Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2023

Hamilton stuns Verstappen to take first pole since 2021 by 0.003 seconds

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton took pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix by pipping Max Verstappen by just three-thousandths of a second.

Verstappen was on provisional pole position at the chequered flag before Hamilton managed to snatch it from him with his final effort to take his 104th pole position and his first since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will start on the second row, with Zhou Guanyu fifth for Alfa Romeo.


With the Alternative Tyre Allocation format in effect for this weekend, qualifying took on a different look at the Hungaroring, most strikingly in the opening phase of the session. All 20 drivers were required to run only hard compound tyres for the first segment, and many of them had not put a single lap on the white-walled tyre throughout practice.

The two Alpine drivers, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, were the first to post times in the session, but their high 1’19s were easily beaten by the Red Bull of Sergio Perez posting a 1’19.292. Valtteri Bottas put Alfa Romeo quickest of all with a 1’18.818, which even Max Verstappen was unable to match, going second quickest.

Track limits quickly became a concern for drivers, as five of them had having laps deleted for exceeding track limits in the first half of the session. Oscar Piastri, Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and the two Williams drivers, Alexander Albon each lost a lap for failing to stay within the white lines at four different points around the lap.

Verstappen improved to move to the top of the times ahead of Bottas, while his Red Bull team mate Perez pitted for a second set of hard tyres in a bid to improve.

George Russell, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
With five minutes remaining, Ferrari had reason to be concerned as Charles Leclerc was sat in the drop zone in 16th, alone with Lance Stroll, Nico Hulkenberg, Sargeant and Magnussen. Leclerc put a new set of hard tyres on to jump up to third, with Stroll also moving into the top ten. That demoted Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lewis Hamilton into danger, but the Ferrari driver went just quicker than his team mate to go safe.

Hamilton had left the puts behind team mate George Russell, but was told by race engineer Peter Bonnington they were free to “invert”, and so passed the other W14 approaching W14. He may have been glad he did so, as Hamilton went on to escape the drop zone despite encountering a traffic jam at the end of the lap.

Russell was not so fortunate, however. He was passed by several drivers as he approached the final corner before beginning his final run. His last attempt saw him eliminated in 18th, to his severe frustration.

“It’s a shitshow,” fumed Russell. “What was that? Don’t tell me we’re out.” Musconi confirmed he was. “Fucking hell!”

The cut-off line to reach Q2 was incredibly fine. Daniel Ricciardo made it in on his return by a hundredth of a second, denying Alexander Albon. Yuki Tsunoda was just two-thousandths slower than the Williams. After Russell, Magnussen and Sargeant were the final two drivers knocked out from the session.

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Q1 result

124Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’18.14310
21Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’18.3180.1759
311Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’18.3600.2178
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’18.3930.2509
516Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’18.4400.2979
681Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’18.4640.3219
744Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’18.5770.4348
814Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’18.5800.4379
927Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’18.6950.5528
104Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’18.6970.55411
1110Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’18.7430.60010
1277Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’18.7750.6328
1318Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’18.7820.63910
1431Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’18.8540.71110
153Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’18.9060.7639
1623Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’18.9170.7748
1722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’18.9190.7769
1863George RussellMercedesW141’19.0270.8849
1920Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’19.2061.0638
202Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’19.2481.1058

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For the second session of qualifying, drivers were now restricted to only the medium compound tyres. The start of Q2 was much more quiet compared to the first phase, with Perez and Stroll the only drivers to set times in the opening minutes before the rest of the field began to peel out of the pit lane.

Perez set the initial benchmark with a 1’17.675, and when that appeared to have been beaten by his team mate Verstappen, the championship leader’s first effort was deleted for running outside of the white lines on the exit of turn five.

The two McLarens jumped to the top of the times with Lando Norris setting the pace on a 1’17.328, two tenths faster than team mate Piastri. Perez was third in the Red Bull ahead of Fernando Alonso and Hamilton, as the field all returned to the pits with around six minutes remaining.

Verstappen’s deleted first lap meant he sat at the bottom of the leaderboard with only five minutes left in the session. He took advantage of an entirely clear track to set a purple first sector and post a time good enough for second, splitting the two McLaren drivers.

That left Esteban Ocon, Bottas, Ricciardo, Gasly and Stroll all in danger as they all prepared for their last efforts of Q2. Stroll failed to escape the drop zone with his final lap, and Ricciardo was unable to secure a Q3 berth on his return to F1.

