Rosberg snatches pole after dramatic qualifying

© XPB 

Nico Rosberg snatched pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix after a dramatic and delayed qualifying session at the Hungaroring.

Heavy rain saw the start of the session delayed before a number of crashes contributed to four red flag periods during Q1. Then a drying track added further drama throughout the session, before Rosberg benefitted from yellow flags to take pole position at the death.

Lewis Hamilton was on provisional pole position but was following Fernando Alonso on his final lap when the Spaniard spun in the middle sector. Many drivers had to back off, but Alonso then recovered from the outside of the track and the green flag emerged just after Rosberg had started the sector.

Rosberg went on to set the fastest middle sector and beat Hamilton - who had been set to improve before slowing - by 0.143s. Daniel Ricciardo will start third having also been a threat throughout the session but backing off after Alonso's spin at Turn 9.

Max Verstappen will start fourth having just missed the chequered flag to start a final run in Q3, with Sebastian Vettel fifth and Carlos Sainz an impressive sixth. The two McLarens are set to start from seventh and eighth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas.

Q2 started in wet conditions but required a switch to the supersofts. With seven minutes remaining, Bottas first to fit slicks in Q2 and duly went to the top of the times as the track dried, with the whole field soon following suit. With the track wet off-line, any mistake would be heavily punished and Ricciardo ran wide at Turn 1, needing a final attempt to progress.

With the track drying, the last across the line would benefit, and Kimi Raikkonen was caught out by being the first to complete his final lap. The Finn went fastest at that stage, but was duly bumped down to 14th place by the chequered flag. Hamilton followed Ricciardo in running wide at Turn 1 on the start of his final attempt, but improved enough in the last two sectors to squeeze through in 10th place.

Romain Grosjean was just 0.1s off Hamilton in 11th place at the flag, with Daniil Kvyat 12th ahead of Sergio Perez. Perez was the driver who could have ended Hamilton’s session but the Mexican had a slow middle sector which cost him. Raikkonen, Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Nasr were the other drivers eliminated.

While qualifying was meant to start at 14:00 local time, Q1 did not finish until 15:11 and even then it was curtailed by an accident. A thunderstorm an hour before qualifying saw torrential rain and led to a 20-minute delay before the start of Q1, with drivers only getting time for one timed lap before further heavy rain caused a red flag.

Once the session restarted, Marcus Ericsson then crashed at Turn 8 to bring proceeding to a halt again as he buried the front right corner of his Sauber in the wall. At that point there were nine minutes remaining - half the length of Q1 - and with the sun now out the track started to dry. A few teams opted for intermediates on the next restart, but Felipe Massa duly lost control at Turn 4 and hit the barrier on intermediates, bringing out the red flag for a third time with over five minutes still to run.

Intermediates were required when the track went green again but Rio Haryanto was next to be caught out by the condition and spun into the barrier at the same point as Ericsson. The Manor went in rear first before damaging the front end too, and the final red flag - with less than 90 seconds remaining, brought a premature end to the session.

The stoppage cost Renault, with neither Jolyon Palmer nor Kevin Magnussen having completed their laps before Haryanto crashed, leaving both in the drop zone. Pascal Wehrlein was the other driver to drop out alongside the three drivers who damaged their cars.

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Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.302 1:22.806 1:19.965
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.210 1:24.836 1:20.108
03 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:39.968 1:23.234 1:20.280
04 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:40.424 1:22.660 1:20.557
05 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.718 1:24.082 1:20.874
06 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:36.115 1:24.734 1:21.131
07 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:35.165 1:23.816 1:21.211
08 Jenson Button McLaren 1:37.983 1:24.456 1:21.597
09 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:41.471 1:23.901 1:21.823
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:42.758 1:24.506 1:22.182
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:35.906 1:24.941
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:36.714 1:25.301
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:41.411 1:25.416
14 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.853 1:25.435
15 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:38.959 1:26.189
16 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:37.772 1:27.063
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:43.965
18 Felipe Massa Williams 1:43.999
19 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:44.543
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:46.984
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:47.343
22 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:50.189