Hungarian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton stuns old enemy Max Verstappen with epic Q3 lap

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, celebrates pole. Hungary, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, raises his arms to celebrate pole position. Hungary, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton brought Max Verstappen’s pole position run to an end, 0.003s up on the Red Bull driver at Hungarian Grand Prix as Formula 1 trialled a new system.

While there were shocks in the opening two segments, it momentarily looked as if Q3 on the soft tyres would yield the traditional Verstappen pole position only for Hamilton to nip ahead by a mere 0.003s to secure his first pole position of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified P13 on his Formula 1 return with AlphaTauri while George Russell was the big shock of the session as traffic meant last year’s pole-sitter finishes down in 18th place.

George Russell the big shock in Q1

Tweaking qualifying in the hope of creating a surprise or three, Formula 1 had its first trial of the new format at the Hungaroring in which the drivers all had to run the hard tyres in Q1, the mediums in Q2 and the softs in Q3.

Also limited to just 11 sets of tyres, of which the drivers had only four soft sets, it meant a change in the usual Friday practice programmes while, starting off with Q1, it opened the door for the drivers to do long runs in the first qualifying segment on tyres that would last – or just throw in the traditional one-lap flyer.

Sergio Perez, seeking his first Q3 berth since his Miami GP pole position, got the timesheet rolling with a 1:19.2, but was down to sixth when all 20 drivers laid down their opening markers with Valtteri Bottas P1 with a 1:18.8.

With most of the drivers opting for two or three quick laps, Kevin Magnussen, Alex Albon, Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant all lost times for exceeding track limits while Max Verstappen went quickest, Bottas improved but dropped to second and Perez shot up to third.

Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda were the first into the pits for new hard tyres, climbing to eighth and fourth places respectively. That saw others come in for fresh rubber with Zhou Guanyu up to P1 with Perez second and Lando Norris P… nope, P13 as he lost his lap time for track limits.

As the track continued to ramp up George Russell was the big shock with the Mercedes driver only 18th quickest. He failed to make it out of Q1, blaming traffic, out along with Albon, Tsunoda, Magnussen and Sargeant. Ricciardo made it through in 15th place, 0.013s faster than his AlphaTauri team-mate to make the team’s first Q2 showing in four races.

Carlos Sainz out in 11th place

Heading out on the medium tyres, Perez was one of the first out as the Mexican driver looked to lay down a banker lap, a 1:17.6. His team-mate Verstappen almost immediately overhauled him only to lose his time for exceeding the track limits at Turn 5, leaving the Dutchman without a time on the board. Lance Stroll also had a lap time deleted.

At the front McLaren went 1-2 with Norris and Oscar Piastri ahead of Perez with Verstappen opting to pit for a brand new set of mediums as the driver, P15 without a time, looked to book his place in Q3. Clearly being respectful of the track limits, the reigning World Champion went second, 0.2s down on Norris with the McLaren driver staying in the pits while his rivals had a second go of it with Lewis Hamilton up to second.

Carlos Sainz improved his lap time only to be booted out of qualifying by his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, the Spaniard eliminated along with Esteban Ocon, Ricciardo, Stroll and Pierre Gasly with the latter losing his lap time for track limits. recommends

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Pole position for X

Perez, in Q3 for the first time in six race weekends, was the first out on track for the soft tyre pole position shoot-out with the driver putting in a 1:17.1 but that was soon surpassed by his team-mate Verstappen with the championship leader up by half a second ahead of his team-mate. Hamilton, Norris and Fernando Alonso slotted in between them with the Mercedes driver 0.1s down after the first run.

Returning to the pits for fresh tyres, it was all to play for with Verstappen looking to continue his run of pole positions while Hamilton was seeking his first of the season. The Red Bulls were two of the first cars out for a second run with Hamilton the very last to leave the pits.

With Verstappen unable to improve on his lap time it opened the door for Norris and Hamilton with the McLaren driver falling short by 0.082s. And then came Hamilton, the Mercedes crossing the line with a 1:16.609 to beat Verstappen by 0.003s to secure his first pole position of this season.

Norris had to settle for third and will make up the second row of the grid with Piastri, the McLaren’s ahead of Guanyu and Leclerc.


1 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes 1:16.609
2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.003
3 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.085
4 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.296
5 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +0.362
6 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.383
7 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.425 6
8 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.426
9 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.436
10 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +0.577
11 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari 1:17.703
12 Esteban OCON Alpine 1:17.841
13 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri 1:18.002
14 Lance STROLL Aston Martin 1:18.144
15 Pierre GASLY Alpine 1:18.217
16 Alexander ALBON William 1:18.917
17 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri 1:18.929
18 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:19.081
19 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team 1:19.206
20 Logan SARGEANT Williams 1:19.248

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