Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of leading Formula One into next moth’s break took a knock on Saturday after Ferrari swept the front row in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying with the Mercedes driver fourth.
“I think it’s going to be an easy breeze for them tomorrow,” said the Briton, who is one point adrift of Ferrari’s pole position man and championship leader Sebastian Vettel after 10 of 20 races.
“You can’t overtake here so it’s most likely going to be a train unless we can do something on strategy,” Hamilton said.
History suggests he might have cause to feel gloomy, but if anyone can find a way to win against the odds at the Hungaroring, it has to be Hamilton.
He is the only driver to have won there from pole since Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2004, and the Briton has the best record of any current driver at the Hungaroring with five victories.
However, past form is no guarantee of future success and Mercedes had to recognize that Ferrari were back to their best and enjoying their most dominant Hungarian qualifying since Schumacher’s day.
With Kimi Raikkonen qualifying second, a clean start for both could see Vettel pull away while the Finn keeps the rest in check.
The other Finn on the grid, Valtteri Bottas, starts third for Mercedes.
Memories of Monaco in May, where Ferrari romped to a one-two finish while Hamilton could manage only seventh, remained raw, but Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the situation was not that dramatic.
“In Monte Carlo we had much more severe problems,” Hamilton said.
“We have become much closer to Ferrari on this type of circuit,” Hamilton added.
Hamilton had hopes of equaling Schumacher’s all-time record of 68 poles on Saturday and was fastest in the second of the three qualifying sessions, despite complaining of tire vibrations.
However, then it all unraveled, the triple champion running wide on his first flying lap of the last phase, leaving him with no safety net and an all-or-nothing attempt to beat Vettel, who had already set an absolute track record.
“I don’t think there was any moment that we had a shot of pole,” he said. “We couldn’t match the Ferrari’s time today.”
“They obviously made an improvement this weekend and deserved to get pole,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton compared the final phase to a tennis match where a player tries to serve an ace and fails. The second serve, or lap, was less aggressive.
“You just try and get as good a time in as you can, but with less risk,” he said.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017