Nico Rosberg snatches pole position in Hungarian GP qualifying epic

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Nico Rosberg snatched pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix away in dramatic fashion at the end of a mammoth qualifying session at the Hungaroring, edging out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

The start of qualifying was delayed after heavy rain hit the area following final practice, drenching the track.

The safety car was sent out at regular intervals to monitor conditions before the track was deemed dry enough after a 20-minute wait, although just five minutes of running was possible before more rain resulted in another red flag.

Once the track had dried and the sun was out, running was able to resume, only for on-track incidents to result in a further three red flags in Q1 alone.

Q2 and Q3 proved to be less eventful affairs, the crescendo being a battle between Hamilton and Rosberg once again. Hamilton drew first blood in Q3, going three-tenths of a second faster than Rosberg with his first lap, only for the German to close to within a tenth before pitting for a fresh set to super-soft tires.

Hamilton was forced to back off on his final qualifying lap after a spin for Fernando Alonso, but Rosberg dodged the yellow flags, giving him the chance to improve through the final sector.

Rosberg picked up the mantle emphatically, going 0.143 seconds faster than Hamilton to take a shock pole position, his second in Hungary.

Hamilton was left lamenting more bad luck in second place, having gone four-tenths faster than Rosberg in the first sector before his lap was ruined.

Red Bull locked out the second row, Daniel Ricciardo leading from Max Verstappen, while Sebastian Vettel finished down in fifth as the sole Ferrari to make it through to the top 10.

Carlos Sainz Jr. matched his best qualifying of the season in P6 ahead of the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, both of whom benefitted from the wet conditions to make it through to Q3. Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10, both having been caught out by the yellow flag.

Haas’ hopes of making Q3 for the first time in F1 were dashed in a crazy 60-second period at the end of Q2 as drivers switched to slick tires. Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez both sat well inside the top 10 after their final laps, only for a flurry of improvements to leave them P11 and P15 on the grid.

Daniil Kvyat, Sergio Perez and Felipe Nasr also lost out, finishing 12th, 13th and 16th respectively, but Kimi Raikkonen was arguably the biggest loser. As the first man to take the checkered flag, Raikkonen sat P1. Less than a minute later, he was P14.

Renault’s hopes of building on its top-10 finish in FP3 were dashed as a late red flag in Q1 denied Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen the chance to make it through to Q2. Palmer finished 17th, two places ahead of Magnussen as the French team’s tough start to the year continued.

Felipe Massa and Marcus Ericsson were both casualties of the conditions in Q1, crashing out in separate incidents. Ericsson caused the second red flag after sliding off-track, while Massa made the switch to intermediate tires too early, resulting in a crash at Turn 4 that ended his qualifying. Massa and Ericsson will start 18th and 20th respectively.

Manor was unable to capitalize on the wet conditions in Q1 as Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto locked out the back row of the grid. Haryanto was responsible for the fourth and final red flag in Q1, his crash bringing the session to an early end.

The Hungarian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from 7am ET on Sunday.

Robert Wickens shares more positive strides toward recovery in new video

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Robert Wickens has made massive steps since sustaining a spinal cord injury in an Aug. 19, 2018 crash at Pocono Raceway.

Since the accident, Wickens publicly has shared his recovery, often uploading videos of his physical rehabilitation on Twitter.

In his most recent update on Wednesday, Wickens shared a video of him walking on a treadmill. Fellow NTT IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kannan, who competes in triathlons during his spare time, also was visible running on the treadmill behind Wickens.

“When I am @TonyKannan [sic] age, I hope to run as fast as him…” Wickens tweeted. “Today was a good day!”

Wickens, who will turn 31 on March 13, first made his return to the IndyCar paddock in last year’s season opener in St. Petersburg. Since then, he’s made a return to the driver’s seat, piloting a specialized Acura NSX prior to the start of last year’s IndyCar race in his hometown of Toronto.

In September, Wickens fulfilled a vow to his wife Karli, by standing with her during their wedding. The new husband and wife also danced together during their reception.

Should Wickens fully recover to resume racing, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt has stated that the team’s No. 6 entry will be available for him to drive. Wickens continues to remain as a “driver coach and consultant” for the team.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter