George Russell exults, Max Verstappen less: the Briton won his first pole position in Formula 1 on Saturday after qualifying for the Hungarian GP, far ahead of the Dutchman, current leader in the championship but only 10th on the grid.
The poleman still can’t believe it: “yesterday was probably our most difficult Friday of the whole season, we were still there at 11 p.m., scratching our heads, lost”, he explains. “Coming back 24 hours later and taking pole is something.”
Thanks to his first pole in F1, George Russell, who will start alongside the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, also offers a welcome success to Mercedes. After a complicated start to the year for the reigning world champion team, it is now only looking for a first victory in 2022.
Since the start of the season, the German manufacturer has been struggling to get rid of the problems that prevent it from competing with Red Bull and Ferrari.
This pole, which will certainly give him a breath of fresh air, does it herald a return to the forefront? “I don’t know to be honest because we have to watch and understand where this turn is coming from,” said Russell.
In Hungary, we must not forget that the Hungaroring is also the kingdom of its other driver, Lewis Hamilton who has won there eight times (a record). This year, however, things are not as easy for the seven-time world champion who will start from 7th place on Sunday.
– Verstappen “frustrated” –
On a dry track after heavy showers that fell until the start of the afternoon, the second line returned on Saturday to Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 3rd, ahead of Briton Lando Norris (McLaren).
Leclerc, who occupies the provisional second place in the championship behind Verstappen, would have hoped to take his 8th pole of the season, but the Scuderia driver can however be reassured to see his rival’s Red Bull at a distance from his single-seater: the Dutchman does not will only start from the fifth row, ahead of his teammate Sergio Pérez, 11th.
“I don’t know exactly what happened, I came out of the pits (shortly before the end of qualifying, editor’s note) and there was no power in the car”, explained Verstappen, admitting “frustrated “.
For the moment, 63 points separate Verstappen from Leclerc before the 13th round out of 22. And it is indeed their duel which risks once again being in the foreground on the Hungaroring route, not conducive to overtaking.
A duel which will above all have a taste of revenge for the Monegasque, aware that he lost big in France last weekend, after having abandoned while leading the race.
To catch up – and upset Verstappen before the summer break – he will have to win on Sunday so as not to let his championship rival slip away for good.
“If we win all the races and he always finishes second, then we can still win”, has already calculated the Scuderia driver, aware that this is a “very optimistic objective”.
– Ocon 5th –
Between the two strong men of the season, the Alpines of Frenchman Esteban Ocon – who signed the first victory of his F1 career in Hungary in 2021 – and Spaniard Fernando Alonso will start from the third row.
The Canadian Nicholas Latifi (Williams), author at the beginning of the afternoon of the best time of the last tests disputed on a wet track, will start last after having signed the worst time of the qualifications because of a pilot error.
He will start behind the other Frenchman on the grid, Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), 19th only after seeing his best time canceled in Q1.
Outside the circuits, the Formula 1 promoter launched a campaign called “Drive it out” on Saturday morning to fight against abusive behavior on the sidelines of the GP.
In a message posted on social networks, F1 boss Stefano Domenicali, FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem and the 20 drivers on the grid called for “respect” after behavior deemed “unacceptable” by supporters present at the Grand Price from Austria mid-July.
Many messages on social networks had reported sexist, racist and homophobic insults, especially towards the pilots and between fans.
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