Lewis Hamilton is on pole position at the Hungaroring this afternoon for what promises to be a dramatic 11th round of the 2023 Formula 1 season. The seven-time world champion leads the grid for the first time in some 20 months after pipping Max Verstappen by just 0.003 seconds in the final lap of a thrilling qualifying session in Hungary on Saturday, providing a massive boost for Mercedes.
But Hamilton – a record eight-time winner of this race – no doubt faces a daunting task to keep the Red Bull in his rearview mirrors today as the dominant Verstappen searches for a seventh consecutive F1 victory and his ninth of the campaign already, having extended his latest formidable title lead to 99 points and won six in a row for the first time in his career at the British Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
McLaren look set for another impressive points haul after locking out the second row with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, while Zhou Guanyu claimed a superb P5 for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Charles Leclerc, team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso. Daniel Ricciardo is 13th as he returns to race for AlphaTauri. Follow what promises to be a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix live below!
Race control does have a look at Perez potentially forcing Piastri off the track, but there’s nothing doing there and no action taken.
Hamilton has now made his second pit stop, coming back out on the mediums in fifth and looking to put pressure on Piastri.
Verstappen now told to box on lap 51, with a typically mammoth lead.
Hamilton is told by race engineer Pete Bonnington to keep the pace up as high as he can.
“This is as fast as it goes mate” the frustrated seven-time world champion responds.
Perez darts around the outside of Piastri now, with the latter exceeding track limits at Turn 2 as he battles to defend. Is that his final warning?
Leclerc has a five-second penalty now for speeding in the pit lane.
“Did Perez push you off at Turn 2?” Piastri is asked by race engineer Tom Stallard.
“He didn’t leave me much room,” is the response.
Verstappen hasn’t stopped for a second time yet, he’s more than 33 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who also hasn’t had a second pit stop.
Norris third, Piastri fourth, Perez fifth and Russell sixth.
Meanwhile, Leclerc is under investigation for potential speeding in the pit lane.
That’s a much better stop for Leclerc, in fairness to Ferrari.
The second round of pit stops continue, with Norris now in and onto the mediums.
Leclerc is ahead of Sainz now after the undercut.
An issue with the rear left tyre leads to a slow stop for Alonso.
What will Mercedes do with Hamilton?
In comes Piastri for the second time, switching onto those medium compounds.
And here comes Perez, whose stop is 1.9 seconds! Absolutely extraordinary – is that the quickest of the season?!
Piastri comes out fifth, Perez sixth.
Three laps on the bounce now Hamilton has just about kept Perez at bay, utilising all of his experience to defend stoically despite worsening grip.
Meanwhile, Leclerc is unhappy with Ferrari’s confused strategy at the moment as he’s being held up by team-mate Sainz in sixth.
We’re on it and will discuss it at the end of the race, he’s told by race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros.
“What do you mean at the end?!” a tetchy Leclerc responds.
Perez immediately whittles the gap to Hamilton down to about four-hundredths of a second on the longer straight.
This battle is the storyline of the race at the moment. Surely it’s just a matter of time for the Mexican.
Perez is really bearing down on Hamilton now, with the gap between them less than a second on lap 40 of 70.
Lewis is going to be a sitting duck on these straights very soon.
Nice move from Russell on Bottas as he moves up to ninth.
Piastri wants the medium compounds next, whereas apparently Norris is happy on the hards.
Hamilton having to work on his tyre temperatures in the corners is affecting his chances of chasing down the McLarens as he also fends off the hungry Perez behind.
Verstappen is asked for his thoughts on this hard tyre compound, telling Gianpiero Lambiase that they are a bit stiff.
Albon now follows Ricciardo for another change of tyres in his own second stop.
There are a lot of track limits being exceeded today, with Sky reporting of multiple lap times being deleted now.
Russell up to 11th for Mercedes as he works his way through the field.