Lewis Hamilton has told Max Verstappen’s fans that he is fuelled by their boos after he secured a crucial pole position for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Verstappen qualified only third, four-tenths of a second back, on Saturday with Valtteri Bottas joining his Mercedes teammate on the front row.
Moments after claiming his first pole in almost three months, Hamilton was subjected to a chorus of jeers as he attempted to conduct his post-qualifying interview.
Indeed, the boos were so loud, that Hamilton was forced to lean in to hear Johnny Herbert’s question, as the former Formula One driver pleaded with Max Verstappen’s supporters to stop.
“Enough of that, enough of that,” he implored.
As the jeers slowly began to fizzle out, Hamilton said: “I appreciate the great support I’ve had here. I’ve never actually felt so great with the booing. If anything, it just fuels me so I don’t really mind it.”
A fortnight on from Hamilton’s 180mph collision with Verstappen on the first lap of the British Grand Prix, around 10,000 Dutch fans have made the journey across Europe to the Hungaroring, a dozen miles outside of Budapest.
They are creating a hostile reception for Hamilton.
One banner here read: “Sir Cheat: Karma is on its way”, in reference to Hamilton’s 10-second penalty for his collision with Verstappen at Silverstone.
There was also another poster of Hamilton mocked up like a crying baby in his Mercedes overalls.
With an air temperature of 30 degrees, and a track surface double that, Verstappen then lost his cool by swearing in the official FIA press conference.
Both Hamilton and Verstappen were asked by the moderator what will happen if they end up wheel-to-wheel at the start of Sunday’s 70-lap race.
“Can we just stop this?” said a furious Verstappen. “We have had so many f****** questions about this that it is ridiculous.
“On Thursday we answered this stupid s*** all the time so can we just stop it, please?”
Hamilton, now eight points behind, will head into the summer break leading the championship if he wins, and Verstappen fails to improve on third.
Hamilton is the master of Hungaroring. This was his eighth pole here – one more than Michael Schumacher – and on Sunday he will bid to become the first man to win at the same venue on nine occasions. He could also secure a landmark 100th victory.
Verstappen will start Sunday’s race on the softest rubber. Hamilton will be on the slower, but more durable medium, tyre, putting him at a disadvantage when the lights go out.
“With everything going on around us we are staying focused so I am really proud of everyone,” Hamilton added.
“I don’t know what win number 100 would mean. We have not even completed half the job.”
Verstappen simply had no answer around the 14 corners that make up the slow and twisty 2.72-mile Hungaroring, finishing four-tenths behind his rival.
Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez was fourth ahead of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly.
Lando Norris is behind only Verstappen and Hamilton in the championship and the young Briton delivered another fine performance here.
Norris finished sixth, half-a-second faster than Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the other McLaren who was knocked out of Q2, suffering another bad day as he qualified only 11th.