BUDAPEST, Hungary—George Russell could remember the day he stood at Silverstone and waited patiently for Lewis Hamilton to sign his autograph book, never believing that on Saturday afternoon at the Hungaroring following 13 years, that he would race alongside the seven-time world champion and would take pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix, setting a time of 1:17:377, ahead of the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc.
It is Mercedes' first pole of the season, which came in handy right at the last second of qualifying, when it seemed that Ferrari would take the front row. It was also an added benefit when Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen had a horrible day, with Perez placing 11th and Verstappen 10th, following a loss of power late in the session.
"Over the moon, absolutely buzzing,” said an enthusiastic Russell afterwards. “Yesterday was probably our worst Friday of the season and everyone last night was working so hard, we didn't really know what direction to go in. But that last lap I got round Turn One, Turn Two, and the lap times just kept on coming. I came across the line and looked at the screen and saw P1 and it was an incredible feeling."
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen took the first two sessions, respectively, as both Williams of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, who shockingly took first in the earlier rain-effected third practice session. The two, along with the AlphaTauri duo of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly, in addition to Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, exited the opening session.
Along with Perez, both Haas drivers, Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, with Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and the second Aston Martin of Lance Stroll, joined them in the second session out of contention.
McLaren’s Lando Norris had a brilliant day, placing fourth, with his teammate Daniel Ricciardo ninth. Alpine kept their battle with their rivals by having Esteban Ocon fifth, and Fernando Alonso finishing in sixth. Hamilton ended up seventh in his Mercedes and Valtteri Bottas took eighth in the Alfa Romeo.
Russell despite his maiden pole still must realise that the two opposing Ferraris are stronger on this circuit but feels that he will try and do the best he can with the things that work.
"I don't know to be honest we need to look and understand where that came from there's a few ideas we had,” he added. “But generally, we had good race pace, but the Ferraris looked very fast on Friday, but we are going to be absolutely going for it [tomorrow], but either way that was a pretty special day no doubt."