Bottas jumped into the top five with his final lap, with Gasly having his final time deleted for exceeding track limits, dooming him to be out in 15th. At the chequered flag, Bottas’ improvement cost Sainz, who was eliminated in 11th place by just two thousandths of a second. Adding insult to injury, his team mate delivered the killer blow as he claimed a place in the final 10.

The top ten drivers reaching Q3 were separated by a total of just 0.373s, with both Alfa Romeo drivers progressing to Q3 for the first time this season.

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Q2 result

14Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’17.32814
244Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’17.4270.09914
31Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’17.5470.21915
477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’17.5630.23514
581Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’17.5710.24314
616Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’17.5800.25215
727Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’17.6520.32414
811Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’17.6750.34717
924Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’17.7000.37216
1014Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’17.7010.37315
1155Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’17.7030.37515
1231Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’17.8410.51316
133Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’18.0020.67415
1418Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’18.1440.81618
1510Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’18.2170.88916

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With the top 10 incredibly close together in Q2, the fight for pole position appeared to be as open as it had been all season. Now the rules required drivers to run on soft tyres in the final phase of qualifying, making little difference to a traditional qualifying session.

Perez headed Alonso in a queue of two cars at the end of the pit lane before the green light appeared at the end to begin the final 12 minute session. By the time the Red Bull driver started his push lap, all ten cars were on the circuit sporting a fresh set of soft tyres.

Perez set the initial benchmark with a 1’17.142, but that was easily beaten by Norris on his first effort, going under the 1’17 barrier for the first time. Neither Alonso nor Leclerc could match the McLaren, but Verstappen could, posting the provisional pole time of a 1’16.612 almost three tenths quicker than Norris.

Hamilton was the closest to Verstappen after the first runs, with the Mercedes just over a tenth away from the Red Bull. Zhou Guanyu had his first lap deleted for track limits at turn 12, but his first effort was the slowest of the ten remaining runners, leaving him in tenth just behind Piastri.

The track fell silent as all drivers pitted to fit a new set of soft tyres for their final run of qualifying. Hulkenberg led out the field with Perez again ahead of his team mate, but Leclerc passed Verstappen on the out lap to split the Red Bulls heading into the final flying lap.

While Perez and Verstappen did not improve on their first sectors, Leclerc did. Perez improved his time but not his position as Leclerc jumped ahead of him to fourth. Verstappen also failed to improve on his time, leaving the door open to his rivals behind.

Piastri moved to fourth on his second lap, as Norris went quickest in the middle sector. Despite his advantage, Norris could not beat Verstappen’s pole time and was just under a tenth of a second short at the chequered flag.

That left only Hamilton who could deny Verstappen a sixth consecutive pole position and, remarkably, the Mercedes driver did just that. He pipped the world champion by three-thousandths of a second to take Mercedes’ first pole of the season.

Verstappen was beaten to second on the grid, with Norris behind the two champions in third ahead of team mate Piastri. Zhou secured his best ever qualifying position in fifth, ahead of Leclerc and team mate Bottas. Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten positions.

Q3 result

144Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’16.60920
21Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’16.6120.00321
34Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’16.6940.08520
481Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’16.9050.29620
524Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’16.9710.36222
616Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’16.9920.38321
777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’17.0340.42520
814Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’17.0350.42621
911Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’17.0450.43623
1027Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’17.1860.57720

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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46 comments on “Hamilton stuns Verstappen to take first pole since 2021 by 0.003 seconds”

  1. Get in there Lewis!!!

    1. That joy in Bono’s voice when he said it. Lovely.

  2. RUS may have suffered from traffic in flying lap preparation (partly his fault for not doing anything differently), but still, a surprise Q1 elimination.
    SAI & Alpine duo were surprising Q2 eliminations.
    I didn’t expect a Mercedes pole, though, & by some three thousandths.
    VER will win under normal circumstances, probably taking P1 at the very latest DRS becomes activatable.
    Mclaren duo & ZHO also did well, while PER finally reached Q3 in a normal qualifying, although only 9th in the end.
    Finally, RIC immediately out-qualified TSU despite the latter’s considerable car familiarity advantage.

  3. You guys need a proof reader SO BAD

    1. You guys need a proof reader SO BAD

      Hmmm? Have you read the Guardian or Independent online?

      1,700 words plus three tables, up online inside 15 minutes (final times were 16:02 IIRC)

    2. Lewisham Milton
      22nd July 2023, 17:33


    3. I have an opinion
      22nd July 2023, 17:34

      so *badly*

      You could use one, also.

