BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday with a blistering lap more than half a second faster than downcast Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.
The two title rivals will line up together on the front row on Sunday, with Ferrari’s four times champion Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Australian 2014 race winner Daniel Ricciardo behind them on the second row.
The pole was Hamilton’s ninth in 10 races this season, the 47th of his career and left the Briton perfectly placed for a fifth career win at the Hungaroring.
Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points before a race that marks the halfway point of the season.
“I‘m incredibly happy with the weekend, I can’t remember having a performance as good as this,” said Hamilton, who has now been on pole five times in Hungary and went fastest in all three practice sessions.
“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 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.”
Behind the top four, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen qualified fifth with fellow-Finn Valtteri Bottas lining up sixth for Williams.
Red Bull’s Russian Daniil Kvyat and Brazilian Felipe Massa, for Williams, share the fourth row.
McLaren, a team with an impressive record in Hungary, endured another tough afternoon with Fernando Alonso pushing his broken down car back to the pitlane likely to be one of the year’s enduring images.
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 win in Hungary but even a point will be a bonus this time around.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris