The Saturday afternoon grid decider is particularly important here, given the difficulty in overtaking on this tight and twisty track and in the torrid heat of the Hungaroring, most of the drivers looked as though they’d done a race distance by the end of the session when they got out of their cars.
The heat didn’t seem to bother Max Verstappen much, but the track temperature made life difficult for him in the final hour of free practice in the morning. However, on the short qualifying runs, the STR10 was much more to his liking and he made it all the way through to Q3 and the final top ten shoot out, eventually securing a place on the fifth row of the grid, posting the ninth best time. Carlos Sainz was less happy with his car and didn’t get the most out of it this afternoon. Nevertheless, he gave it his best shot to end up 12th in Q2.
Everything is still possible for the 72 lap marathon tomorrow, when cars and drivers will be battling the heat as well as themselves. The most likely scenario with these massively high track temperatures is a two stop race, thus opening up all sorts of interesting strategic possibilities.
Lewis Hamilton secured his ninth pole position from ten qualifying sessions this year and once again, his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg ensured the Anglo-German team locked out the front row.
The familiar picture continues with Sebastian Vettel third for Ferrari, while Daniel Ricciardo confirmed that, on a track where power is less important than at the past few races, the Red Bull is a bit more competitive, with the Australian setting the fourth fastest time. The third row tomorrow will feature Kimi Raikkonen fifth in the other Ferrari and fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas sixth for Williams.