3 this morning. That in itself is not an indication of a lack of pace – they could simply have been running more fuel than their rivals – but it does raise the question: have they sacrificed qualifying pace in favour of race pace, perhaps assuming qualifying supremacy beyond what is realistic?

In FP3, Romain Grosjean topped the times with the fastest lap of the weekend so far, 1:20.730, half a second quicker than Vettel went yesterday. Grosjean is looking perhaps a little bit quicker than team-mate Kimi Raikkonen this weekend, at least on short runs. Raikkonen’s strength this season has been his race pace, which is quite difficult to gauge in practice. Lotus are, nonetheless, in the hunt for pole position. Grosjean has never had a pole position in F1, and Raikkonen has yet to top qualifying since he returned to the sport at the start of 2012. Can they break those two ducks today?

Ferrari are also looking quick. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have both been within a few tenths of the front-runners throughout the weekend. Massa did not appear to get the maximum out of his Ferrari in FP3, but Alonso was on top of his car as ever. He set the second fastest time in FP3, just 0.168 seconds behind Grosjean, and will be looking to carry that speed into this afternoon’s qualifying session.

The big question mark for qualifying is over Mercedes. Both drivers struggled in Friday practice, but Lewis Hamilton seemed to have rediscovered his confidence this morning after some overnight setup changes. He set the quickest time in FP3 on medium tyres, but could not hold onto the top spot when the soft tyres went on. Could Mercedes have been hiding more pace in Hamilton’s car? He went just 8 tenths quicker on the soft tyres, while those around him improved by over a second in many cases. It could be that Mercedes know they have found some speed in Hamilton’s car, but they are choosing to hide it until it counts in this afternoon’s qualifying session.

A pole-sitter from any team other than Red Bull, Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes would be a massive surprise. The top four teams are sufficiently far ahead of the rest to be quite sure of front-row dominance. But it is close at the front. Any one of the 8 drivers from the top four teams could be on pole in Hungary.

Hungarian Grand Prix – FP3 results

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:20.730 20
2 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:20.898 0.168 13
3 6 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:21.052 0.322 10
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:21.125 0.395 27
5 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:21.151 0.421 14
6 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.158 0.428 19
7 2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:21.254 0.524 17
8 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:21.356 0.626 23
9 5 Jenson Button McLaren 1:21.499 0.769 15
10 15 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:21.519 0.789 20
11 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1:21.589 0.859 17
12 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:21.646 0.916 19
13 14 Paul di Resta Force India 1:21.963 1.233 21
14 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:21.964 1.234 21
15 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:22.180 1.450 18
16 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:22.423 1.693 19
17 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.028 2.298 16
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:23.975 3.245 21
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham 1:23.987 3.257 19
20 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:24.298 3.568 20
21 23 Max Chilton Marussia 1:25.122 4.392 20
22 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber No time 2
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