F1 2013: Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Recap

Lewis Hamilton (1:19.388) stole pole away from Sebastian Vettel on his final lap at the end of a frantic set of qualifying sessions for the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix. Though the practice sessions seemed to indicate that Red Bull would run away with the pole, the Mercedes duo fought back, and Rosberg led both Q1 and Q2. Vettel had set a monstrous time early in Q3, but Hamilton snuck through. Though Vettel beat his own previous time, the German could not quite catch the speed of Hamilton. Romain Grosjean, Nico Rosberg, and Fernando Alonso rounded out the fastest five qualifiers. Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo, and Sergio Perez completed the men to have set times in Q3.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber nearly dropped out in Q2, sitting sixteenth before his final lap hauled him up to eighth in the final seconds after the flag. He suffered an electrical problem that killed his KERS for what must have felt like the thousandth time for the Australian and did not set a time in the final quali session. Paul di Resta dropped out of qualifying in Q1 for the third time this season, plaintively asking Force India, “where did that go? Where did the tires and grip go?” after the session. Gutierrez, the Caterham drivers, and the Marussia drivers also did not move on to Q2.

Qualifying Results for the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix

DRIVER TEAM TIME LAPS
1.  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  1:19.388  15
2.  Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull  1:19.426  12
3.  Romain Grosjean  Lotus  1:19.595  15
4.  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes  1:19.720  16
5.  Fernando Alonso  Ferrari  1:19.791  15
6.  Kimi Raikkonen  Lotus  1:19.851  17
7.  Felipe Massa  Ferrari  1:19.929  15
8.  Daniel Ricciardo  Toro Rosso  1:20.641  14
9.  Sergio Perez  McLaren  1:22.398  16
10.  Mark Webber  Red Bull  no time  13
Knocked Out in Q2
11.  Adrian Sutil  Force India  1:20.569  17
12.  Nico Hulkenberg  Sauber  1:20.580  13
13.  Jenson Button  McLaren  1:20.777  10
14.  Jean-Eric Vergne  Toro Rosso  1:21.029  12
15.  Pastor Maldonado  Williams  1:21.133  15
16.  Valtteri Bottas  Williams  1:21.219  13
Knocked Out in Q1
17.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber  1:21.724  11
18.  Paul di Resta  Force India  1:22.043  11
19.  Charles Pic  Caterham  1:23.007  8
20.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham  1:23.333  7
21.  Jules Bianchi  Marussia  1:23.787  8
22.  Max Chilton  Marussia  1:23.997  8

Vettel (1:22.723) and Webber led the way during the Friday practice sessions, even though the reigning world champion did not post a timed lap until the clock showed less than thirty minutes to go in the morning session. Still, no other teams could boast a driver who set a lap in the 1:22s, with Raikkonen, Alonso, and Grosjean rounding out the top five Friday morning. Button managed a superb-for-2013 sixth fastest in his McLaren, while the Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Hamilton managed only eighth and thirteenth, respectively.

Though their standings improved Friday afternoon to sixth and seventh, Hamilton seemed fully unimpressed with his sixth fastest time after the second session. He pursed his lips and shrugged at his Mercedes’ pace and conceded that he could not look for a pole this weekend, what with the Red Bulls’ continually improving times. Vettel (1:21.264) and Webber again led the afternoon, though the field had tightened up, leaving the top ten covered by barely more than a second. Grosjean, Alonso, and Massa completed the fastest five at the end of the second practice, allowing Ferrari to feel optimistic, as well as Lotus.

The order changed Saturday morning, as Grosjean (1:20.730) took charge in the final practice and dropped the fastest time of the weekend by a half second. Alonso, a shockingly quick Perez, Vettel, and Massa filed positions two through five, with Hamilton and Webber sixth and seventh. Despite his teammate’s pace, Button sat ninth fastest, just over a tenth slower than eighth fastest Rosberg. Sutil rounded out the top ten, with Raikkonen languishing in eleventh. Despite his pace, or perhaps because he pushed so hard, Perez completed his session in the barriers after spinning on the way into Turn 11. That gave his McLaren crew a busy break between FP3 and qualifying as they frantically attempted to repair the car without a gearbox change.

