The Saturday in F1 Hungarian GP continued the dramas between Mercedes and Red Bull, while crashes derail some of the mid and back runners.

Mercedes kept their pace on Saturday of F1 Hungarian GP in a 1-2 finish, with Lewis Hamilton taking pole from Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third and Sergio Perez fourth. But the key difference was the tyres for the grand prix.

While Mercedes opted for medium, Red Bull switched to soft after initially setting their lap on the yellow-walled tyres. This will give the latter a chance to overtake the former at the start of the F1 race, where track position will matter on a circuit like Hungaroring.

But it has to be seen how Red Bull will manage the F1 race in the first stint. Crucially, there were no dramas on Perez’s side, despite him not getting to even start his final lap. There was lots of talk of Hamilton slowing the pack, which eventually hampered the Mexican.

While Red Bull were fine with it, but Christian Horner felt Hamilton was more focused on their F1 team than his own qualifying lap. The Brit, though, reckoned he didn’t need any tactics as been said by various fans and watchers around.

The confusion of slow outlap arose due to the delta time of 1m31s between the two safety car lines, which is not the full lap time. Seemingly all drivers respected that delta time, but expanded their lap time around it, which is why it went beyond the 2m mark.

It was a same with Hamilton, which is why Red Bull were not against the idea. The F1 team and Verstappen, anyhow, agreed that they were anyhow down on pace when compared to Mercedes, which is why they also had to rely on the soft tyres.

Hamilton: “The lap really felt beautiful. It was a real build up. A lot of qualifying sessions you sometimes get your best lap in Q1 or Q2 or something like that. It never goes always to plan whereas today I got the best lap Q3, run one. So I was really, really happy with it. I had the song YMCA just on my mind the whole session. I’m not really sure why, I haven’t really been listening to it but that was what was the motivator today so I guess it bodes well for the weekend.

“For prep laps, I think we were the last three or four cars and it definitely wasn’t perfect and I’d say right towards the end probably lost too much temperature on the tyres in the front, so the start of the lap wasn’t great and it didn’t really seem to get better later on through the lap. I know that ahead of those guys, ahead of Valtteri and whoever was ahead of him, would all bunch up towards the end of the lap so I tried to make as big a gap as possible and then even still with that.

“At the end of the lap we still had to all back off and wait for everyone to get going, so just trying to make sure that I had the best gap ahead of me but ultimately I think none of us probably had the best tyre prep for that lap because everyone was going slow. I mean it’s so silly, man. I mean everyone was going slow. Did you not watch everybody else? I don’t understand. Do you think I could have gone quicker and then been just close to Valtteri? Everyone was doing a slow out lap so it was no different to any other lap.

“Of course each time we’re going out we’re trying to prepare the tyres and keep them cooler because they get so hot throughout the lap so I’m not playing any tactics, I don’t need to play any tactics man. I know what I’m doing in the car and I’m fast enough, I don’t need to add tactics so… Those that are making the comments clearly don’t know anything about the job that we’re doing here, which is probably why they’re not driving here.”

Verstappen: “I went a bit backwards compared to my Q2 lap of course. Just didn’t have the same grip over the lap. I don’t know if it was track related or tyre related but yeah, just didn’t have the same balance in the car to push so then yeah, naturally around here the corners follow up really quickly, so if you don’t feel good in one corner, the next won’t be great. Just lost a bit of lap time.

“But nevertheless, I don’t think even with that we could have had pole. Not the greatest weekend so far. I think in general just always been a bit behind and yeah, we just need to analyse why that is. I think Silverstone was quite strong. Of course I know they brought new bits again to the car so yeah, we just need to of course work on ourselves and then try to improve the situation because of course we cannot be happy with this.

“As for the strategy, we talked about it and they told me that they wanted to go on the soft instead and then keep the medium new so we ran that and then yeah, quite a lot of people actually improved their lap time. At the end of the day it would have been safe to go through but only with two or three hundredths I don’t think you want to risk it that much so that’s why they told me to finish the lap.”

Perez: “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and that meant that I basically lost my final attempt. I think I had a good amount of time left in the car. We did some adjustments, and here is a place where if you get one corner right, there’s just plenty of lap time in it, because there’s so many corners. I haven’t looked in detail, but to be honest, I think Lewis had a sensible gap to Bottas, who was ahead of him. Something must have happened, someone had dropped back massively from Gasly I think and I don’t think it was towards the end. Hamilton had a normal gap, I just paid the price by being the the last car of the train.”

Behind the four cars, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly led the charge in fifth after he managed to beat McLaren’s Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to it. The other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz ended in the barriers, which helped Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel to be in Q3.

His F1 teammate Lance Stroll ended up outside of Q3 along with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, while Alpine extended their pace run with both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon in the Top 10. Pace wise, the F1 grand prix will be one to watch out for all the drivers.

