Nico Rosberg has a lucky day taking his 26th pole in Hungary
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News July 23, 2016 Updated: 3:43 PM
A very lucky Nico Rosberg managed to take his 26th career pole position from teammate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring.
The race was postponed due to a rainstorm ahead of the start and the tricky drying conditions throughout. Hamilton was the quicker of the two Mercedes his first attempt in Q3, but while on his final flying lap he encountered Fernando Alonso who had spun across the exit kerb of Turn 9.
“That was a pretty exciting qualifying session. It was crazy conditions in the beginning with all the rain and the big puddles and a lot of cars went off. My car felt very good in the wet – but when it dried out that was the best situation for us as we know the Red Bulls are strong in the wet. I gave it everything at the end of my last lap and it worked out. A big thanks to the team, as it was a great team effort to make sure I always had good track position. It’s a great feeling to be on pole here in Hungary. Tomorrow it will be a big battle against Lewis and the Red Bulls, so I look forward to that,” said Rosberg.
Being directly behind Alonso, this caused Hamilton to back off, meaning he was not able to improve on his first run. This allowed Rosberg, who was far enough behind him on the track to allow for the yellow flags for Alonso's spin to clear, to exit Turn 8 and enter Turn 9 undisturbed. Later, Rosberg was called to the stewards to explain his side of the alleged breach after he set the fastest middle sector of all on his lap, the stewards said"the telemetry demonstrated that the driver reduced speed significantly into Turn 8.
As a result, Rosberg's fourth pole position of the season will stand heading into tomorrow’s race.
The quickly evolving track conditions on the final run meant Rosberg was 0.143s quicker than Hamilton despite encountering traffic in the final sector.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was also a victim of Alonso's spin and had to abandon his lap and finish third, while his teammate Max Verstappen got things wrong on his attempt when he crossed the line to start his final attempt just after the session had ended.
“When I saw Fernando had spun in Turn 9, I was furious as I was up on my lap by quite a bit and when I heard Nico’s pole time, then the time was definitely there. How affected him or Lewis were (by the yellow flag), I don’t know, but I think we had better than a 19.9 in us,” said Ricciardo.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel ran into slow traffic in the final sector on his lap where he finished fifth ahead of an impressive lap by Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz. Alonso took seventh ahead of teammate Jenson Button, while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas for Williams rounded out the top ten.
Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean finished 11th as drivers consistently improved on the damp track. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez for Force India failed to make Q2 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in 14th. Raikkonen will start ahead of Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Nasr who finished 15th and 16th.
“It was close. We were only one-tenth off of Lewis’ P10 time. All things considered, to be that close, it’s a good thing. We successfully made all the right decisions at the right time in qualifying, including tire choices. It was a very difficult qualifying session, but we showed how much we’ve improved as a team from day one through today. We were perfect today in our execution,” said Grosjean.
Q1 was postponed four times under red flags, which lasted nearly an hour due to undriveable conditions from wet weather. Saber driver Marcus Ericsson was a victim of the rain as he lost the rear of his car at Turn 8 and slammed into the barriers as the track was starting to dry. When the session restarted, a handful of drivers gambled to run intermediate tires (Green stripe) rather than full wet tires (Blue stripe). Williams driver Felipe Massa was one of them however the gamble did not pay off as he lost the rear of the car coming out of Turn 4.
The session started back up with Manor’s Rio Haryanto crashed into the same barrier as Ericsson hit earlier in the same session. Both Renaults failed to set a time and was unable to make it into Q2.