Nico Rosberg saw off the late challenge of Sebastian Vettel to snatch pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix, after a fire eliminated his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the opening part of qualifying.
Rosberg claimed his sixth pole of the season and the tenth of his career with a lap of 1:22.715. The German will be joined on the front row by Vettel, while Valtteri Bottas was third for Williams, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull.
For the second consecutive race weekend there was drama in the opening segment of qualifying, with Hamilton eliminated early on after a fuel leak caused a fire at the rear of the Mercedes, forcing the 2008 champion to pull up in the pit entry, leaving him just 21st.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will share the third row, fifth and sixth fastest, with Jenson Button seventh for McLaren, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who topped Q1, in eighth.
Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top ten for Force India and McLaren respectively, the Dane prompting the red flags after he crashed heavily at turn one during the opening minutes of the final shootout.
Daniil Kvyat was 11th for Toro Rosso, despite a late spin in Q2 which brought out the yellow flags, ahead of Adrian Sutil, who recored his best qualifying result of the year for Sauber.
Sergio Perez was 13th in the second Force India, after the Mexican was hit with a similar hydraulic issue to that suffered by his team-mate during final practice, with Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez 14th, one spot ahead of a disappointed Romain Grosjean, just 15th for Lotus.
Ferrari starlet Jules Bianchi was 16th for Marussia, the Frenchman having stunned the Scuderia by knocking Kimi Raikkonen out in the opening part of qualifying, leaving the Finn just 17th, after the teams decision to preserve a set of soft tyres backfired.
Kamui Kobayashi was 18th, ahead of Max Chilton, who slowed with a fuel pressure problem on his final run in the second Marussia, and his Caterham team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado, like Hamilton, failed to set a time during the opening part of qualifying, the Venezuelan stopping out on track during his first run.
Qualifying – Provisional Classification
1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:22.715
2. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:23.201 +0.486
3. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:23.354 +0.639
4. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:23.391 +0.676
5. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:23.909 +1.194
6. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:24.223 +1.508
7. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:24.294 +1.579
8. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:24.720 +2.005
9. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:24.775 +2.060
10. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – No time set in Q3
11. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:24.706 +1.396
12. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:25.136 +1.826
13. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:25.211 +1.901
14. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:25.260 +1.950
15. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:25.337 +2.027
16. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:27.419 +4.109
17. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:26.792 +1.851
18. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault – 1:27.139 +2.198
19. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:27.819 +2.878
20. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:28.643 +3.702
21. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – No time set in Q1
22. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus-Renault – No time set in Q1
Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS