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Lewis Hamilton claimed a dominating Pole Position at the Hungaroring with his final hot lap of Q3, a whooping 0.413 s faster than eventual 2nd placed driver Romain Grosjean. It's the Briton's second pole position in Hungary, his third of 2012 and the 22nd of his career, and also marks McLaren's 150th Pole Position in Formula One. Romain Grosjean put Lotus on the front row of the grid for the first time this season as the Frenchman pulled together a stellar lap after the chequered flag was waved. Sebastian Vettel got only one bite of the cherry in Q3 as using an extra set of the soft tyres in Q1 prevented the German from doing a second run in Q3.
Jenson Button managed to put his McLaren on the second row of the grid in 4thplace with Kimi Raikkonen managing a competent 5th place for tomorrow's race.
Here's how Qualifying in Hungary unfolded...
With 24 mean machines out on track at the same time to make the most of 20 minutes of Q1 time, the session always opens up the likelihood of drivers encountering plenty of traffic. More so this weekend as the Hungaroring is an extremely small circuit, just 4.3 km in length. For the lead drivers the session is all about steering clear of the drop zone at the end of Q1. As ever Q1 decides positions 18 to 24 on the grid. The last 6 spots on the grid belonged to the drivers from Caterham, Marussia Virgin and HRT. The tussle amongst the other drivers was to ensure they do not fall prey in this first round of qualifying.
Romain Grosjean got Q1 underway throwing down the gauntlet with a 1.27.333 lap, with the Frenchman's E20 twitching under heavy braking. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen cheered on by a horde of Finnish fans went even quicker to do a 1.22.689 lap. The conditions at Hungary were tailor-made for the Enstone based Lotus team, but the McLarens have also showed a liking to the track having been on the pace the entire weekend. Lewis Hamilton exactly demonstrated this as he went atop the timesheets with under 10 minutes remaining. Fernando Alonso was on a really quick lap but got baulked by a Marussia; this spoiled a potential P1 lap as the Spaniard went 5th fastest.
Bruno Senna underlined the pace of his Williams as he tucked in behind Hamilton in 2nd place. Jenson Button seemed to struggle with the same understeer problems which have plagued his campaign till now, with the Briton failing to get a grip on his McLaren. With less than 5 minutes remaining Alonso, Schumacher, Rosberg, Hulkenberg all went out back on track on the soft tyres to steer clear of the drop zone.
Alonso managed swiftly to climb up into 4th place, while Paul Di Resta went 2nd fastest just behind Hamilton. The Ferrari of Alonso remarkably though was three-tenths down on the pace setting McLaren despite being on the soft tyres, The Red Bull duo of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel could breathe a huge sigh of relief as they managed to steer into Q2 in 16th and 17th places respectively.
Nico Rosberg went 4th fastest in the dying moments while Michael Schumacher went 11th fastest. Kamui Kobayashi kept the paddock waiting as he set a stonking final lap to progress into the next round of qualifying. Hamilton, Grosjean and Raikkonen were the only drivers not to use a set of softs in the session, saying a lot about those drivers' confidence this weekend.
Q1 Exits: Daniel Ricciardo, Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Charles Pic, Timo Glock, Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan
The Lotus duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean set the early benchmark, cruising to a 1-2 with the 2007 Champion Raikkonen setting a 1.21.614 lap. Hamilton though dislodged the Finn from the provisional P1 spot as he drove a mega lap to go six-tenths of a second quicker than Raikkonen. And to rub it into his rivals, the British ace was heard complaining over his radio that he was held up by someone whilst on his hot lap.
With less than 2 minutes remaining championship leader Fernando Alonso was seen at the cusp of the drop zone in 10th place, whilst his teammate Felipe Massa had an easy passage into Q3. The biggest casualties of the session looked set to be the Mercedes duo as they were seen languishing in 14th and 16th places respectively, with a huge mountain to climb to put their cars into the next round of qualifying.
Alonso showed the Prancing Horse has pace in abundance as he went 4th fastest, to tuck in behind his teammate Massa who finished 3rd. Sebastian Vettel confirmed his progress into Q3 driving an ultra-quick lap to go 2nd. Pastor Maldonado conjured a bit of magic in the dying moments to go 3rd fastest,
The biggest casualty of the session was Aussie Mark Webber who was bumped out in Q2 by Bruno Senna who made it into Q3 by a slim 0.040s! The Aussie could not improve on his last run and that cost him dearly as he now starts the race from 11th position with a huge battle on his hands.
It was extremely tight to get through to Q3 with less than 0.15s separating Raikkonen in fifth and Webber in 11th. The Mercedes duo also missed the cut into Q3, with both the Williams drivers showing remarkable pace to get themselves into the final stage of quailifying.
Q2 Exits: Mark Webber, Paul di Resta, Nico Rosberg, Sergio Perez, Kamui Kobayashi, Jean-Eric Vergne and Michael Schumacher
The fastest part of qualifying saw Sebastian Vettel and the Ferraris biding their time to hit the track. Kimi Raikkonen went fastest provisionally as Lewis Hamilton was seen losing the rear end of his McLaren under braking having pushed a little too hard. Hamilton though made amends on his next flying lap to show mesmerizing pace to nose ahead of Romain Grosjean and teammate Jenson Button.
Vettel, Alonso and Massa headed out to track in what would be their only chance to stake a claim for pole as they used an extra set of the soft tyres in Q1. Vettel went 2nd fastest with a excellent middle sector in a quick 1.21.416 lap. With the chequered flag waved, Hamilton had pole position in the bag, as the other drivers battled to seal grid position for Sundayâ€™s race.
Alonso could only manage 6th fastest, while his teammate Massa was right behind him in 7th place.
Grosjean pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the dying moments as he qualified 2nd fastest, making it the first time a Lotus will start from the front row of the grid this season. Raikkonen could only manage 5th place, whilst Maldonado, Senna and Hulkenberg qualified in 8th, 9th and 10th places respectively. Vettel qualified in 3rd place alongside Jenson Button on the second row of the grid.
Top 10: Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Pastor Maldonado, Bruno Senna and Nico Hulkenberg
Photo Courtesy: McLaren
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