Russell lands surprise F1 pole for Mercedes at Hungarian GP

George Russell

George Russell has sprung arguably the biggest surprise result of the Formula 1 season to date by claiming pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Brit stole the spot from Carlos Sainz as the chequered flag fell on Qualifying to spark jubilant scenes in the Mercedes garage.

Charles Leclerc will start Sunday’s race third while Verstappen experienced a lack of power to finish 10th, one spot up from Perez who was eliminated in Qualifying 2.

The sun had broken through since Free Practice 3, with the track officially declared dry head in to Qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel was one of the first to head out, the German having helped his mechanics repair the damaged Aston Martin after crashing out of Free Practice 3.

Verstappen set the early pace, recording a 1:19.020s even before either Ferrari had left the garage.

Lando Norris shot to second with his first timed lap with a 1:19.534s, slotting in ahead of Lewis Hamilton by 0.2s.

Valtteri Bottas also managed a time faster than Hamilton had, the Alfa Romeo Sauber briefly third fastest.

Russell and then Perez both went faster soon after, while Daniel Ricciardo was eighth best on his first flying lap with a 1:19.897s.

Sainz was only fourth fastest on his first push lap, while Leclerc was a surprising 10th and more than a second off Verstappen’s pace.

The timing sheet was a moving feast, Fernando Alonso climbing to fifth and Norris second, only for Hamilton to improve and demote them both a place.

Leclerc and then Sainz both then went quicker, still behind Verstappen but ahead of the lead Mercedes which fell to fourth.

Inside the final two minutes, the entire field was on track looking to improve.

Ricciardo climbed from the elimination zone to sixth shortly before the chequered flag waved with a 1:18.775s.

Unable to escape the cut were Nicholas Latifi, Pierre Gasly, Vettel, Alex Albon, and Yuki Tsunoda.

Hamilton set the pace when Qualifying 2 began, the Mercedes driver logging a 1:18.883s.

It lasted but seconds, his used-tyre run swiftly beaten by both Ferraris before Norris too went faster, the McLaren driver shooting to provisional pole with a 1:18.121s.

The timesheets changed rapidly through the opening minutes, Verstappen emerging fastest after the opening runs from Alonso, Norris, and Ricciardo.

Hamilton ran offset from the bulk of the field for his second lap, recording a series of personal best microsectors.

It was a lap that saw him rise to third with a 1:18.035s while his team-mate, running to the same programme, recorded a 1:18.154s to slot into fifth.

Inside the final five minutes, the order began to change once again as the leading protagonists returned to the circuit.

Perez had his opening lap time deleted for track limits, officials reviewed the decision and reinstated the lap – the Red Bull having kept its right-hand wheels on the white line at Turn 5.

It left the Mexican in ninth place as he headed out on a set of used soft tyres, a run which saw him fail to improve on the 1:18.516s he had reinstated.

The ultimate pace had moved to 1:17.703s courtesy of Verstappen, who was 0.065s clear of Leclerc who sat second.

As the chequered flag waved, Perez found himself in 11th and eliminated, joining Guanyu Zhou, Kevin Magnussen, Lance Stroll, and Mick Schumacher.

All 10 survivors of the knock-out qualifying system headed out as Qualifying 3 began, Esteban Ocon the first to set a time.

The Frenchman recorded a 1:18.890s, better than what Ricciardo could muster on his first effort.

Leclerc shot to the top with a 1:17.985s before his team-mate banked a 1:17.505s.

Russell slotted in second and Hamilton fourth after the initial flurry of laps, while Alonso was fifth from Norris and Verstappen, who made a mistake at Turn 3 to run wide.

With three minutes remaining, the field headed back out on track, Verstappen reporting a lack of power as he did so.

Ocon was the first to record a time, improving to fourth, Alonso just about matching his team-mate to go fifth best just 0.06s slower than his team-mate.

Verstappen’s problems remained, the Dutchman limping around unable to improve which saw him slip to 10th.

Sainz was able to improve, taking provisional pole from Leclerc with Norris slotting in third.

Running behind them on track, Russell was on an improved lap.

The Mercedes driver set a series of personal best sectors, completing a near perfect lap to steal pole position – Mercedes first since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Ocon remained fifth from Alonso in sixth, then was Hamilton who suffered a DRS issue and aborted his final lap, then Bottas, Ricciardo, and Verstappen.

It makes for an exciting race, with a mixed up grid seeing the championship leader in the pack and an unlikely protagonist on pole position.

Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix begins at 23:00 AEST.

Results: Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying

Pos Num Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 63 George Russell Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 1:18.407 1:18.154 1:17.377
2 55 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Ferrari 1:18.434 1:17.946 1:17.421
3 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari 1:18.806 1:17.768 1:17.567
4 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 1:18.653 1:18.121 1:17.769
5 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team 1:18.866 1:18.216 1:18.018
6 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team 1:18.716 1:17.904 1:18.078
7 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 1:18.374 1:18.035 1:18.142
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Team 1:18.935 1:18.445 1:18.157
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team 1:18.775 1:18.198 1:18.379
10 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:18.509 1:17.703 1:18.823
11 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:19.118 1:18.516
12 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 Team 1:18.973 1:18.573
13 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 1:18.993 1:18.825
14 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin F1 Team 1:19.205 1:19.137
15 47 Mick Schumacher Haas F1 Team 1:19.164 1:19.202
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:19.240
17 23 Alex Albon Williams Racing 1:19.256
18 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin F1 Team 1:19.273
19 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:19.527
20 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing 1:19.570

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