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Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix heading a Ferrari one-two as title rival Lewis Hamilton struggled in fourth.
Hamilton, who trails Vettel by one point in the world championship, complained consistently of tyre problems in his Mercedes and had a messy session.
Vettel was 0.254 seconds quicker than the fastest Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen second.
Scot Paul di Resta qualified an excellent 19th after being drafted in as a least-minute stand-in for Williams’ Felipe Massa.
Why have Mercedes fallen back?
Mercedes have been struggling for pace all weekend and were a second or so off the Ferraris in final practice.
Without his problems, Hamilton may have had the pace to be on the front row, but suspicion is that the long-wheelbase Mercedes is simply not as well suited to the tight and twisty Hungaroring as other, faster tracks.
Mercedes made progress in qualifying, and Hamilton actually set the fastest time in the second part, albeit doing two runs rather than only one like Ferrari.
Hamilton had complained of a tyre vibration on his first run in second qualifying and the same happened on both his runs in the top 10 shoot-out.
Hamilton ran wide at the fast, blind, uphill Turn Four on his first run and aborted it, leaving him just one lap to try to beat Vettel’s scintillating initial time of one minute 16.276.
Hamilton again complained of tyre vibrations when he went out for his final run but was only 0.1secs down after the first two sectors, only to lose another 0.3secs in the final sector.
What they said
Bottas said: “They have been quick all weekend and we knew it should be close and they would be tough to beat. They got everything right today and we still have work to do on circuits like this.
“This weekend we can see we are not performing as we would like.”
Vettel, who saw his lead cut by 19 points by Hamilton after he finished seventh following a late puncture in the last race at Silverstone, said: “The last race wasn’t great for us, but it doesn’t matter now.
“I am really happy with where we are as a team. It is great to get the result on Saturday but the main task comes tomorrow.”
More to follow
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