Q1:
The sun shone with only a few wisps of clouds in a blue sky as the twenty minutes of Q1 got underway. Gutierrez led the way on the medium compound after an issue cut his FP3 session short before he set a time. Perez remained in the garage, along with most of the field, as McLaren continued to repair the car. Rosberg left the garages second, nearly three minutes into the session, also on the mediums. The Force Indias followed soon thereafter, as did the Williams drivers, though many drivers remained on the pit wall or in the back of the garage with five minutes gone.

Rosberg, meanwhile, had gone out for an out lap, but cruised back to the garage without setting a time. The Marussias soon joined the fray, as had Hulkenberg and Pic. Both Pic and Chilton entered the track directly on the soft tires, which seemed to be about 1.3s faster than the harder compound. That speed would last for a very short time before the grip dropped off. Half the field lapped when eight minutes had been completed.

Bottas (1:21.532) went to the top on soft tires eight minutes in, with teammate Maldonado just over two tenths slower. Sutil, di Resta, Pic, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, and Bianchi completed the top eight, the only drivers to have set times nearing halfway in Q1.

Hulkenberg soon shook up the order, sliding into third fastest. The Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, and Mercedes drivers all remained in the garage at halfway. At that point, Bottas, and all the Toro Rosso, Caterham, and Marussia drivers were all lapping on the soft compounds.

With eight to go, Ferrari and Lotus entered the track. Of the four drivers, only Massa had medium compound shoes on his car. Ricciardo Bottas, Vergne, Maldonado, and Sutil were the fastest five with seven minutes to go and none of the fastest men yet to set a time. Alonso immediately set the fastest S1 of Q1, then the fastest S2, then went straight to the top with a 1:20.652, the fastest lap to the point of the weekend. Raikkonen looked set to beat his time, but instead Grosjean topped Alonso by two tenths. The Finn had lost time in the middle sector. Massa made it a Lotus-Ferrari- Lotus-Ferrari top four.

Meanwhile, Perez joined those lapping, along with the rest of the men yet to set a time.
Vettel’s first lap ended with three and a half minutes to go, putting him second fastest.

Chilton and Gutierrez then sat in the relegation zone with the four drivers without a time, but Button went sixth fastest to drop Bianchi. Perez, Rosberg, and Hamilton were all on hot laps and likely to move up and on to Q2. Perez went twelfth fastest, then Rosberg fastest of all, and Hamilton just a hundredth slower than his teammate.

With less than two minutes to go, Gutierrez, di Resta, Pic, van der Garde, Bianchi, and Chilton were in the relegation zone. Di Resta could not improve and remained eighteenth with one lap left to play. Webber looked unhappy, sitting in thirteenth and slow through the first sector of his final lap. Di Resta’s lap looked equally as bad as Webber’s, as much of the rest of the knockout zone looked to improve. Di Resta barely made the flag, leaving him another lap to try. Webber pitted from thirteenth to abort his final lap as Gutierrez was unable to improve out of the relegation zone. Nor could Bianchi, despite quick early sectors. In the end, di Resta could not make it out of Q1. Rosberg (1:20.350) led Hamilton, Grosjean, Vettel, Alonso, Maldonado, Raikkonen, Massa, Hulkenberg, and Button as the top ten.

Q2:
No one bit as the flag waved green for the fifteen minutes of Q2, with the lights not working at the end of the pit lane. Raikkonen led the way a minute into the session on softs. Hulkenberg soon followed. Three minutes into the session, seven drivers had gone out on to the track, all on the softs. Anyone listening to the radio learned that the electrical issue plaguing Webber had knocked out his KERS. As the latter two thirds of the session began, all but Massa and the McLaren drivers were lapping.

