Hamilton storms to fifth straight pole position in Hungary

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Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position after beating Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in qualifying at the Hungaroring on Saturday afternoon.

Hamilton posted a fastest lap time of 1:22.020 to finish half a second clear of Rosberg in second place as Mercedes once again locked out the front row of the grid.

Hamilton entered qualifying after finishing fastest in all three practice sessions at the Hungaroring, and he continued this record by going quickest in Q1, Q2, and – most importantly – Q3 on Saturday.

After edging out Rosberg by three-tenths of a second on their first Q3 runs, Hamilton extended his advantage with a stunning final lap to enjoy a margin of 0.575 seconds at the end of the session.

The Silver Arrows were followed once again by Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, but the German was run close by Daniel Ricciardo, who was just 0.035 seconds further back in fifth place.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified fifth for Ferrari ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Daniil Kvyat qualified seventh for Red Bull ahead of Felipe Massa, who finished two places behind his teammate in P8.

Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean both did well to make it through to Q3 on Saturday, but neither could challenge to leading drivers and instead rounded out the top ten in ninth and tenth place respectively.

After missing FP2 on Friday due to a suspension problem that caused Sergio Perez to flip in FP1, Force India bounced back on Saturday and nearly made it into Q3. Nico Hulkenberg was edged out by Grosjean for P10 in the dying stages of Q2, leaving him 11th ahead of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Perez in P13. A mistake by Pastor Maldonado meant he could only qualify 14th on Saturday.

McLaren’s impressive practice pace failed to carry over to qualifying on Saturday afternoon as Jenson Button was eliminated in Q1, finishing 16th. The Briton lamented a problem with the power delivery on his car on the main straight that cost him a place in Q2.

Although teammate Fernando Alonso was able to make it through, his car stopped out on track before he could post a time. With the help of some marshals, the Spaniard did push his car back to the pits under the subsequent red flag, but was unable to get out on track again.

Qualifying proved to be another difficult session for Sauber as neither Marcus Ericsson or Felipe Nasr could make it into Q2, leaving them 17th and 18th respectively on the grid. Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens once again filled out the back row for Manor.

Mercedes may once again be the dominant team, but it will take an almighty effort from Rosberg to get ahead of Hamilton in the race tomorrow. The British driver can become the most successful driver in the history of the Hungarian Grand Prix with victory on Sunday, and if his qualifying lap is anything to go by, few would bet against him.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”