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Hamilton Outperforms Verstappen in 2021 Hungarian GP Qualifying Session

It’s true that hard work never goes in vain. Sooner or later, it pays off, just as it has in Lewis Hamilton’s case.

After finishing fastest in the free practice rounds of the 2021 Hungarian GP, Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious with a first pole position in the qualifying rounds. He surpassed his teammate Valterri Bottas and Red Bull rival Max Verstappen to secure his 101st pole.

Here’s a quick roundup of how he did it.

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© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd. | Lewis Hamilton bagged his 101st pole position in the Hungarian GP 2021 qualifying race

First, a look at the format

The Grand Prix begins with Free Practice (FP) rounds every year followed by the Qualifying (Q) rounds and then the final race. FP rounds are held on Friday and Saturday mornings, while the Q rounds happen on Saturday afternoons. 

A Q session works in a three-stage “knockout” system. In Q1, twenty racers show their track skills but only the first 15 move to Q2. The five racers eliminated from that stage are given the last five grid positions (16 to 20) in the final race.

The same selection process continues in Q2. The five racers who finish last are eliminated and given the 11th to 15th grid position in the upcoming race. The last ten racers get a chance to fight for the pole position, and the racer who finishes first becomes a pole sitter.

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© Ferrari | A qualifying race works in three rounds, and by the end of the last round, only 10 of the original 20 racers enter the finals

A peek inside the qualifying rounds of Hungarian GP 2021

On July 31, 2021, the Q session of this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix took place at Hungaroring. It was a bright sunny day, and the stands were packed with fans. Q1 started with AlphaTauri-Honda’s Yuki Tsunoda first appearing on the tracks, followed by Haas-Ferrari’s Nikita Mazepin, Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, and Antonio Giovinazzi. The four kept testing the circuit while the others worked on their vehicles at the paddock. Soon Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas joined the session, and a few minutes later, the others also followed them. 

The racers engaged in a tough fight in Q1, and for some time, Hamilton enjoyed the first position. But he was soon replaced by Verstappen, who finished the lap in 1:16.214. Q2 saw Hamilton and Verstappen giving their best to take over the first position. Bottas also kept fighting for it, but Verstappen again finished the race fastest at 1:15.650. 

In Q3, it was a do-or-die moment for all the racers, specifically for Hamilton, who was trying hard to make it first. And as they say, when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it.

Hamilton’s effort finally won him the pole position in the last Q round. He finished the race at 1:15.419, followed by his teammate Bottas at 1:15.734. Both the drivers made sure that Verstappen couldn’t take the lead, and their strategy worked wonders. Verstappen finished at 1:15.840, losing his sixth consecutive pole position.

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© Red Bull | Verstappen finished the race at 1:15.840, losing his sixth consecutive pole position

How did the finals go?

On August 1, 2021, the final race for 2021’s Hungarian GP took place, and boy, what a race it was! Though it started with a red flag, a few drivers did manage to break some records. Alpine-Renault’s Esteban Ocon went on to win his first title ever, and Hamilton, who had an advantage, finished in second place. 

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