Raikkonen set a 1:20.987 and pitted. Ricciardo and Hulkenberg slotted in behind the Finn, only to have Sutil then Grosjean go tops. Grosejan (1:20.442) led after the first burst of times, with Sutil, Raikkknen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Vebber, Vergne, and Hulkenberg rounding out the top eight. Hamilton beat Grosjean on his own first fast lap, with Rosberg only able to go a few hundredths slower than Grosjean. Alonso went fourth.

Vettel (1:19.992) burst into the lead by nearly four tenths with seven minutes remaining. As much of the field returned to the garage for the typical mid-session break, Button and Perez looked set to set their first times of Q2. Vettel led Hamilton Grosjean, Rosberg, Alonso, Sutil, Massa, Raikkonen, Button, and Perez (both McLarens were on scrub tires) were the top ten with five to go. Bottas, Ricciado, Webber, Vergne, Hulkenberg, and Maldonado were then in the knockout zone. Raikkonen and Grosjean were the first back out, with enough fuel for two laps for Raikkonen. Raikkonen’s first one put him second fastest, half a tenth faster than Hamilton, having moved up from eighth.

As a few clouds rolled in, the track temperature dropped by four degrees. Ten drivers were on track with three minutes to go. Grosjean moved up from fourth to second on his second set of fast laps. Bottas, Ricciardo, Webber, Vergne, Hulkenberg, and Maldonado were set to be dropped with two minutes to go. At that point, all drivers but Vettel and Raikkonen were out on track. Rosberg soon beat Vettel’s time by two tenths on fresh tires. Sutil moved up to sixth, as Hamilton also beat Vettel.

Alonso slotted into fourth, just after that, with Sutil moving up to seventh. Webber continued to fall down the order as Ricciardo popped up to seventh, Webber was down in sixtheenth on his last lap, managing to haul himself up to eighth, just after Button dropped Massa, who returned the favor by jumping up the order. The final few drivers shook up the order, with each moving up and dropping another as he crossed the line. In the end, Rosberg (1:19.778) led Hamilton, Vettel, Grosjean, Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa, Webber, Ricciardo, and Perez the top ten to move on to fight for pole in Q3.

Q3:
Webber led the way onto the track for the ten minutes of Q3, with Perez and Ricciardo following. Within the first minute, Rosberg and Hamilton followed, as all the drivers got right to work in the first two minutes of the session. Webber aborted his lap, despite his engineer’s radio transmission that the Australian would not need to save the tires. He was admonished, “we do need to do a reasonably quick lap.” Hamilton (1:20.324) led Rosberg, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, and Perez after the first burst of lap times. Ricciardo had also aborted his lap, but Vettel (1:19.506) completely demolished the fastest lap of the weekend, going eight tenths faster than Hamilton on new soft tires. All other drivers were on used softs for their first run.

Everyone returned to their garages for fresh tires before setting off on a final run to pole. Perez remained out to set his first time while the two Australians in the field remained in the garage without times. Drivers streamed back out at around the two minute mark. Everyone but Webber rejoined with less then two minutes to go. He got out of the car and stormed out the back of the garage. McLaren sent Perez out on mediums, looking for a strategy to gain points.

Everyone was on their only laps after the flag, with Rosberg, then Hamilton setting the fastest first sectors. Raikkonen could manage only second fastest on his last lap, only to have Rosberg, then Grosjean take second off of the Finn. Alonso slotted into fourth, only to have Hamilton beat Vettel’s provisional pole by just over a tenth. Vettel bettered himself, but it was not enough to beat Hamilton, to the cheers and whistles of the crowd on the front straight. Hamilton was as surprised as Mercedes after the radio transmission that informed him that he had won pole. Grosjean and Rosberg would start on the second row, with Alonso and Raikkonen on row three.

{originally published at Formula1Blog}

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