‘Where did that go?’ Lewis Hamilton shocked by Red Bull losing special weapon

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was surprised by Red Bull's loss of pace.

In a stunning turn of events during the qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton managed to end his long pole position drought by claiming the 104th career pole of his Formula 1 journey, beating his old rival Max Verstappen by an incredibly slim margin of just 0.003 seconds. 

The pole position marked a remarkable turnaround for Mercedes, who struggled with pace during practice, with Hamilton having voiced concerns about the handling of his W14 car.

While Red Bull has dominated the 2023 F1 season with victories in all ten races so far, their pace advantage seems to have diminished in recent events, particularly in qualifying. 

At Silverstone, Lando Norris came close to beating Verstappen to pole, and in the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying, Verstappen was unable to improve on his final lap at the Hungaroring.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

Reflecting on Red Bull’s apparent decline, Hamilton expressed his observations, stating, “Honestly, I think they’ve slowed quite a bit from the beginning of the year. 

“I mean, just look at the DRS; they don’t have the DRS advantage all of a sudden they used to have – where did that go? 

“They just had an upgrade, so we expected them to take another step. We heard it was around two-tenths or something like that, so for them not to be able to extract that in qualifying was interesting.”

Hamilton acknowledged that Red Bull is still the quickest in race pace, making them formidable opponents for the main event. 

Article continues below

He, along with others, found the recent developments intriguing, as the gaps between teams seem to have closed in comparison to earlier in the season.

The euphoria of securing pole position was evident in Hamilton’s remarks as he expressed, “Honestly, it feels like my first pole, believe it or not. I know there’s been a lot, and it feels strange to say that when there’s been 104. I don’t remember the last time I had a pole – it feels so long ago.”

Hamilton credited his team’s efforts in making small tweaks to the rear wing and front wing of his car, which significantly improved its performance. He highlighted the importance of gaining confidence in the car, especially on a challenging track like the Hungaroring, where finding the right rhythm is crucial.

Describing the exhilarating final run in qualifying, Hamilton explained, “With this last run, I knew I needed a tenth or so, or more, to get ahead of these guys, and I just sent it. 

READ: Sergio Perez leaves Christian Horner speechless

“I was like nothing to lose, give it absolutely everything you’ve got. I threw it into the high-speed corners, trying to match their speed and hope it wasn’t too far off. It was a great, great lap.”

While qualifying disappointed, Red Bull bounced back in the race, as Verstappen secured a seventh consecutive win for himself and 12th win in a row for the team. 

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez also enjoyed a comeback after failing to impress in qualifying, securing a P3 podium finish, as he battles to save his career at Red Bull.