A magnanimous Sebastian Vettel praised what he described as an “exceptional” lap from Lewis Hamilton that denied him pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but remained quietly confident for his chances of returning the favour in tomorrow’s race.
The duo staged an entertaining qualifying battle which looked as though it would go to the Red Bull Racing man, when the German’s initial effort was at one point over eight tenths quicker than his nearest rival following the first runs for the majority of the drivers in Q3.
The triple world champion went quicker on his second run, but it was not to be enough as Hamilton snatched his fourth pole position at Hungary by a mere 0.038s at the last gasp.
Vettel felt that he had done enough to secure the pole position with his efforts, but admitted that Hamilton’s “aggressive” late lap which bumped him to second on the grid demanded respect.
“At the end of the day I was pretty happy with my lap but it was just not quick enough,” Vettel conceded. “Obviously Mercedes have a very strong pace in qualifying.
“I think Lewis did an exceptional job today if you look at the gap to Nico. You have to be fair and respect that. I’m not arguing with that.
“There wasn’t much missing. I was pretty happy with both laps,” he said. “Maybe on the second try I was losing out a little bit in the middle sector. It’s very twisty and there’s a lot of corners in a short amount of time, and maybe I wasn’t aggressive enough there. But it’s stupid now to sit here and say maybe we should’ve done this or that.”
Despite missing out on qualifying bragging rights, Vettel remained upbeat for his chances of victory in Sunday’s race, confident that the Red Bull will be stronger in the race after looking the car to beat over the previous two days.
“Surely I would have loved to be a little bit faster and to be on pole but still I think it puts us in a great place for tomorrow. I think we have a good car and good pace also for the race.”