Budapest (Hungary): Nico Rosberg of Mercedes will start from pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.
Qualifying on Saturday was hampered by heavy rainfall, which delayed the start by 20 minutes and also led to several interruptions and crashes, including by Felipe Massa of Williams and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
Rosberg posted a time of 1 minute, 19.965 seconds according to provisional results, 0.143 seconds faster than Hamilton, who barely made it to the last of the three qualifying session, finishing 10th in session two. Ricciardo was third, 0.172 seconds off Hamilton’s pace.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the only non-Mercedes winner so far this season, was fourth, followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Rosberg leads the championship with 168 points halfway through the 21-race season, one more than Hamilton, the two-time defending champion.
Hamilton is seeking a record fifth victory at the Hungaroring circuit. Michael Schumacher also has four wins in Hungary. Rosberg was fastest in the morning practice session, which was completed about 45 minutes before rain drenched the Hungaroring circuit.
Hamilton was fourth fastest. Before the last practice, motorsport’s governing body reaffirmed its commitment to “zero tolerance” for cars going off the track.
Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s Formula One race director, confirmed in a note to the teams that “lap times achieved by leaving the track will be deleted” during qualifying.
During the race, drivers leaving the track three times at turns 4 and 11 where electronic sensors have been installed, will be shown a black and white warning flag. One more infraction will likely lead to a drive-through penalty, Whiting said.
The penalties, however, would not be applied if FIA found that the driver left the track “for reasons beyond his control.”