#F1 Qualifying Review: #HungarianGP 2015 – Hamilton cruises to pole

Brought to you by Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)


A troubled Lotus, an undrivable Sauber, overheating tyres on the Toro Rosso, a technically unreliable Force India and a still down on power McLaren meant a hard to predict midfield scrap.  Further forward, Red Bull were looking strong, as well as Williams edging closer to Ferrari.


It was Nico Rosberg who wasted no time in hitting the track as the German looked to set the pace after being beaten in all three practice sessions by his teammate Lewis Hamilton.  Gusty conditions over the bowl complex of the Hungaroring saw Rosberg run wide of the track limits on three occasions as he set 1:25.262, swiftly followed by his teammate with a 1:24.293.

The rest of the field followed the World Champions’ lead causing headaches for many as they navigated the slower cars.  Rosberg complained of understeer, much the same as the midfield drivers were feeling.  The Red Bulls continued to impress as their former Renault counterparts, Lotus, struggled with car handling.

Pastor Maldonado ran wide at turn 1 while Romain Grosjean powerslid through turn 2.  At one point it even looked unlikely they would be able to save the embarrassment of being beaten by the Manor cars – the soft tyre saving their blushes.

Carlos Sainz’s first lap on the softs not quite on the money, as the Toro Rosso continued to perform poorly around the Budapest track.  This would eventually see him through by the skin of his teeth as Jenson Button was unable to get within 1.7 seconds of Hamilton’s fastest time.  The energy deployment down the home straight faltering which was the downfall of the man from Frome.

Q1 saw both Manors, both Saubers and Jenson Button drop out of the running.    The biggest surprise though was the troubled handling of the Mercedes for Nico Rosberg.


No such rush at the start of the second session before the silence was broken by Sebastian Vettel.  The former World Champion and the rest of the field all returned with soft tyre on their wagons, leading to steady out laps to maintain as much tyre life as possible.  The temperature having risen slightly since Q1 meaning the Pirelli rubber was even more sensitive.

Fernando Alonso’s McLaren having engine problems before stopping tantalising short of the pit lane.  The determination and desperation of the Spaniard shown by his attempts to push the car back to the pit lane much to the delight of the Hungarian crowd.  Social media rejoiced at the nostalgia it evoked seeing a driver turning into steward for a brief moment.

Alonso wave

When the green light showed again around half the field headed back out, with Nico Hulkenberg posting an impressive time to go 5th, though this was soon bettered by Raikkonen and Kvyat.

Romain Grosjean put in a very tidy effort to scrape into Q3 along with Max Verstappen in 9th place. Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado and Fernando Alonso all were eliminated.


The two Mercedes drivers were the first to head out on track for the final session of the Saturday, at a place where grid position is of elevated importance.  Rosberg set the pace on used soft tyres, before Hamilton bettered his effort by 3 tenths of a second.  The Ferrari pair soon followed with Raikkonen slightly behind Vettel, before Daniel Ricciardo split them.

The Williams drivers struggling to match the times of the Ferrari drivers as they look to cut the 50 point deficit in the Constructors’ Championship.  Felipe Massa shown to have run wide on his first attempt in Q3 which explained the 0.6 gap to his teammate.

Lewis Hamilton endured traffic behind Kimi Raikkonen meaning a less than ideal preparation for the World Champion.  This did not show in the end as the Briton set a scintillating time to go half a second clear of his teammate.  Daniel Ricciardo’s lap was a very controlled tour of the circuit, once more splitting the Ferraris.

Daniil Kvyat will be slightly disappointed with 7th place in a car that had far more potential.  The Williams pair stooped under the radar slightly as others stole the limelight.  A very credible performance from Max Verstappen was largely ignored by the FOM cameras; he will be one to watch for race day.

As ever, body language told a story of its own – Rosberg well aware it could be a difficult afternoon tomorrow – especially given a certain Daniel Ricciardo has saved a set of soft compound tyres.

Hamilton thumb

Qualifying Times
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.020
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.595 (+0.575)
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:22.739 (+0.719)
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:22.774 (+0.754)
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:23.020 (+1.000)
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.222 (+1.202)
7 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:23.332 (+1.312)
8 Felipe Massa Williams 1:23.537 (+1.517)
9 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:23.679 (+1.659)
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:24.181 (+2.161)
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.826
12 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:23.869
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:24.461
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:24.609
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren no time
16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:24.739
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:24.843
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:24.997
19 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:27.416
20 Will Stevens Manor 1:27.949

19 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: #HungarianGP 2015 – Hamilton cruises to pole

  1. I’m confused. Was Hamilton’s lap a 1:21.987 or 1:22.020? I see the 1:22 everywhere else. Where did the 1:21 come from? And how does this qualifying compare to last year and earlier?

