BUDAPEST • Defending Formula One champion and series leader Lewis Hamilton is in prime position to record a fifth Hungarian Grand Prix victory, after claiming pole position in qualifying yesterday.
His dominance was not just exemplified by the topping of all three sessions and all three sectors, but also a blistering lap more than half a second faster than his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
It is the fifth time in succession - and ninth time this season - that Hamilton has out-performed Rosberg in qualifying.
His pole success - after clocking 1min 22.020sec - was his fifth at the Hungaroring circuit where he is the only driver to have won from pole position in the last 10 years.
Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points before a race that marks the halfway point of the season.
HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX GRID
Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes
Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes
Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull
Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams
Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Red Bull
Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams
Max Verstappen (Ned) Toro Rosso
Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus
15 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren
16 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren
"I'm incredibly happy with the weekend, I can't remember having a performance as good as this," said the 30-year-old Briton.
"I'm liking the weather, loving the city. I love the track, it feels a bit like an old go-kart circuit that we used to race on many years ago."
Rosberg, who has won three times to Hamilton's five victories this season, was on pole in Hungary last year. But he had no response to his team-mate this time on a hot and hazy afternoon.
"I don't have an explanation," he said. "I just didn't find the pace.
"It's been a bit up and down all weekend, I'm definitely not happy with how it went today."
It was the 47th pole position of Hamilton's career. It lifted him clear of fellow Briton Damon Hill with his 18th successive front-row start, leaving only the legendary Ayrton Senna to catch on 24.
Rival team chief Christian Horner of Red Bull noted that there was no catching Hamilton for now.
"Lewis is high on confidence at the moment and he wants to be the quickest in every session," he said.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and Finn Kimi Raikkonen, fifth in the second Ferrari.
McLaren, a team with an impressive record in Hungary, endured another tough afternoon with Fernando Alonso pushing his broken down car back to the pit lane.
The second phase of qualifying was red-flagged to allow marshals to help the sweating Spaniard get the McLaren off the track.
Alonso will line up in 15th place with team-mate Jenson Button alongside in 16th. Both drivers took their first grand prix wins in Hungary but even a point will be a bonus this time around.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX
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