Qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix proved to be something of a washout for Max and Daniel as rain and unpredictable conditions turned what promised to be a strong session for the Bulls into a damp squib.
Quick in the dry throughout practice, with Daniel fastest in FP1 and Max second quickest in FP2 yesterday, the Bulls might have had one eye on the battle for pole position on the tight and twisting Hungaroring, but when rain began to fall ahead of Q1, the form guide was largely rendered irrelevant.
Starting in wet conditions the boys were quickly into the groove on inters with Daniel slotting into P3 and Max taking P4. However, as conditions improved and the field began to move to slick tyres the picture changed – at least for Daniel.
Carlos Sainz sparked the switch, taking on ultrasofts and lapping over two seconds quicker than the top time on inters and the major players soon moved to the purple-banded tyre as the session reached its midpoint.
Max again rapidly moved toward the top of the order and the Dutchman ended the session in second place, behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, third ahead of Hamilton and Räikkönen.
Daniel, though, opted to run on softs and he struggled to find lap time on the compound. As the time ticked away, Daniel rose and fell down the order and in the final minutes found himself in the drop zone, in 16th place. He eventually put in an excellent final lap to rise to 12th place and thus to a Q2 berth.
There was no such luck for McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, however. Unable to eke out the necessary improvement, the Belgian was eliminated in 16th position ahead of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez and Williams’ Sergey Sirtokin.
The luck Daniel had ridden in Q1 ran out in Q2. In steadily worsening conditions he went out on intermediates but on his push lap Williams’ Lance Stroll spun in front of him and he was forced to abort.
And then, by the time he had made his way around for another attempt, the rain had intensified to such a degree that the inters were no longer working and extreme wets would be required.
In tough conditions Daniel made two attempts to improve but it proved impossible and he was eliminated in P12 behind McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Stroll.
Extreme wets were again required for Q3 but this time the rain slackened and the track steadily improved. Max opened with a best first-run time of 1:38.032 and then pitted to plot a final run on the improving surface. His timing was good and he looked to be on track at the right moment, but as those around him found more time, Max could not and he slid back to P7 as the session came to an end.
Ahead, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took pole, with team-mate Bottas second ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Carlos Sainz was fifth for Renault, with Pierre Gasly an excellent sixth for Toro Rosso. Behind Max, Brendon Hartley qualified eighth in the second Toro Rosso, and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were ninth and 10th respectively.
This is Max’s lowest starting position since Monaco, where he started last.
Daniel is starting five places higher than last weekend, when he started 19th.
This is the fourth time Daniel has started P12 – though his first for the Team. Last time was 2013 at the Korean Grand Prix for Toro Rosso.
Max has started from P7 once every season in his F1 career. Austria 2015, Italy 2016, Russia 2017, Hungary 2018…
Hungarian Grand Prix - Qualifying Top 10:
- Lewis Hamilton
- Valtteri Bottas
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Sebastian Vettel
- Carlos Sainz
- Pierre Gasly
- MAX VERSTAPPEN
- Brendon Hartley
- Kevin Magnussen
- Romain Grosjean