Saturday 31 July 2021
Schumacher’s crash has consequences
Pole and strategic advantage go to Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is starting the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position. The Formula 1 record champion wins qualifying ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, World Championship leader Max Verstappen only remains third – and a strategic disadvantage.
The Hungarian Grand Prix is considered to be one of the dates in the Formula 1 calendar where Saturday and thus qualifying are particularly important. The Hungaroring is notorious for barely offering any opportunities to overtake and therefore Mercedes will be relieved to have taken the front row of the grid in qualifying. With a clear best time of 1: 15.419, Lewis Hamilton secured the ideal starting position for setting his next record with his ninth win on the track near Budapest on Sunday (3 p.m. / Sky and in the live ticker at ntv.de) – namely the one for the most successes on the same course (nine in total).
Valtteri Bottas completes the first row, significantly slower with +0.315 seconds. “It’s great to finally be back in the front row with both cars. We haven’t had that for a long time,” said Hamilton afterwards. World Championship leader Max Verstappen improved his Red Bull in the last attempt, but not enough to break the Mercedes duo. “We were a bit slower the entire weekend, that was confirmed in qualifying. Let’s see what is possible from third place.”
The gap of +0.421 seconds on Hamilton is one thing, but the decisive factor for the outcome of the race is that the Dutchman has to start with the red tire and thus the softest. While both Mercedes drive off on the middle yellow compound and thus the tire, which is slower for one lap, but also more durable. The direct duel at the start is thus expanded to include a strategic component.
Sergio Pérez landed in fourth place in the second Red Bull, but the Mexican could not keep up with the speed of the top trio and was more than a second slower than Hamilton on his fastest lap. Pierre Gasly finished fifth in the AlphaTauri, while McLaren driver Lando Norris secured sixth on the grid, ahead of Charles Leclerc Ferrari. All three moved within only 14 thousandths of a second. The Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso finished eighth and ninth, while Sebastian Vettel started from tenth in the Aston Martin.
The four-time world champion, whose helmet shines in rainbow colors as a symbol of tolerance and against the anti-LGTBQ policies of the Hungarian government, won the team-internal duel against Lance Stroll, who finished twelfth. “We struggled a bit to find the right feeling for the front tires,” said Vettel at Sky: “Overtaking will be difficult. We’re trying to keep the place.”
Mick Schumacher, on the other hand, was only a spectator in qualifying. In the third free practice session, the 22-year-old pushed his Haas into the lane at turn eleven. “I’m okay,” he then radioed to the pits. In the accident, Schumacher was exposed to 31 times his body weight. However, the damage to the car was too great. The team struggled, the Formula 1 newcomer waited with a helmet on to finally get in, but the first qualifying section ended without a meter driven. This leaves 20th place, the last in the field.