    4. notagrumpyfan
      22nd July 2023, 18:19

      Of course ‘proofreader’ is one word, and some punctuation would have helped as well.
      a) ‘You guys need a proof reader. SO BAD!’
      b) ‘You guys badly need a proofreader.’
      c) ‘ ‘

  4. As a Dane I am obligated to root for Magnussen, but this is getting downright embassing to watch.

    1. You’re not, I’m italian and was a schumacher fan, not ferrari’s, and I never liked giovinazzi for example.

  5. Goat behaviour! Incredible

    1. I think it might have owed a fair amount to the new updates on the Red Bull affecting the setup. A tweak or two and the RBR will be faster than anything else on the track again.

      Woeful performance by Perez, has he mentally left the team already?

      1. 9th on the grid isn’t good but at least he made Q3. The problem is that his standard 3-4 tenths off Verstappen’s pace put him behind a fiercely competitive bunch of cars and drivers. Now Verstappen has been beaten to pole finally, whatever the factors at play, the fact Pérez is adrift by 4 tenths from Max rather than, say 1 or 2 will matter a lot more to the team.

        1. Perez’ entry into Q3 wasn’t that stellar; he was only 3/100th off the drop-zone with five different teams ahead of him.
          And in Q3 there were even six different teams ahead.

  6. Got to say even if the session feels kinda dumbed down with the mandatory tyres, it was very entertaining.

    Let’s see if it works on other types of tracks and with Red Bull more on top of their game, this weekend they don’t look so hot, even if a win is still very likely for tomorrow.

    1. Yes, I quite liked the different tyres rule: you can see how each team performs on each tyre and you know who will have a hard time this or that other session, instead of always using the same tyre all sessions.

  7. Finally pole position was within reach of the Mercedes, just about, and Hamilton nailed it first go by a tiny amount. That’s multiple champion-level driving. Really did not expect that: I thought Red Bull’s upgrades would see them (well Verstappen) comfortably ahead still. Can’t see Hamilton turning this into a race win, but it’s a start for Mercedes. Like he said, it seemed like his first ever pole position all over again.

    1. The Merc is genuinely fast around here, that’s why George was so annoyed in Q1. They knew it.
      Lewis had a poor final sector and still got pole so the car has pace over a lap but overall a great performance by him.
      Really hoping the Merc and McLaren have decent race pace tomorrow.

      1. Hamilton was a hit by a cross wind in the final sector, which caused the snap.

  8. Good for Hamilton, who always does well here. Makes Russell’s performance, if that’s what you want to call it, all the worse.

    Very impressive to see McLaren also do well here.

    Ferrari outpaced by an underfunded team with their own client engine – and not even the one driven by a former race winner… Wonderful. Really seeing the magic happen there!

    1. It’s a pity the Haas seems to eat tires at an incredible rate.

    2. Wouldn’t blame russell for that, he had traffic, you see that even hamilton was out in q1 until his final lap, and that he slowed down A LOT before starting, he got like 15-20 sec gap to the car ahead to make sure to not ruin his lap due to it, it was a risky q1 strategy by merc, this is a very similar situation to brazil 2022: I know there was rain and it wasn’t the same, but 1 car goes ahead into q2 because of timing\traffic, the other car misses out, and the car that goes into q2 goes on to get pole: who’s to say schumacher back then or russell now wouldn’t also have qualified very close to pole? 1st vs 18th doesn’t tell the whole story.

  9. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    22nd July 2023, 17:24

    Will be must watch tv tomorrow morning for me. The most pumped for a Grand Prix I’ve been all year.

  10. Some outstanding performances. Curious to see what the race will bring, expecting Verstappen to dominate again but the battle behind Verstappen could be super exciting. Meanwhile Perez has his work cut out for him again..

  11. Not to take any attention away from Hamilton’s pole but…

    …McLaren appear to have a properly quick car!

    1. Yeah baby, that McLaren is finally a proper F1 car!

      1. 💪🏽

  12. Proper results. Macca looking to spoil, hope Mercedes have enough PU to keep the orange tribe behind and RBR in sight. Probably one of the few tracks that won’t punish Mercedes too hard w/ stop and go’s.

