Despite having won the Hungarian Grand Prix three times in the past and having claimed pole position at the last two grands prix, Lewis Hamilton is still surprised to be starting on pole position for the race tomorrow in light of Red Bull’s pace in qualifying.
Mercedes may have closed out Q1 and Q2 at the top of the timesheets, but Vettel’s 0.8 second lead heading into the final laps of Q3 suggested that the Red Bull would be hard to beat. However, Hamilton produced a sensational lap to steal pole by 0.038 seconds, although he did have to ask his team twice whether or not he had managed to secure P1 on the grid.
“I was really surprised when they said I was on pole,” Hamilton said in the post-qualifying press conference. “I was expecting Seb to get it because he had shown serious pace before, that is why I was surprised.”
Hamilton refused to get ahead of himself despite sealing his thirtieth career pole as Mercedes are expected to struggle on the long runs due to the heat in Hungary.
“It’s great to have pole but it doesn’t mean much for the race. It will be tough tomorrow. It’s a shame that we have got a good car and if we didn’t have a tire issue we would be able to compete.”
Having missed the tire test at Silverstone last week, Mercedes could lose out to their rivals if the long run pace of the W04 is as bad as many expect it to be. To make matters worse for the German team, Sebastian Vettel was incredibly strong during the long runs in practice, suggesting that he will be in a good position to extend his championship lead tomorrow.