They are very closely matched where the race starts and strategy will be key. For Gasly, it was a big win to be ahead of all and one which also won him a bet against Franz Tost. At Ferrari, it was some joy and despair, where Sainz felt sorry after gust of wind.

For Norris, it was a better run after F1 practice to be in the Top 6, whereas teammate Ricciardo was a bit down after getting knocked out in Q2, but felt that was all he could do. On Alpine side, both the drivers were pleased to make it into Q3.

Gasly: “I must say I’m pretty pleased with that lap. I knew when I closed the lap, going over the line, okay, that’s going to put us in a good position, but still, I didn’t expect to be in front of Lando and Charles, so I’m really pleased. That’s the best position we could hope for the race, right behind the two top teams, so really pleased with that.

“Objectively, we know that Ferrari and McLaren are faster than us in long runs, so we’ll have to put our elbows out. We know it’s difficult to pass, so we’ll try and play our cards as good as we can, have a good start and then try and use the free air we have, because we expect the two top teams to pull away. As for the bet, basically before the quali, we had a small prediction game with the team.

“I thought we would qualify eighth, Franz said seventh and if I would qualify eighth, I’d need to go back to the hotel walking, he said – I wouldn’t be allowed to take our Honda car. And I said, okay, so if I do sixth, I get a Ferrari – you find a Ferrari for me to drive back to the hotel, and he said okay. But now I’m fifth, so maybe I get two Ferraris…”

Sainz: “Q1 I was so strong and I was feeling good with the car, so to have this kind of issue in Q2 in the first run, with the quali still to play for, hurts. I was very puzzled because I really didn’t understand what happened. I went to see my engineers to try to see what I could have done differently. We see I entered the corner slower than in Q1, and even like that with 35km/h gust of tail wind I just lose the F1 car.

“It got gustier, it got windier, so I’m not going to use it as an excuse, I should have maybe adapted a bit myself. But when you go into a corner slower than the previous one and you still lose the rear, it’s unfortunate. It hurts because I’m not used to doing this kind of mistake – but I have to take it on the chin, apologise to the team and go again.”

Ricciardo: “It was close to get into Q3 but what’s frustrating was probably more that the lap felt alright. At least with what I could feel, it felt like pretty much all I could do. A couple of bits here and there, but I felt like the lap was decent, and when it feels alright and you still don’t get into Q3, that’s what’s obviously a bit painful.”

Behind them, Alfa Romeo managed to get both cars in Q2 with Kimi Raikkonen managing to edge out Antonio Giovinazzi. Both drivers felt better after practice and were happy to make it into the second leg, while beating both the Williams F1 cars.

It was not so easy for George Russell, who for the first time did not made it out of Q1 in 2021. He noted the lack of confidence to push, while teammate Nicholas Latifi mentioned about engine cuts on both his lap, but reckoned it was not enough for the second leg.

For Haas, despite the big efforts from the mechanics, they couldn’t get Mick Schumacher going, who noted wind and overheating tarmac for the reason for his incident. The German also noted that the wind also affects their car, much like how it does for Williams.

Russell: “Obviously I’m not that happy because it’s the first time we have not progressed into Q2 all season, at a circuit where I thought would be our best shot for points. Ahead of the weekend I thought Q2 would be a breeze. And then for whatever reason I haven’t had the rhythm I’ve had at other circuits. It’s the first time we’ve not made it through to Q2, so we can’t get it right every time.

“It’s fine margins. Usually I go into qualifying and I’m in a groove and I can just pull the lap out and today I knew when I crossed the line, it just didn’t come together for me. I didn’t have that good feel, that right rhythm with the car, with the tyres, and I knew it wasn’t good enough, and usually it just sort of comes to me much easier. And then when I go into Q2 I can make another step up from there.”

Schumacher: “The whole situation started in Turn 7, where the exit was already quite on the limit with wind speed which in my case does overheat the surface, which as a result had Turn 9 in a difficult place already with the rear being partly on the limit. But again, I kind of understood because it was a place where I have usually had snaps already all weekend long, but again coming into Turn 11 nearly flat and at that time with the rear wind, I was kind of a passenger and unfortunately the way I hit the wall made things complicated for us to repair afterwards.

“It’s a very unfortunate moment because we missed out Qualifying again and I am very proud of how the team managed to get so close I think we were 5 to 10 minutes off getting the car out. It would have been enough to have a red flag that we would have been able to do a lap at least. My approach doesn’t really change that much. Obviously you want to be reaching the limit as soon as possible.

“What’s difficult this year is that our car seems to be quite affected by windy conditions and also by surface overheating which counts on what happened in FP3. For example, Turn 11 was never an issue over the course of the weekend and it caught me off guard that I lost the rear end in that corner but looking at it at the data and everything it just seems the windy conditions and overheating increased a little bit more before also because of the track temperature being so high.”

Here’s how F1 Hungarian GP qualifying panned out