Hungary Qualifying: Russell takes stunning first career pole

Henry Valantine
George Russell suiting up before climbing in the car. Austria qualifying July 2022

Mercedes driver George Russell suiting up before climbing in the car. Austria July 2022

George Russell stunned the field in qualifying in Hungary, taking his first career pole out of the blue with a brilliant final lap in Q3.

Russell and Mercedes had been out-paced by Ferrari throughout the session, before the Briton pulled out a superb lap at the end of Q3 to beat Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc and deny them an all-Ferrari front row for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

There was disappointment at Red Bull though, as Max Verstappen suffered a loss of power in Q3 and will line up 10th, while Sergio Perez was knocked out in Q2 and will start one place behind his team-mate.

Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon both performed well to round out the top five on the grid, while Lewis Hamilton was hampered by a DRS issue on his final run, which left him down in P7.

But the weather forecast was the focus of the pre-session attention, after Nicholas Latifi took a surprise top spot in a wet FP3 hour earlier in the afternoon.

Qualifying started in the dry though, and with dark clouds hanging over the Hungaroring, it is unsurprising that most of the drivers went straight out on track to get laps in the bank in potentially changeable conditions.

This included Sebastian Vettel, whose Aston Martin crew worked at a rate of knots to get his car fixed after his crash in FP3, with the German himself lending a helping hand to his mechanics as they scrambled to get ready in time, and doing so impressively.

In the scrap to avoid the drop zone towards the end of Q1, lap times quickly tumbled as rubber was relaid and the bottom five changed continually as the clock ticked down – with every driver out on track to try and improve.

But Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon, Vettel, Pierre Gasly and Latifi were those to miss out, in another tough qualifying session for an AlphaTauri team struggling for form.

Gasly lost out on his place in qualifying after his fastest effort was deleted and, while Latifi set the fastest first sector of anyone, a big snap of oversteer out of Turn 14 cost him the time he needed to advance.

Onwards to Q2 though, with Verstappen and Fernando Alonso becoming the first drivers to dip into the 1:17s this weekend, with Perez seemingly having work to do after having his first lap time deleted, but it was later reinstated by the stewards upon further inspection.

But as the Red Bull driver could not improve on his second run, he faced a nervy wait before Q2 ended, and improvements from Valtteri Bottas Esteban Ocon duly knocked the Mexican out in disappointing circumstances.

Perez felt he was impeded by Magnussen on his final flying lap, but he was forced to sit on the sidelines for Q3, with Zhou Guanyu, Magnussen, Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher also dropping out before the shootout for pole position.

But in the final part of qualifying, it was Sainz who came out of the blocks quickest, with his 1:17.505 being almost half a second faster than Ferrari team-mate Leclerc on their first runs.

Verstappen could only go seventh on his first attempt, with a big lock-up at Turn 2 costing him more than a second in sector one, leaving him with work to do if he were to challenge for pole.

But when the final runs started, the World Champion then reported a loss of power over team radio as he looked to warm up for a final tilt in qualifying.

Sainz improved on his time and looked to have kept Leclerc at bay before the session ended, but Russell snuck out of the blue to pip the Ferrari drivers to pole by just 0.044s.

He did not set a single ‘purple’ sector (fastest of any driver) on his pole lap, but the combination of his sector times were enough to give the Mercedes driver his first ever Formula 1 pole position.

Qualifying classification

1 George Russell Mercedes 1:17.377
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.044s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.190s
4 Lando Norris McLaren 0.392s
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 0.641s
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine 0.701s
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.765s
8 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 0.780s
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.002s
10 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.446s
11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:18.516
12 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 0.057s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 0.309s
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 0.621s
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 0.686s
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:19.240
17 Alex Albon Williams 0.016s
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 0.033s
19 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.287s
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 0.330s


Looking ahead to the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungarian Grand Prix is the final race before Formula 1's summer break.