BUDAPEST, Hungary – Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and championship leader Max Verstappen lagged in third place on Saturday.
Hamilton’s 101st pole position in Formula One, which extends the record, puts him in a solid position for a record-extending 100th victory at a circuit where he has won the last three races and a record eight times.
“ Great efforts guys, absolutely fantastic work, ” Hamilton said on the radio after his third pole of the season.
Hamilton was .315 ahead of Bottas and .421 ahead of Verstappen.
“ It was an incredible qualifying lap, ” Hamilton said as sections of the crowd mocked him, a week after he was found guilty of the crash that sent Verstappen out of the British GP.
Verstappen was looking for a sixth pole this season for Red Bull. His teammate Sergio Pérez was fourth.
Verstappen led Q1, the first section of qualifying, for Hamilton and Q2 for Norris. The orange-shirted Dutch fans in a section of the main stand roared every time he passed them on the long straight.
But Hamilton and Bottas were faster than Verstappen in their first races in Q3.
“ I don’t know why, but there is a huge lack of control in this period, ” Verstappen told his team by radio.
Pole could prove crucial on Sunday as the strong and narrow Hungaroring circuit of 4.4 kilometers (2.7 miles) is possibly the most difficult track to pass after Monaco.
About midway through Q2, Carlos Sainz Jr. lost the back of his Ferrari and slid into a wall. The front wing fell off the car and slid under the front tires. The Spaniard ran away and will start from a humble 15th spot on Sunday.
His teammate Charles Leclerc, who has two poles this season and nine in his career, qualified seventh behind Norris and AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly.
In the standings, Verstappen is eight points ahead of seven-time champion Hamilton. He leads Hamilton 5-4 in wins and 5-3 in poles.
Mick Schumacher starts from 20th and last place. He was left out of qualifying after crashing earlier in final practice and his Haas team was unable to repair his car in time.
Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in the third and final practice.
He placed a narrow .088 ahead of Verstappen and .229 ahead of Bottas.
Sainz Jr. and Leclerc followed in fourth and fifth, respectively, in hot but slightly cloudy conditions.
The session came to a halt with about 15 minutes remaining when Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher, rolled off the track and hit a wall of tires. He was unhurt, but damaged the left side and lost the front wing of his Haas car, which was pulled off the track by a tow truck.
There was a pit lane failure shortly thereafter when Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi exited the garage just as Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll passed. Stroll slightly cut the front wing of Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo, but there was no damage.
On Friday, Verstappen led the first practice and Bottas led the second.
There is a four-week summer break after Sunday’s race, where Hamilton will look to win in Hungary for the ninth and fourth time in a row.