Lewis Hamilton was shocked by Mercedes' superiority in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix as he continued to apply pressure to world championship leader Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

Hamilton closed the gap in the standings to eight points after his controversial win at Silverstone last time out, where a collision between the seven-time world champion and Verstappen on the opening lap led to the latter retiring.

The fallout from that flashpoint has dominated the build-up to this race and Hamilton was booed by spectators after securing pole position for Sunday's race at the Hungaroring.

Valtteri Bottas closed out a Mercedes front row, with that dominance surprising Hamilton given his team have spent much of the season to date grappling with the problem of Red Bull's superior speed.

"Definitely, definitely not," Hamilton said when asked whether he had expected to be faster than Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who qualified fourth.

"This is a track that they’ve been very strong at for a long time. And given the improvements they made earlier on this year, we thought that we obviously closed the gap a little bit in the last race but we thought they would still have a little bit of an edge.

"We saw today that they changed from their big wing to their smaller wing today. Whether or not that’s hampered them, I don’t know but yeah, it was definitely a real surprise to see us have that sort of pace on them. Of course we’re happy with that."

Mercedes are just four points shy of Red Bull in the constructors' standings and Hamilton is glad to have Bottas for company on the front row as he plots the path to what would be the 100th victory of his F1 career.

"Valtteri did an astonishing job, really boosting the team into the front row, which is honestly… I don’t remember the last time we had a front row together," he added.

"So super positive and it's all down to the amazing work back at the factory and the men and women here are doing a phenomenal job and with everything going on around us, in the outside world and everything.

"People are just staying focused and staying centred and I’m really proud of everyone."

Max Verstappen has angrily hit out at the continued questioning he and Lewis Hamilton are receiving after their Silverstone clash.

Hamilton, who is on pole for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, received a controversial 10-second time penalty having collided with title rival Verstappen on the opening lap at the British Grand Prix last time out.

But while Verstappen was forced to retire from the race and sent to hospital for checks, Hamilton recovered from his punishment and went on to record a famous win that reignited his labouring championship bid.
 
A fierce war of words followed as Red Bull criticised Hamilton and race stewards for what had transpired.

But two weeks on in Hungary, Verstappen has been unimpressed at repeated questions on the matter.

He then hit out when he was asked after qualifying how he and Hamilton would approach the start of this race if they end up wheel-to-wheel once more.

Standings leader Verstappen, who starts third behind Valtteri Bottas and ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, cut off the question at a news conference for the top three drivers.

"Can we just already stop about this because we've had so many f*****g questions about this," he said

"It's just ridiculous, honestly. The whole Thursday we've been answering this stupid s**t all the time. 

"So can we just stop about it please? We are racers. We will race. And, of course, we are going to race hard but fair. We'll just be pushing each other."

As the fallout from the British GP incident continues, Hamilton was booed by the Hungary crowd during qualifying and after recording the fastest time on Saturday.

The Mercedes driver told fans at the circuit they had "fuelled" his success as he seeks a 100th career Formula One win.

Asked about the booing, Verstappen said: "What do you want me to say? It is not correct, of course, but at the end of the day I think we are drivers. 

"We shouldn't get disturbed by these kind of things. You should anyway just focus on what you have to do and that's deliver in the car. 

"Luckily we wear helmets actually when driving. When it matters you don't hear anything. That's maybe a bit different to other sports, probably we are quite lucky with that.

"Of course, it's not nice but it shouldn't influence any of us. I think we are all very professional."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was in a jovial mood after his team's qualifying success and he was shown Verstappen's comments as part of an interview with Sky Sports.

Asked what he thought would happen at the first corner, he joked fifth-placed Pierre Gasly could be primed to benefit from another Mercedes-Red Bull clash.

"Let’s see what happens, I think it's going to be an exciting start," Wolff said.

"Maybe Gasly leads after turn one and all four cars are out! 

"I'm just joking, I hope not. But it will be an exciting turn one and for sure from the strategy, we will see some interesting manoeuvres.

"But if I start teaching my drivers about how to approach turn one, it has actually completely gone off the rails.

"It [the rivalry] is exciting. You guys and everybody needs headlines and that keeps the sport interesting. It keeps stitching us up! But none of them has lost respect for each other, so let's see what happens."

Verstappen's lead in the standings has been cut to eight points, while Red Bull are just four clear in the constructors' championship.

Lewis Hamilton told an angry Hungarian Grand Prix crowd their jeers "fuelled" him as he took pole position at the start of a potentially historic weekend.

The Mercedes superstar was at the centre of controversy two weeks earlier at Silverstone as his crash saw Max Verstappen ruled out on the first lap.

Hamilton recovered from a 10-second penalty to win the race and close the gap significantly in the title race.

That was the defending champion's 99th Formula One victory and he now has a clear sight of the century, albeit only after another Red Bull flashpoint.

Having already secured provisional pole with a time of one minute and 15.419 seconds, which would ultimately prove enough, Hamilton crept in front of the chequered flag to make a second run, delaying Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez, who was unable to get through in time.

It left Hamilton fighting only against Verstappen, who lacked the pace of previous races and has work to do from third on Sunday.

Hamilton's first win as a Mercedes driver came in Hungary and he could be the first driver to win the same event nine times this week, but he was not popular among the locals as he took the microphone.

Greeted with loud boos, the Briton said: "I appreciate the great support I have here.

"Honestly, I've never felt so great with the booing. If anything, it just fuels me. I don't really mind it. It's alright."

Mercedes had gone six grands prix without pole position, their second-longest barren run in the hybrid era.

