Max Verstappen takes 1st career pole position at Hungarian GP
BUDAPEST, Hungary— Max Verstappen produced a near-perfect lap at the Hungarian Grand Prix to take the first pole position of his Formula One career on Saturday.
The Red Bull driver set a track record with 1 minute, 14.958 seconds and then beat it again with 1:14.572.
It was another boost for the 21-year-old Verstappen, who has won two of the past three races to creep into outside contention for the title race.
“This feels good, this feels really good,” said Verstappen, who became the 100th F1 driver to take a pole. “This one was missing. … It was only a matter of time.”
Verstappen is the youngest driver to win an F1 race — he was 18 when he won the Spanish GP in 2016 — and is the fourth youngest to take pole. He sits behind Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc and record-holder Sebastian Vettel, who were all also 21.
Valtteri Bottas qualified in second place ahead of his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, the five-time F1 champion who was chasing a record-extending 88th career pole and record-equaling seventh at the Hungaroring circuit to match F1 great Michael Schumacher.
Leclerc, who took his first career pole in Bahrain in March, placed fourth ahead of his Ferrari teammate Vettel. The Ferraris were quickest in the first sector of qualifying but both tailed off.
Leclerc recovered well after spinning the car in the first part of qualifying, known as Q1, sliding backward into the barriers and drifting back onto the track as a Williams car came flying past.
Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly qualified sixth ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, who has impressed in his debut season.
But Daniel Ricciardo, a winner of seven F1 races, was among the five drivers eliminated from Q1. Ricciardo, who left Red Bull and made a surprising move to join Renault, starts from 18th place.
Renault struggled again as German driver Nico Hulkenberg was among the five eliminated from Q2.
Earlier, Hamilton had the fastest time in the third and final practice ahead of Verstappen.
Hamilton leads the championship by 41 points ahead of Bottas, who is fighting for a new Mercedes contract next year, with Verstappen 63 points behind in third place heading into the mid-season summer break. After Sunday’s race, F1 resumes at the Belgian GP on Sept. 1.
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