2016 HUNGARIAN GP: NICO ROSBERG WITH SENSATIONAL POLE

Nico Rosberg claimed his fourth pole position of the season in the final moments of a marathon rain-hit qualifying session as yellows flags behind the German ruled out final flying lap improvements for the German’s rivals. After the first runs of Q3 four-time Hungarian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton was in provisional pole position and as the final flying laps began the Briton went quickest in the first sector. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, too, was set to improve on his first-run time of 1:20.280, but then in the middle sector Fernando Alonso spun just ahead of Hamilton. The resulting yellow flags scuppered any chance of the defending champion or Ricciardo improving.

As Alonso recovered the green flags were soon waved just as Rosberg began the sector and he crossed the line to take his first pole since last month’s European Grand Prix. Behind Ricciardo, Max Verstappen was fourth in the second Red Bull ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Torrential rain in the hour before qualifying was due to begin made the track undriveable and there were two 10-minute delays before Q1 eventually got underway. There was more rain to come, however, and a heavy shower a few minutes in brought out the red flags as the conditions again became impossible. The conditions proved tricky however and there were three more red flag stoppages as Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Williams’ Felipe Massa and Manor’s Rio Haryanto all crashed out. In the end Q1 lasted more than 50 minutes with Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, Massa, Kevin Magnussen in the second Renault, Ericsson, Pascal Wehrelin in the second Manor and Haryanto exiting from P17 back.

Q2 began in wet conditions but with the track drying quickly the switch to supersoft tyres wasn’t long in arriving and when it did the times began to tumble. Thereafter the middle session was about timing and being careful to avoid mistakes. Two drivers who came close to failing the latter condition were Hamilton and Ricciardo. Riccirado ran wide at Turn One late in the session and required a last-ditch lap to vault from P16 to P3.

Hamilton, meanwhile, made a similar mistake in Turn One and though the rest of his lap was clean and quick, the error saw him squeeze through to Q3 in P10 with just a tenth of a second in hand over Haas’ Romain Grosjean. One driver who did lose out was Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn finished Q2 in P14 and was eliminated along with Grosjean in P11, Daniil Kvyat in P12, Sergio Perez in P13, with Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, in 15th and 16th respectively. 

2016 Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying
 P.     DRIVER           TEAM        TIME       GAP 
 1. Nico Rosberg      Mercedes AMG 1:19.965
 2. Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes AMG 1:20.108 +  0.143
 3. Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull     1:20.280 +  0.315
 4. Max Verstappen    Red Bull     1:20.557 +  0.592
 5. Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari      1:20.874 +  0.909
 6. Carlos Sainz JR.  Toro Rosso   1:21.131 +  1.166
 7. Fernando Alonso   McLaren      1:21.211 +  1.246
 8. Jenson Button     McLaren      1:21.597 +  1.632
 9. Nico Hulkenberg   Force India  1:22.823 +  1.858
10. Valtteri Bottas   Williams     1:23.182 +  2.217
   Q2 Fastest time: Max Verstappen 1:22.660         
11. Romain Grosjean   Haas         1:24.941 +  2.281
12. Daniil Kvyat      Toro Rosso   1:25.301 +  2.641
13. Sergio Perez      Force India  1:25.416 +  2.756
14. Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari      1:25.435 +  2.775
15. Esteban Gutierrez Haas         1:26.189 +  3.529
16. Felipe Nasr       Sauber       1:27.063 +  4.403
   Q1 Fastest time: Nico Rosberg 1:33.302           
17. Jolyon Palmer     Renault      1:43.965 + 10.667
18. Felipe Massa      Williams     1:43.999 + 10.697
19. Kevin Magnussen   Renault      1:44.543 + 11.241
20. Marcus Ericsson   Sauber       1:46.984 + 13.682
21. Pascal Wehrlein   Manor        1:47.343 + 14.041
22. Rio Haryanto Manor             1:50.189 + 16.887
    107% time: 1:39.833
* 2014: Nico Rosberg - Mercedes AMG - 1:22.715
* 2015: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1:22.020