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Max Verstappen qualifies in P2 in Hungary: 'Not exactly where we wanted to be'

Published on 22 July 2023 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen qualified second for the Hungarian Grand Prix. In an exciting qualifying Max seemed on the way to pole, but Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in the final phase of qualifying. Only three thousandths of a second faster than Max. The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver had to settle for second position and Hamilton took his first pole since 2021. Lando Norris finished in his McLaren in P3.

After qualifying Max says: “Our qualifying was generally not good. I have been struggling to find the right balance the whole weekend. Every session it has been up and down. Today in qualifying it was really difficult in Q1 and Q2 to have confidence to attack corners. We made some adjustments and the first run in Q3 was quite good, but then the second run again no feeling. I tried to push a little bit more, but then you lose the rear and the front. We are still second, but we should be ahead with the car we have normally. So far this weekend we have not been on it.”

That the balance was not good is not caused by the new upgrades Red Bull introduced this weekend, according to Max: “I think the update works, but I think we did not put everything together setup wise. Today was all over the place, and not exactly where we wanted to be. You cannot be perfect all the time, but we want to be as close to perfection as possible, so far this weekend we have not been on it. But that is over one lap, so nothing is lost yet.”

According to Verstappen tomorrow will be a big challenge: “I do not expect an easy race. I think we will be quick, but it is hard to overtake, especially when quite closely matched in pace. It will be quite hot, so the rear tyres will always be quite difficult. But with the balance I had today, that will not be so bad.”

Despite the disappointment, Max sees some small differences in qualifying which are good for the sport: “I am not happy with qualifying because of the balance, but that does not explain the gap to the other teams. Qualifying was exciting and that is nice. You could not tell at the beginning of each session who was going to be up front, so that is good for the sport.”

It is dry and sunny with an outside temperature of 26 degrees and a track temperature of 45 degrees. For qualifying at the 4.381-kilometre long Hungaroring some new regulations are introduced. In Q1 all drivers must be on the hard compound tyres, in Q2 medium compound tyres must be used and then in Q3 the soft tyres will be used. In his first flying lap in Q1, Verstappen set a 1:18.892, putting him in P2, behind Valtteri Bottas. Max stays out on track and improves his time to a 1:18.658, which brings him into first position. After a stint of six laps Verstappen returns to the pits.

The track is evolving, and while Max is in the pits a couple of other drivers go quicker. In the final minutes of Q1 all drivers come out again and Max improves his time (1:18.318), finishing in P2, unexpectantly behind Zhou Guanyu in the Alfa Romeo. Dropping out of Q1 are Alexander Albon (P16), Yuki Tsunoda (P17), George Russell (P18), Kevin Magnussen (P19) and Logan Sargeant (P20).

Max immediately sets the fastest in time in Q2 on medium compound tyres, but his lap time is deleted because of track limits. Max comes out a second time and sets the third fastest time (1:17.547), behind Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, getting him safely through to Q3. Dropping out of the second part of qualifying are Carlos Sainz (P11), Esteban Ocon (P12), Daniel Ricciardo, who immediately at his comeback outqualifies his teammate Tsunoda, in P13, Lance Stroll (P14) and Pierre Gasly (P15).

In Q3 all drivers come out on soft tyres. Max sets a 1:16.612 in his first quick lap and takes provisional pole. Hamilton is more than a tenth of a second slower than Verstappen. Max does not improve his time in his second run, while Hamilton goes three thousandths of a second faster than Max and takes his first pole since Saudi-Arabia 2021. Behind Verstappen are the McLaren’s of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri in P3 and P4. Zhou Guanyu gets his best qualifying of his Formula 1 career by finishing fifth, with behind him Charles Leclerc in P6. Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg complete the top ten.

Sunday at 3pm Dutch time, the Hungarian Grand Prix will start.

Contest Hungarian GP: win a by Max Verstappen signed Racing cap!

Results qualifying Hungary:

1Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:18.5771:17.4271:16.609
2Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:18.3181:17.5471:16.612
3Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:18.6971:17.3281:16.694
4Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:18.4641:17.5711:16.905
5Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:18.1431:17.7001:16.971
6Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:18.4401:17.5801:16.992
7Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:18.7751:17.5631:17.034
8Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:18.5801:17.7011:17.035
9Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:18.3601:17.6751:17.045
10Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:18.6951:17.6521:17.186
11Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:18.3931:17.703
12Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:18.8541:17.841
13Daniel RicciardoRICAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:18.9061:18.002
14Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:18.7821:18.144
15Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:18.7431:18.217
16Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:18.917
17Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:18.919
18George RussellRUSMercedes1:19.027
19Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:19.206
20Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:19.248