Hamilton beats Verstappen to first pole since 2021

Hamilton beats Verstappen to first pole since 2021

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Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton will be on pole position for the first time since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Date: Sunday, 23 July Venue: Hungaroring
Coverage: Live text and online-only radio commentary on BBC Sport website and app

Lewis Hamilton beat Max Verstappen in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying to take his first pole position since the penultimate race of the 2021 season.

Hamilton snatched pole position from the world champion by just 0.003 seconds with the very final lap of the session.

Lando Norris led team-mate Oscar Piastri to an all-McLaren second row.

Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu impressed with fifth place on the grid ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez made it into the top 10 on the grid for the first time in six races but it will do little to release the pressure on the Mexican as he was ninth and 0.433secs slower than the Dutchman.

Zhou’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was seventh fastest, ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, whose eighth place seemed to confirm his team’s relative slump in recent races in the face of car upgrades from their main rivals.

Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg was the final man in the top 10, while Daniel Ricciardo managed 13th place on his return to Formula 1 with Alpha Tauri, out-qualifying team-mate Yuki Tsunoda at the first attempt.

There were contrasting fortunes for Hamilton’s Mercedes’ team-mate George Russell, who will start 18th after being hampered by traffic on his final run in Q1.

The battle for pole

Verstappen looked on course for yet another pole – he had won it at the past six races in a row – when he went fastest on his first run in the final part of qualifying.

But Hamilton was only 0.126secs adrift on his own first run and looked like he might be able to challenge if he nailed his last lap and Verstappen did not quite.

Verstappen failed to improve on his final run – he was 0.02secs down on his own time – and Hamilton nailed his on a track he has made his own with eight victories in his career.

Hamilton, who has had a difficult time with his team since the advent of new regulations in 2022, said: “It’s been a crazy year and a half. I have lost my voice from shouting so much in the car.

“We have been pushing so hard to finally get a pole and it just feels like the first time.

“I didn’t expect to be fighting for pole so when I went into that final run I gave it everything.

“It has been massively challenging for everyone in the team. We have been focusing so much on trying to improve.

“We have been losing so much time in Turns Four and 11 compared to the others, so I just sent it. It has been so tough and it is going to continue to be tough after this, but this just shows we can do it.”

Verstappen, for his part, said he believed the upgrades Red Bull have introduced for this weekend had worked but that he had been struggling for balance and that he believed the team “haven’t nailed it this weekend”.

More to follow

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