Renault and Daniel Ricciardo had another qualifying disaster, this time at the Hungarian Grand Prix, as the Australian watched his former Red Bull teammate take the first pole of his career.
Max Verstappen scored a long-overdue first formula one pole position ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and championship leader Lewis
Ricciardo, who left Red Bull to join Renault at the end of last season, ended up 18th after failing to time his run in the first qualifying session.
“The car actually felt OK,” Ricciardo said in a team statement. “We got caught in traffic and when I got to the last corner there were other cars that were backed up.
“At that stage you have a choice of trying to pass and keep your tyre temperature up or hang back and start the lap with cold tyres. I tried to go, but it was too late and then the lap was compromised.
It’s going to be a tough race but tomorrow is another day so let’s see what happens.”
Instead of Hamilton taking a record-equalling seventh pole in Hungary, and 88th of his career, 21-year-old Verstappen wrote his name in the record books as the sport’s 100th driver to secure a pole.
“This feels good, this feels really good,” Verstappen shouted over the team radio after a roar had gone up from his massed supporters on Saturday.
“It’s incredible. This one was still missing. The car felt good all weekend and you know it’s always going to be hard in qualifying but we managed to do it,” he said afterwards.
“For me, today was an important one, a very nice one and a great one for the team.”
Finland’s Bottas, 41 points behind Hamilton after 11 of 21 races, qualified alongside Verstappen on the front row of the grid.
Verstappen was on top in the first phase, with Hamilton second, and the positions were reversed in the second stage.
Verstappen’s final flying lap of one minute 14.572 seconds was enough to beat Bottas by 0.018 – a difference that translates into a mere 1.06 metres over the twisting 4.38km track.
Hamilton’s best effort was a 1:14.769.
“It’s an incredible feeling to get your first pole so I’m really happy for him,” Britain’s reigning champion Hamilton said of Verstappen.
I’m always up for a fight. It’s a long way down to Turn One so it should be interesting. It’s not the easiest place to overtake here but I hope we can give them a run for their money.”
Charles Leclerc was the quicker of the two Ferrari drivers in fourth place, despite smashing backwards into the tyre wall during the first phase and damaging his car’s rear wing, forcing a quick change.
Teammate Sebastian Vettel will line up fifth, with Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly sixth and McLaren’s Lando Norris the best of the rest in seventh and just ahead of Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz
Renault’s sporting director Alan Permane admitted it was a tough qualifying for Ricciardo and hinted that the weekend may be a write off for the Australian.
“Daniel’s P18 in qualifying is a hard one to take,” he said. “The track evolution is significant over a session, but waiting until the end leaves the door open for traffic. Daniel had time to back off, but was perhaps not aware of the extent of the situation.
“Given we are towards the back we will use the opportunity to change his PU [power unit] and take penalties to avoid taking them at a race where there is perhaps more potential to make up ground.
“Nevertheless we will approach the race tomorrow looking for every opportunity to move up and leave with some points on the board.”