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BUDAPEST, Hungary – Briton George Russell will start from the lead position in a first Formula 1 Grand Prix, as the Mercedes driver won in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Russell beat Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc with a time of 1:17.377, just 44 thousandths better than Sainz and 190 thousandths ahead of Leclerc. At the same time, he offered a first leading position to Mercedes this season.
“Whooooo, come on! Yes! Hahaha. Wonderful! Magnificent”, exclaimed Russell before jumping into the arms of his mechanics on his return to the pits.
The speed shown by Russell’s Mercedes was all the more astonishing as Russell had described Friday’s second practice session as “disastrous”. The Mercedes then found themselves about a second behind Leclerc.
“For us, as a team, it’s huge. We stayed here until 11pm last night scratching our heads. We were pretty lost, said Russell. To come back today and find yourself in a leading position, it’s a phenomenal feeling. Everything worked 100%. »
McLaren’s Lando Norris will start alongside Leclerc on the second row.
Driver standings leader Max Verstappen was plagued by mechanical issues late in Q3 and was unable to attempt a fast final lap. He settled for 10th place. His teammate Sergio Perez was eliminated in Q2 and he will start 11th.
Russell’s Mercedes team-mate, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, was annoyed by a problem with his drag reduction system and he finished seventh.
Quebec driver Lance Stroll of Aston Martin finished 14th. Ontario’s Nicholas Latifi of Williams finished 20th and last.
The rain had complicated the work of the pilots during the last practice session, earlier on Saturday. Latifi took the opportunity to cause a surprise and register the best time of the sequence, ahead of Leclerc and the other Williams driver, Alex Albon.
Despite some dark clouds over the Hongaroring, conditions were dry in qualifying and the track got faster and faster.
After his first pole position, Russell will aim for a first victory in F1 on Sunday.
“I hope to be able to go it alone tomorrow. I’m already thinking about what I’ll have to do to win, he said. Saturday’s results are not very significant in the end. It is on Sunday that points and trophies are won. »
Verstappen, the reigning world champion, started the weekend 63 points clear of Leclerc in the drivers standings.
Leclerc is keen to redeem himself, as he finished the French Grand Prix inside the safety wall last week following a pilot error while leading the race.
Sainz called his pace “nothing special”, but conceded that Russell had “deserved the lead position”. For his part, Leclerc claimed to have “suffered a lot in Q3” since “we were not in the right window with the tires”.
At least he will have Verstappen where he wants, seven cars behind him.
“Max might need a few laps to get ahead,” said Leclerc.
Classification of the 3rd part (Q3) of the qualifying session :
1. George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) 1:17.377
2. Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP/Ferrari) 1:17.421
3. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:17.567
4. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:17.769
5. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault) 1:18.018
6. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault) 1:18.078
7. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:18.142
8. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo) 1:18.157
9. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:18.379
10. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:18.823
Eliminated in Q2 :
11. Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull) 1:18.516
12. Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Alfa Romeo) 1:18.573
13. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) 1:18.825
14. Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:19.137
15. Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari) 1:19.202
Eliminated in Q1 :
16. Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Red Bull) 1:19.240
17. Alexander Albon (THA/Williams-Mercedes) 1:19.256
18. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:19.273
19. Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Red Bull) 1:19.527
20. Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes) 1:19.570