What a difference a day makes. Mercedes looked third-best in dry conditions on Friday, but pole position suddenly became a possibility when the heavens opened during qualifying on Saturday, drenching the Hungaroring. And just as in Germany last weekend, it was Lewis Hamilton who rose to the occasion, seeing off the challenge of team mate Valtteri Bottas to book his fifth pole position of the season.
“I had no idea in qualifying that I would be shooting for the front row, for pole,” said Hamilton. “We couldn’t have expected this, honestly.
“The Ferraris have been quickest all weekend, and we were just trying our best to be as close to them as possible. Then the heavens opened and it was fair game...”
All three segments of qualifying were hampered by rain, with the intensity peaking in Q2 before abating slightly by the end of Q3. One of the pre-race favourites – Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo – fell by the wayside in Q2, but Mercedes and Ferrari got both of their driver safely through to Q3. It was here, when it mattered, that Mercedes got everything right.
“It’s really difficulty to arrive at a corner and know how much grip you’re going to have,” said Hamilton, who took pole away from Bottas, who in turn had snatched it from Kimi Raikkonen.
“That’s massively challenging. Then when it got extreme, you’re just looking for a clean line.