It was business as usual for Mercedes in the Hungarian capital of Budapest as defending drivers’ champion Lewis Hamilton outclassed Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas on Saturday to take pole position for the seventh time at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
It was Hamilton’s second straight pole this season and record-extending 90th of his Formula One career — 22 more than next-best Michael Schumacher.
“I just have to pinch myself, it doesn’t register,” Hamilton said after smashing the track record at the Hungaroring. “It does not seem real.”
Hamilton has won seven times at Hungary and the British driver needs one more to equal F1 great Schumacher’s single-track record of eight wins, when the French GP was held at Magny-Cours.
Hamilton was 0.107 seconds quicker than Bottas and 0.93s faster than Racing Point driver Lance Stroll.
“The car was on fire today ... I’m going to try and get some big points tomorrow,” said an exuberant Stroll, whose teammate Sergio Perez was fourth.
Racing Point uses Mercedes engines and is looking quicker than Ferrari, which is falling behind. Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel and teammate Charles Leclerc were fifth and sixth — both around 1.3 slower than Hamilton — who was beaten 7-5 for poles by Leclerc last year.
Max Verstappen starts seventh on Sunday for Red Bull ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.
In the first part of qualifying, Perez led Stroll with Hamilton third and Verstappen unhappy in eighth.
“We have to check my engine, it’s all over the place,” the Dutch driver said.
Hamilton headed Q2 from Bottas while Alexander Albon was among the five eliminated in a blow for Red Bull, along with the Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon.
Earlier, Bottas led Hamilton by .042 seconds in overcast conditions for the third and final practice.
Bottas won the season-opening Austrian GP and six-time F1 champion Hamilton clinched the Styrian GP the following week in Austria after a brilliant pole position in teeming rain.
Hungarian Grand Prix starting grid
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
2. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes)
3. Lance Stroll (CAN/Racing Point)
4. Sergio Perez (MEX/Racing Point)
5. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari)
6. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari)
7. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull)
8. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren)
9. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/McLaren)
10. Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri)
11. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Renault)
12. George Russell (GBR/Williams)
13. Alexander Albon (THA/Red Bull)
14. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Renault)
15. Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams)
16. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas)
17. Daniil Kvyat (RUS/AlphaTauri)
18. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas)
19. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Alfa Romeo)
20. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Alfa Romeo)