Lewis Hamilton clips Max Verstappen for Hungarian Grand Prix pole

BUDAPEST - Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) after qualifying at the Hungaroring circuit ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.  ANP REMKO DE WAAL (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton qualified ahead of Max Verstappen for the Hungarian Grand Prix. (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

Is Sunday the day Red Bull’s dominance of the 2023 Formula 1 season comes to an end?

Lewis Hamilton beat Max Verstappen for pole in Saturday’s qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton’s lap was 0.003 seconds quicker than Verstappen’s as he claimed the ninth pole of his career at the Hungaroring.

Hamilton has won eight times in Hungary and five of those wins have come from first place. He last won in Hungary in 2020 when he started and finished first and led all but one lap. He started first in 2021 and finished second behind Esteban Ocon after a big crash on the first lap.

Sunday’s race marks the first time a Red Bull driver has not started in the first 11 races of the season. Verstappen won eight of the opening 10 races while teammate Sergio Perez took the other two victories.

Practice and qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix was different from normal thanks to F1’s experimental tire limits. The race weekend is the first of two this season which saw teams get fewer tires for the race weekend and required all teams to use hard compound tires in the first qualifying session, medium tires in the second session and soft tires in the third session.

Hamilton’s pace doesn’t seem like a fluke, though. While Mercedes team-mate George Russell qualified 18th due to traffic in the first session, Hamilton set the fastest lap in the final practice session on Saturday.

If Hamilton can win from pole on Sunday, it will be his 104th Formula 1 victory and his first win since winning the penultimate race of the 2021 season. He was on course to win the final race of 2021 and secure a record 8th F1 title before a warning for Nicholas Latifi’s crash led F1 officials to restart the race with one lap to go and Verstappen passed Hamilton for the win and the championship on new tyres.

Verstappen has been the dominant driver since that maiden title as he sailed towards the 2022 title and is on course for his third championship in 2023. He enters the Hungarian Grand Prix with a 99-point lead over Perez while Hamilton is 134 points behind in fourth.

The starting line-up for the Hungarian Grand Prix

1. Lewis Hamilton

2. Max Verstappen

3. Lando Norris

4.Oscar Piatri

5. Zhou Guanyu

6. Charles Leclerc

7. Valtteri Bottas

8. Fernando Alonso

9. Sergio Perez

10. Nico Hulkenberg

11. Carlos Sainz

12. Esteban Ocon

13. Daniel Ricardo

14. Start the walk

15. Pierre Gasly

16. Alexander Albon

17. Yuki Tsunoda

18. George Russell

19. Kevin Magnussen

20. Sergeant Logan

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