Hamilton masters rain for shock Hungary pole
Hungarian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Hamilton masters rain for shock Hungary pole

Lewis Hamilton took a surprise pole position in soaking wet conditions at the Hungarian Grand Prix, hooking up a remarkable lap to beat Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to the fastest time by 0.260s.

Bottas had clocked a 1:35.918 to knock Kimi Raikkonen off provisional pole on his final attempt before Hamilton emerged through the spray to set a 1:35.658 and go fastest of all. Despite standing water around the track, Hamilton had only one moment on his quick lap at Turn 4 as the rear snapped from underneath him, but he soon gathered the slide and powered on through the second sector to pole.

The Mercedes front row lockout came after Ferrari dominated the dry practice sessions earlier this weekend and on a track where overtaking has historically been difficult. It puts the championship leaders in the prefect position to capitalise on Sunday, although Ferrari should have a quicker car if the conditions are dry and hot.

Raikkonen had looked capable of pole in Q1 and set his fastest lap a few minutes earlier in the session when conditions were worse. He had hoped to improve at the end after taking on a new set of full wet tyres, but said he got stuck behind a Haas on his final attempt. Nevertheless, his earlier lap was still quick enough to beat teammate Sebastian Vettel to third by 0.024s. Although Vettel had set the fastest time in Q2 thanks to a gamble on the intermediate tyre at the start of the session, he never looked fully comfortable on the full wets in Q3.

Renault's Carlos Sainz took fifth on the grid with an impressive lap that left him 0.8s clear of the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly in sixth. Max Verstappen took seventh as Red Bull failed to perform in wet conditions, despite being one of the favourites coming into the weekend. Brendon Hartley took a career-best eighth on the grid in the second Toro Rosso ahead of the two Haas drivers that appeared to struggle in the worst of the conditions.

A dry start to the second part of qualifying saw all drivers bar Vettel go out on slick tyres, but by the time they had finished their outlaps the final sector of the lap was soaked. That resulted in an immediate pit stop for the 14 slick tyre runners as Vettel set comfortably the quickest time on his intermediates.

By the time the rest of the field had returned to the track, the conditions had worsened and Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Marcus Ericsson and Lance Stroll all failed to make the cut.

Ricciardo failed to set a quick enough lap time on the intermediates after Stroll spun in front of him and he had to slow for yellow flags. He later improved to 12th on a set of full wet tyres, but with the weather worsening it wasn't enough to make Q3.

Q1 started in wet conditions but by the midway point the track had dried enough for slick tyres. That prompted 19 drivers to switch to ultra-softs while Ricciardo was alone in choosing the soft compound.

For fear of the rain coming back, drivers just remained on track and in the end Stoffel Vandoorne, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez and Sergey Sirotkin were the five drivers with the slowest times.

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