Russell storms to first career F1 pole at Hungarian GP


 George Russell scored the first pole position of his career by charging to the top spot in the final seconds of qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix, after points leader Max Verstappen was forced to withdraw from Q3 with engine problems.

Mercedes had looked out of sorts all weekend, with poor balance on Friday and chronic tire temperature issue during wet Saturday practice, but the W13 switched it on in time for dry qualifying.

Russell wielded the machine to perfection. His first lap split the fancied Ferrari drivers for a provisional front row, but a sublime second lap shaved 0.6s off his personal best to pip Carlos Sainz to top spot by 0.044s, all without having set a single purple sector.

“I’m over the moon,” he said. “Absolutely buzzing.

“Yesterday was probably the worst Friday of the season. We need to look into it and understand where that came from today.”

Despite being unclear about why his car was suddenly so quick, Russell said he expected to contend for victory on Sunday.

“At the end of the day there’s no points for qualifying,” he said. “We’re going to be absolutely going for it.”

“I think we have the pace,” he said. “The start and the tire management will play a key role, like always.

“The Mercedes pace is a bit of an unknown. We’ll have to see how the race plays out tomorrow.”

Leclerc, 0.190s off the pace, said his priority was to discover why his car suddenly lacked one-lap performance.

“We’ll look into it,” he said. “We just need to understand what went on with the tires today, and I’m pretty sure we can come back tomorrow.”

Lando Norris qualified an excellent fourth at 0.392s adrift, beating both Alpine drivers, with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso running around 0.3s further back.

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