  2. This session makes it abundandtly clear F1 needs to improve its transmission. We lost nearly all of Hamilton’s fast lap to watch Rosberg’s ultimately futile effort.

    Have the idiots never heard of split screens?

    • I suspect they’ll move to Ultra HD transmission before they sort out the messy directing of the world feed.

  3. Biggest losers were Rosberg and Kvyat – crushed by teammates. Better stock up on coffee for Sunday, its gearing up to be a snozzzzzfest.

    • Well Rosberg had difficulties with the setup of the car etc I don’t know how much of an effect those have had on his qualifying performance, but I don’t think Kvyat the “Rookie” feels like a loser nowadays, as this is like only the 2nd time in last 6 races he got out qualified by his much older and experienced teammate.

    • They promised full use of the ERS, whatever that stands for. From the pics of Alonso I’d guess it’s Elbows Required to Shove the car, in which case, promise fulfilled no?

  4. Just as a question out there, I noted the lap record was around a 1.14 set by one called Michael 😉 are we really 8sec away from this pace or has there been a circuit change or something?

    • I think he has the records around both the newer layouts, but the fastest ever record was in the older layout which had an equal radius turn one and bit closer to the pit exit, which made the circuit a bit shorter, and also had a slight higher average speed, so knocked a few seconds off. I had to Wikipedia it, and I noticed they had the ‘old’ layout record at a 1:16.2 (not a 1:14 I couldn’t say which is correct myself) and the current layout at a 1:19.07 so we are a smidge under three seconds off on the current layout, which given the dowforce cut I reckon is not too shabby!

      • Thanks Adam, I couldn’t fathom that one as I couldn’t see a previous layout but it makes more sense now but what was throwing me was normally when a layout had been changed then the lap record is reset but on the graphics during quali this time flagged up with Michaels old record

        • I forgot there was also a small (ish) alteration to turn… I dunno the number, but it is the one before the last two constant radius corners. They lengthened the straigh before it, and tightened the turn, which slowed time there a tad two… I suspect trying to make an overtaking point. Either way, the current circuit is one of the bigger gaps, just because its all downforce and no power, and the one thing we lost tons of is power, but it is not as bad as the TV folks/media often make it.

          If you really want to cofuse matter, there is also an old, old, layout with a chicane after turn two, which had an even longer lap record from the 80’s, like 1:30 odd or something!

  5. Britney did not look happy in the post Q interview. Steve Matchett made a comment on NBC, that Rosberg was rolling his eyes while Hamilton stated how good his car was.

    • I think he probably did it because the team didn’t tell Lewis to abort his lap so as not to rub it in anymore.

  6. Although Hamilton looked the faster Mercedes driver all weekend, Rosberg wasn’t helped by this tyre pressure problem. I think the gap is more in the region of 2 tenths, but kudos to Hamilton for just getting on with his job and nailing pole position. It’s all about tomorrow though, let’s see how that goes tomorrow.

  7. I suspect that Rosberg’s car is having the the same “type” of issues that Webber’s car used to have at Red BS. Curious indeed.

  8. First of all, Formula 1’s feed needs improvement and NBCSN’s coverage needs to be greatly improved. It’s been bad this weekend.

    Mercedes hasn’t had reliability issues in a while; could reliability be an issue tomorrow? Nico has the same car as Lewis but he can’t get the same performance out of it. I think that it shows just how much natural talent Lewis has and if all of the digital displays, radio transmissions, etc. were taken away Nico would really have trouble driving the car whereas I think that Lewis would do fine. It seems that he struggles more to get the right set up, etc. Lewis has made his mistakes but he seems to learn from them.

    I think that Daniel Ricciardo will have a strong showing provided that the Renault power unit is reliable. It will be interesting to see how hard he pushes given that the power unit in the car needs to last him a few GP or until the Russian GP when upgrades may be deployed.

    I think that Sebastian Vettel is Ferrari’s best chance for a podium or a win Sunday in Hungary. Ferrari seemed to have bounced back from their struggles. I think that Bottas would be a good pairing for him if he leaves Williams and Kimi leaves Ferrari.

    I think Lotus are just turning up and going through the season and there won’t be any significant improvements in performance, etc. until Renault buys the team because I don’t think that the assets are there for the team to make any significant upgrades right now.

    If it’s hot during the GP, there may be a few retirements.

    Another thing that is worrisome is the fact that there is one grand prix in six weeks. I think that the sport will lose a good majority of the excitement, renewed interest, and momentum that it gained at the British GP especially if there are not many on track battles, passing, etc. If Formula 1 has a snoozefest going into the summer break, it makes me wonder how many people will be interested when the teams come back from the break.

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