Lewis Hamilton takes pole but no comfort in Budapest

Briton admits that due to tyre problems he 'needs a miracle' to win today's Hungarian Grand Prix

BUDAPEST

Lewis Hamilton snatched a brilliant pole position from under Sebastian Vettel's nose here yesterday, then admitted: "I'm not really looking forward to the race."

The Briton didn't even know he was on pole until he was informed during his slow-down lap. Yet such are Mercedes's ongoing problems with Pirelli tyre degradation over race distances that he said it would take a miracle for him to equal Michael Schumacher's record of four wins for two different marques in today's Hungarian Grand Prix.

"I was surprised when they told me over the radio that I was on pole," Hamilton admitted. "I was expecting Seb to get it with the pace he had shown earlier, and didn't even think mine was that quick a lap. I was really surprised. I actually thought maybe they'd made a mistake."

As Vettel sat in the press conference smirking like a man who knows he's going to be in his usual excellent shape when the red lights go out this afternoon, Lotus's Romain Grosjean, third fastest, replayed last year's super-competitive race in his head while figuring out how to take the big step towards his first F1 victory.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was stoic rather than ecstatic. It is hard to maintain the motivation and commitment he had just demonstrated so superlatively when you know you will effectively have one hand tied behind your back come race time.

"We know from practice what our long-run situation is," Hamilton said, referring to the way the Mercedes eats tyres in a race. "I didn't feel like it was a disaster by any means, but it's definitely not as good as these guys.

"To be honest, I'm not really looking forward to the race. I was just saying to Seb it's a shame to have such good pace now but to know that with the tyre issue I won't be able to compete with him in the race. Of course I'll be doing my best and we're starting in a good position but I don't see a chance for us tomorrow. We have such a steep hill to climb with these tyres. If we were to win, it would be a miracle."

Vettel was much happier. "There wasn't much missing from my lap," he suggested. "Maybe I wasn't aggressive enough. I think the time that Lewis did was in our car too, but it would be stupid to sit here now and say we should have done this or that.

"At the end of the day I'm happy with the lap but it just wasn't quick enough. Lewis did a fantastic job."

As usual, Vettel was prepared to give credit where it was due, but he couldn't resist slipping in a reminder. "The Mercedes has great speed in qualifying. But we have a good car and good pace for the race."

That's why, with track temperatures of 50C expected, the fight for victory is much more likely to be between Vettel and Grosjean. Lotus had a scare when the Frenchman's car failed technical inspection due to "excessive flexure of the undertray", and it appeared that Grosjean would be sent to the back of the grid. But it transpired that a stay had broken after impact with a kerb in Turn 11 during the second qualifying session and no penalty was applied.

The black and gold cars would have been first and second ahead of Hamilton here last year had the race gone another lap, and they were Vettel's principal opposition in Germany three weeks ago. Lotus paid a lot of attention to optimising the car around the 2013 tyres during its design, and so is the kindest machine on its tyres and thus strong in high temperatures. "I'm really relieved that everything is okay," Grosjean said. "Now I can focus on doing everything I can to win."

Hamilton did his best to keep his spirits up. "It's very difficult to follow here because of the effect on your tyres running in dirty air, so being on pole helps. It's a long run down to Turn One, but if you can hold on it's definitely advantageous to lead. But these guys are going to be ridiculously fast, so trying to keep ahead of them is going to be tough."

Raikkonen's Red Bull silence slows F1 merry-go-round

Kimi Raikkonen's poker face, allied to the searing heat in Hungary, has driven F1's traditional who-goes-where silly season into overdrive, writes David Tremayne. Many F1 insiders believe his deal to replace Mark Webber alongside Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull in 2014 has been agreed, but he has stonewalled.

"There is going to be an overall package that feels right for me," the 2007 world champion said. "The decision might feel stupid to somebody else, but then it might feel right for me."

The situation will be monitored closely by British racers James Calado and Jolyon Palmer. The former made a huge impression in his first F1 test with Force India at Silverstone last week, lapping close to regular driver Paul Di Resta's pace, while former F1 racer Jonathan Palmer's son won yesterday's GP2 race in style here. If Raikkonen leaves Lotus either Di Resta or Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg could replace him, potentially generating opportunities for them.

But the 17-year-old Russian Sergey Sirotkin, widely touted last week for a Sauber ride in 2014, is unlikely to graduate yet.

"Things can be coming too early for you," said Vettel, who entered F1 at 19. "It clearly took me a while to understand how Formula One works, and to make sure that the car wasn't driving me."

Raikkonen, who burst into F1 with Sauber aged 21 after just 23 races in the junior Formula Renault series, said: "For sure they will take him if they feel it's the right thing, so I don't see that age will be the problem."

Sirotkin, who turns 18 in August, would replace the Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari, who made his debut here in 2009 aged 19 years and 125 days, as F1's youngest-ever driver.

His manager, Igor Salaquarda, dampened the hype, saying: "He should spend more time in the 3.5- litre class to gain more experience."

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Sport
A view of today's Spanish papers
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
people

Sport
sportAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
books

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London