But Valtteri Bottas followed Hamilton in second place for the Silver Arrows' 80th qualifying one-two, a joint-record alongside Ferrari.

"It was an amazing qualifying lap," Hamilton said having claimed his 101st pole. "I think it's been amazing teamwork from everyone this weekend, Valtteri included.

"Trying to push the car forwards, developing constantly, the guys back at the factory have not left a stone unturned. It's been amazing to see everyone coming together, rallying and pushing forwards."

Verstappen, using the same Honda power unit from his Silverstone crash, was given a far warmer greeting by the Hungarian fans after coming in 0.421 seconds behind Hamilton.

"It's difficult to say the gap, but clearly the whole weekend so far we've been a bit behind," the Red Bull star said. "It showed again in qualifying.

"Of course it's not what we want, but we're still there in P3 and we'll see what we can do. So far, it's not what I want."

Verstappen will start on soft tyres having switched in Q2 to be sure of his place in the final session, one place ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez.

Q2 had briefly been halted due to a crash for Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, with Mick Schumacher also earlier hitting the barriers in FP3 and unable to enter qualifying.
 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:15.419
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.315secs
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.421s
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +1.002s
5. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1.064s
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.070s
7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1.077s
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +1.234s
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.296s
10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.331s

Valtteri Bottas recorded the fastest time of second practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix, 0.027s ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas' fastest lap of 1:17.012 helped Mercedes lead the way on their soft-tyre simulations, while championship leader Max Verstappen had to settle for third after his car struggled in the hot temperatures.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez came in fifth, while the Alpine duo of Esteban Ocan and Fernando Alonso finished fourth and seventh respectively.

Three-time World champion Sebastian Vettel finished eighth, with team-mate Lance Stroll completing the top 10 behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Max Verstappen is keen to ensure his focus does not drift from the task at hand as the events of the British Grand Prix continue to hang over the Formula One title race.

Verstappen still leads the way in 2021 but saw his advantage cut to eight points at Silverstone after a first-lap crash.

The Red Bull superstar was involved in an incident with rival Lewis Hamilton, who remained on the track, served a 10-second penalty and won the race.

Verstappen fumed at a perceived lenient punishment at the time and Red Bull have since pursued a review.

The driver is happy to now leave that up to his team, though, as attention turns to Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

"I don't have much to say on all the media hype [around the crash] and, to be honest, I am not interested in getting involved in any of that," Verstappen said this week.

"I know what happened at Silverstone as I was in the car and obviously I feel a certain way about how my race ended, but now I'm just focusing on making sure we are the best we can be on track so we can stay ahead in the championship.

"The team can take care of the official side of things and anything that needs looking into after the crash, but my job is the same as always – to be the best I can and try to win on Sunday."

Verstappen described himself as "a little bruised" but "feeling good" heading to Hungary.

The Dutchman added he "enjoys Hungary as a track", yet this is an event Hamilton has dominated, having won six of the past nine races in Hungary, including the most recent three in a row.

Indeed, as Verstappen waits on his first victory at the Hungarian GP, a ninth for Hamilton would take him past Michael Schumacher for the outright most ever at a single circuit.

LAST TIME OUT

The 2021 British Grand Prix will not be forgotten about in a hurry.

Verstappen won the inaugural sprint race in qualifying and then, very briefly, looked on course to do the same on the Sunday.

He protected his advantage from pole only as far as Copse Corner on the first lap before a clip from Hamilton took out the Red Bull's tyre.

A 40-minute red flag stoppage followed as the two teams offered contrasting views on the incident, described by Christian Horner as "dirty driving".

Hamilton was able to resume with only the 10-second penalty and was still in contention in fourth after serving his punishment.

The defending champion reeled in Lando Norris, benefited from a switch with team-mate Valtteri Bottas and then finally caught Charles Leclerc.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN HUNGARY

A response, of course! As he has made clear, Verstappen was not enamoured by events last time out and will be determined to hit back.

The opportunity to show off his Red Bull's pace is likely to appeal far more than another dogfight, though. Silverstone offered evidence of how that can go wrong for Verstappen.

Until heading to the United Kingdom, he had been in scintillating form, blowing Mercedes away with three wins on the bounce.

There is intrigue behind the two leading men, too, with Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr finally starting to show again they are capable of mixing it with Norris, Bottas and Sergio Perez.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Closing in – After five races without a win, Hamilton's victory last time out was his 99th in F1. Just as he was the first to a century of pole positions, 100 wins would break new ground.

Briton's breakthrough – It would be fitting if Hamilton did reach that milestone in Hungary, where he claimed his first Mercedes triumph back in 2013. That was his only Silver Arrows success prior to the hybrid era.

Pole pursuit – Hamilton will hope for a better Saturday to improve his chances of victory. Mercedes have not claimed pole in their past six races, their second-worst such stretch of the hybrid era.

Ferrari frustration – Mercedes' issues pale in comparison to Ferrari's. Leclerc was denied by Hamilton's fightback at Silverstone and the Scuderia will be 34 without a win if they fail again this weekend. That would tie their second-worst streak ever.

Streaky McLarens – Norris' run of earning points in 15 successive grands prix is the best run in McLaren's history. Meanwhile, team-mate Ricciardo has finished 26 straight races, the eighth-longest sequence ever in F1.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 

Drivers 

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 185
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 177
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 113
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 108
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104

Constructors 

1. Red Bull – 289
2. Mercedes – 285
3. McLaren – 163
4. Ferrari – 148
5. AlphaTauri – 49

Page 2 of 2
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.