2021 Hungarian GP Qualifying - Mercedes lockout front row as Sainz brings out the red flags

Lewis Hamilton managed to make it back-to-back pole positions as the defending World Champion managed to make it a lockout for Mercedes on the front row of the grid. It was misery for Red Bull as they could only manage the third and fourth place for the race tomorrow.

Q1

One man who wouldn't make it to track for Qualifying was Mick Schumacher, as a result of the Haas driver spinning into the barriers at turn 11. The young German is likely to face a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox replacement from the crash, which further limited his running at the track where he got his maiden win in F2 back in 2019.

The initial benchmark time was set by Yuki Tsunoda in the Alpha Tauri, as the Japanese driver looked to get some more track time after his spin in FP3. He would set a time of 1:28.163, which moments later would be toppled by Kimi Raikkonen, with the Finn's teammate Antonio Giovinazzi following him into second place.

Before long the two Mercedes were on track, setting purple sectors across the board, both going over 1.5 seconds quicker than the Alfa Romeo's. The fun at Mercedes would be short-lived, as Max Verstappen managed to take over at the top by 0.210 of a second, ahead of title rival Lewis Hamilton. As the clock ticked over the halfway point, all 19 cars were on the track battling for the chance to get through to Q2.

As the session crept into the last five minutes, it was becoming more apparent that the short nature of the track was going to lead to some Austria-style car parking In the final sector, as the drivers battle for clean air and a flying lap. Carlos Sainz had to take evasive action when leaving the pitlane to not get in the way of the flying Alpha Tauri due to the volume of cars on track.

The last two minutes of the session was the usual scrap between the bottom 11 cars for who makes it to the next session, with all 11 cars pushing to the limit. For the first time, this season George Russell would not be taking part in Q2, with the Williams confined to 17th place for the start tomorrow, however, teammate Nicholas Latifi would still finish behind the Brit.

Eliminated from Q3

16th - Yuki Tsunoda 

17th - George Russell

18th - Nicholas Latifi

19th - Nikita Mazepin 

20th - Mick Schumacher

Q2

The top three from Q1, Verstappen, Hamilton, and Bottas were the first three cars out on track for Q2, all donning the yellow walled medium tires, as the two teams look to start on a more stable compound of tires for the race tomorrow. The midfield teams opted for the soft tires as the likes of Alpha Tauri, Aston Martin, and McLaren all looked to get both cars into Q3.

The surprises of the session early on belonged to Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso, as both drivers managed to set purple second sectors, and Alonso managed to crack the top three.

However shortly after the session would be red-flagged, as Sainz lost control of the car going through the final hairpin, slamming the left-hand side of the car into the Armco. The front wing of the Ferrari looked to be hanging off, dislodged underneath the car, meaning the Spaniard's session ended with him down in 14th position, with just under seven minutes remaining in the session.

The battle for the top ten was wide open as the drivers looked to get through to Q1, with all the midfield teams vying for position for the race tomorrow afternoon. It was to be another tough end to a Q2 session for Daniel Ricciardo as the Aussie found himself just outside of the top ten, half a second behind Norris. This was down to Sebastian Vettel putting in a good lap to leapfrog the McLaren driver into 11th place.

Eliminated in Q2

11th - Daniel Ricciardo

12th - Lance Stroll

13th - Kimi Raikkonen 

14th - Antonio Giovinazzi

15th - Carlos Sainz.

Q3

As the final session of Saturday got underway there was a lot of tension in and around the Hungaroring, with Mercedes and Red Bull looking to use two different strategies for the race tomorrow afternoon. Both Bottas and Hamilton were faster in the first sector of the lap than Verstappen, as the first laps filed in it was Hamilton who had claimed provision pole.

The one driver running in the gap was Vettel, who only had one set of fresh soft tires available to him, meaning he had to make the most of his single lap. The German could only manage 8th position, which would match his best start last time out in Silverstone.

The drivers complained that the track was changing throughout the lap, in relation to the wind and heat that was impacting their times. With Charles Leclerc being the most vocal over the team radio about the differences to the earlier sessions.

Due to Hamilton's games on the out-lap, Sergio Perez missed his chance to put in a flying lap, meaning his best placement could be the fourth place, as a result, it was a straight shootout between Hamilton and Verstappen, however, there was nothing the Dutchman could do. With Mercedes completing a front-row lockout for Mercedes. 

Top 10 for the 2021 Hungarian GP

1st - Lewis Hamilton

2nd - Valtteri Bottas

3rd - Max Verstappen 

4th - Sergio Perez

5th - Pierre Gasly

6th - Lando Norris 

7th - Charles Leclerc

8th - Esteban Ocon

9th - Fernando Alonso

10th - Sebastian Vettel

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