Lewis Hamilton was shocked when he was informed by his Mercedes team that his final lap in qualifying had been good enough for pole position for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Briton had been second fastest in both Q1 and Q2, behind his team-mate Nico Rosberg but stormed to first in Q3 with a time of 1.19.388, to collect the 30th pole position of his career and his fourth for Mercedes.
“I was really surprised when the guys told me over the radio that I was on pole today”, explained the 2008 world champion. “It was a good lap but I thought Sebastian had done enough. So it’s fantastic – and also to get three pole positions in a row. It’s great to start from the front but, like we know, the race is where we score the points.
“Looking to tomorrow, this is a tough circuit to overtake on but it’s also a long run down to the first corner, and both Seb and the Lotus cars will be really quick.”
Despite the bonus of starting on pole, Hamilton was still reasonably cautious as to how his Mercedes will deal with its tyres in the high heat in Hungary, which would be decisive to the outcome of the race.
“We have a good car but the race will come down to how we use the tyres”, he said. “We are working hard to improve in that area and we had some reasonable long runs yesterday. We’ll have to see how it goes because it’s going to be tough in these high temperatures. I would love to have a real race with the guys around me, a proper battle, and the goal has to be to collect as many points as we can.
Nico Rosberg in the sister Mercedes W04, who qualified in 4th was also surprised by the speed shown by the team in qualifying, after admitting that the team had been focused on race pace, rather than one-lap speed.
“Our speed was a bit of a surprise today as the car set-up work was focused on good race pace this weekend. But it worked quite well in the hot temperatures. It’s great for the team to be starting from fourth and pole position. I hope we can have a good start even though I’m on the dirtier side of the grid.
“Qualifying did not go perfectly for me at the end, it didn’t help that my brake balance adjuster got stuck, so I couldn’t change it around the lap”, explained the German. “That cost me a little, but the pole wasn’t possible today. Now we look forward to tomorrow and I’m confident that we look better in the hot conditions than in the previous race.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic