Fernando Alonso admitted his surprise at hearing that George Russell took pole position in Hungary on Saturday, so much so that he could not quite believe his ears.
Russell took his first ever pole in Formula 1 in stunning fashion, not setting a single purple sector but coming out on top against the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc around the Hungaroring, in a fully unexpected result.
Alonso qualified sixth on Saturday, but he admitted he was not quite expecting to hear Russell’s name mentioned as the polesitter – despite the struggles of others around them.
“I just found out now because on the radio I didn’t understand who was on pole,” Alonso said after qualifying, quoted by GPFans. “I’m surprised for sure [but] happy for him.
“[It was] unexpected because Ferrari looked very strong and Max as well so Mercedes were struggling a little bit.
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“We were thinking we could be in front of them, in fact we are in front of Lewis [Hamilton], so to see him in pole position, it has to be a great lap.
“I am looking forward to watching it.”
Both Alpine drivers had strong sessions as well, with Alonso and team-mate Esteban Ocon, last year’s winner around the Hungaroring, locking out the third row.
The two-time World Champion was enthusiastic about the pace he showed in a wet FP3 session as well as in qualifying, which has given him heart heading into Sunday’s race.
Alongside that, the mixed-up grid will provide a different challenge for those in the top 10, with McLaren’s Lando Norris having taken a place on the second row.
Alonso feels he could be quicker in race trim than some cars in front of him, so there is plenty to play for on Sunday.
“I was the only one switching the intermediates on so I had a fantastic day wet and dry,” Alonso said.
“I think tomorrow is going to be a long race, [with] some traffic in front of us that maybe we are a little bit faster than.
“There are some very fast cars behind us – [Max] Verstappen, [Sergio] Perez and Lewis, if he doesn’t pass us at the start – so it is going to be an interesting race because there are a couple of cars out of position.”
Looking ahead to the Hungarian Grand Prix
The Hungarian Grand Prix is the final race before Formula 1's summer break.