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Hamilton takes pole for Hungarian GP ahead of Bottas


BUDAPEST, Hungary – Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with championship leader Max Verstappen lagging behind them in third place on Saturday.

Hamilton’s record-extending 101st pole in Formula One puts him in a strong position for a record-extending 100th win on a circuit where he has won the past three races and a record eight times.

“Great efforts guys, absolutely fantastic job,” Hamilton said on radio after his third pole of the season.

“I just had the song `YMCA’ in my head the whole time,” Hamilton said afterward, laughing in reference to the Village People’s cheesy 1970s anthem. “No idea why, but it’s a great song.”

He was .315 ahead of Bottas and .421 clear of Verstappen.

“It was an amazing qualifying lap,” Hamilton said on track as some sections of the crowd jeered him, one week after he was ruled at fault for the crash which sent Verstappen out of the British GP.

Hamilton did not let it bother him.

“It’s sport, right? And people act wild. I don’t take it to heart,” he said. “I must be doing something right to be up front.”

But Bottas was upset by those booing his teammate, saying “these people need to question themselves, it’s not right.”

Verstappen, who was chasing a sixth pole this season for Red Bull, said it was “not correct” but drivers should be immune to it.

“We shouldn’t get disturbed by these kind of things,” he said. “It’s not nice but it shouldn’t influence us.”

Moments later, however, he was disturbed by a question in the news conference about the first-lap crash last week at Silverstone.

Interrupting the conference host’s question mid-sentence, Verstappen said “Can we stop about this?” He then used several expletives in an angry outburst, two days after talking at length about what he called Hamilton’s “disrespectful” victory celebrations at Silverstone.

His teammate Sergio Perez placed fourth.

Verstappen led Q1 – the first section of qualifying – from Hamilton and Q2 from Norris. The orange-shirted Dutch fans in one section of the main grandstand roared every time he came past them on the long straight.

But Hamilton and Bottas were quicker than Verstappen on their first runs in Q3.

“Don’t know why, but there’s just a massive lack of grip on this stint,” Verstappen radioed to his team.

Pole could prove crucial on Sunday, given that the sinewy and tight 4.4-kilometer (2.7-mile) Hungaroring circuit is arguably the hardest track to overtake on after Monaco.

About halfway through Q2, Carlos Sainz Jr. lost the rear of his Ferrari and slid off into a wall. The front wing dropped off the car and slid under the front tires. The Spaniard jogged away and he will start from a lowly 15th on Sunday.

Teammate Charles Leclerc, who has two poles this season and nine in his career, qualified in seventh behind Norris and AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly.

In the standings, Verstappen is eight points ahead of seven-time champion Hamilton. He leads Hamilton 5-4 for wins and 5-3 for poles.

Mick Schumacher starts from 20th and last place. He sat out qualifying after crashing earlier in the final practice and his Haas team was unable to repair his car in time.

Earlier, Hamilton clocked the fastest time in the third and final practice.

He placed a narrow .088 ahead of Verstappen and .229 clear of Bottas.

Sainz Jr. and Leclerc followed in fourth and fifth, respectively, in hot but slightly cloudy conditions.

The session was interrupted with about 15 minutes left when Schumacher – son of seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher – flew off track into a tire wall. He was unharmed but damaged the left side and lost the front wing on his Haas car, which was taken off track by a crane.

There was a near miss in the pit lane shortly after as Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi pulled out of the garage just as Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was coming past. Stroll slightly clipped the front wing of Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo but there was no damage.

On Friday, Verstappen topped the first practice and Bottas led the second one.

There is a four-week summer break after Sunday’s race, where Hamilton will look to win in Hungary for a record-extending ninth time and fourth straight.

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