Hungarian GP Qualifying: Russell wins maiden pole position

Mercedes driver George Russell grabbed his maiden pole position in Formula One at the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: Mercedes driver George Russell.

FILE PHOTO: Mercedes driver George Russell. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mercedes driver George Russell grabbed his maiden pole position in Formula One at the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

George Russell won his first career Formula One pole with a fast final qualifying lap Saturday at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

It gave Mercedes its first pole of the season on the same day reigning F1 champion and current points leader Max Verstappen lost power and qualified a season-worst 10th.

Russell screamed in celebration after beating Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc to grab the first pole of his career.

“Whooooo, come on! Yes! Hahahaha. You beauty! You beauty!” yelled Russell before jumping into the arms of his engineers.

Verstappen unleashed a series of expletives as his qualifying was undone.

Verstappen struggled with grip then complained of having “no power ... nothing works” on his second attempt.

The Hungaroring track, nestled amid rolling hills just outside of Budapest, had dried out somewhat for afternoon qualifying following a huge downpour during third practice.

Leclerc — who leads F1 with seven poles this season — crashed while leading the French GP last Sunday to hand Verstappen a win that gave the Dutchman a 63-point lead over Leclerc in the standings.

But now Leclerc has an ideal chance to close the gap Sunday on one of F1’s hardest tracks for passing.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez had a disappointing session and starts from 11th place.

“It’s been a bad day,” Perez said. “It’s certainly going to be difficult to overtake tomorrow.”

Lando Norris of McLaren qualified fourth ahead of Esteban Ocon — last year’s winner — Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. ———

WET PRACTICE

Drivers had earlier tackled a difficult rain-drenched third practice.

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel lost the rear tires and went backward into the crash barriers, bringing out a red flag with about 10 minutes to go. The session restarted with four minutes left.

After the intense heat of Friday, rain began thundering down around midday and the Hungaroring track was drenched by the 1 p.m. start.

The Ferraris were the first to go out and Leclerc slid as he missed a chicane.

As rain got even heavier and visibility worsened, Vettel — who is retiring at the end of the season — missed a turn and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly just about avoided a crash barrier, then later did a 360 spin.

Russell said he was “struggling a lot,” Ricciardo spoke of having “absolutely no grip” and Haas driver Mick Schumacher complained his rear tires felt like they were slipping on ice.

Williams driver Nicholas Latifi surprised everyone by posting the fastest time on his final lap.

“I was wondering if that clapping was for me,” joked Latifi, who is last in the standings and yet to score a point.

That joy was short-lived as the Canadian driver was among the five eliminated from Q1, along with Vettel and Gasly.

“I’m gutted,” said Gasly, who had one of his lap times deleted for going off track limits, also at Turn 5.

Latifi starts last on Sunday.

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