    1. Macca looking to spoil, hope Mercedes have enough PU to keep the orange tribe behind and RBR in sight.

      I believe McLaren run a different gearbox, the PU is the same

  13. Ricciardo made Q2 and beat Tsunoda in his first attempt and Perez looked weak again.

    I will be sedating myself before watching another Hamilton Verstappen front row start tomorrow. The memories of 2021 are making my heart pound already.

  14. I’m thinking:

    HAM and VER take each other out and/or get penalties. NOR to win.

    Sorry, I dared to dream for a moment!

    1. Sorry but this is just wrong and an all too common attitude from F1 fans. I am sure you do not deep down mean it but it would have been better to say ” I hope Max and Lewis are too busy squabbling and Llando drives around them at the start to lead and hopefuly go on to win”. To wish your opponent crashes so your favourite drivers wins is just plain wrong.

      1. I’m not wishing my opponent crashes. I’m humorously predicting the outcome, based on previous experiences of Max and Lewis battles, and applying exaggeration.

        Maybe your sense of humour will fall out when Max opens his DRS flap (although I sincerely doubt it!)

        1. I’m not wishing it either, but I agree that there’s a good chance that Lewis and Max will tangle. Both of them seem to lose all caution and sense around each other. Max had nothing to lose, and Hamilton could well lose sight of the bigger picture.

          While I don’t want it to happen, it would at least give us our first competitive fight for the top step of the podium this year. If they get away cleanly, I still wouldn’t bet against Max being in front by lap 5 and building a 10s+ margin. The RBR hasn’t had a massive qualifying advantage this year, their advantage has morality been in race pace and I don’t see that changing significantly.

    2. HAM and VER take each other out and/or get penalties

      If Max starts the same as Silverstone, he’ll be more likely to tangle with Zhou or Leclerc

  15. Robert Henning
    22nd July 2023, 18:15

    None of the top 3 did a good clean lap in the end but it was good to have a non RB pole with Hamilton.

    Very surprised by Ricciardo, and the Alfa Romeos.

    Piastri is definitely a star, and if everything goes well, I hope McLaren let them race tomorrow.

    1. Piastri is definitely a star,

      Piastri: Rossi got that contract process so wrong, I’m amazed it took so many months for Renault to ‘relocate’ him.

      1. Robert Henning
        22nd July 2023, 19:01

        Now Rossi has also been relocated haha.

  16. Job will done from Hamilton, i hope he will stay there tomorrow for more that 2-3 laps.

  17. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    22nd July 2023, 19:27

    For once this season, it looks like RB may not dominate the race. Maybe wishful thinking on my part, but a guy can dream, right?
    I hope MERC and MCL have the pace to at least keep VER honest.
    The quali izself was interesting, we’ll see how much because the new format, and how much because of the combination of the format and a green track.
    It looked like at least NOR could have a chance to challenge VER on mediums.
    We’ll see tomorrow, for once this season I can’t say VER has it wrapped up already.

  18. Everyone forgot about Aston Martin already. Gosh, how can a team drop to a lucky eighth place (which should be ninth) after fighting for top spot just five races before? And again, they brought nothing special to improve the car. So they had like what, one big update? In a half of a season? During testing Alonso was bragging that 70% of the car will be changed from the start of the season. Either they will bring the real updates after the summer break, or they are so bad at developing the car that they’re going to lose not only fourth but fifth in the WCC.

    This is typical Ferrari-like performance: start good, then drop further back during the season because of the inability to develop the car.

    PS: I think I am sure they are going to lose to Ferrari and McLaren in the WCC by the end of the season. So frustrated.

    1. Aston is aiming for championship wins, so are likely doing more development on next years car as they cant win the championship this year. teams often do.

  19. Cracking qualy! So good to see Lewis back at the pointy end. So Danny Ric has jumped into an unfamiliar car which is regarded as consistently the 9th or 10th fastest on the grid, has outqualified his teammate and put the car only 4 positions behind the second Red Bull. Early days of course, but dare I say Sergio will be out before the end of the season…?

  20. Norris could win his first f1 race. i always thought he was a better young talent than Verstappen, but right car, right place always wins. Hungary is where Norris did his f1 test if i remember correctly, and he was fastest in the test at 16 years old or so. Thankfully for Norris he wasnt part of the Red Bull team, alpha/redbull, or he would have maybe been out of f1 now, the way they treat so many of their young drivers.

  21. Good job by hamilton on getting pole position, it was so damn close and that is already an achievement, considering verstappen has been unbeatable even in quali in recent times, even when drivers like norris or alonso had a chance on specific tracks.

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