Lewis Hamilton fell short in his bid to match Michael Schumacher’s pole record after he qualified a disappointing fourth for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was handed his first chance of matching Schumacher’s tally of 68 poles, but he was nearly half-a-second adrift of championship rival Sebastian Vettel who stormed to the front spot on the grid at the Hungaroring.
Kimi Raikkonen joins his Ferrari team-mate on the front row of the grid, with Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas third.
Hamilton, with his father Anthony watching on from the back of the Mercedes garage, ran wide at Turn 4 during his first attempt at pole and had to abandon his lap.
It left the Briton with one final go to match Schumacher’s record, but after complaining about vibrations on his car throughout Saturday’s session, he finished a distant 0.431 sec off Vettel’s blistering effort.
To make matters worse for Hamilton and indeed his Mercedes team, Raikkonen pipped Bottas with his final throw of the dice as Ferrari secured their second front-row lockout of the season.
It was the perfect retort from Vettel, one point ahead of Hamilton in the championship race, after he finished a lowly seventh at the British Grand Prix a fortnight ago following a penultimate-lap puncture.
“It is only Saturday so there is nothing to get from today other than the best position on the grid, but we did that which is great,” Vettel said. “The talk after the last race was a bit too much so it was good to deliver the answer on the track.”
Britain’s Paul di Resta was handed his first taste of grand prix action in almost four years after he was dramatically called up to replace the unwell Felipe Massa on the eve of qualifying.
Indeed Di Resta, the reserve driver for Williams, was told he would be filling in for Massa just 90 minutes before Saturday’s session.
The Scot raced at Force India for three years, and Sunday’s race will be his 59th F1 start, but his 11th hour call-up marked the first time he had turned a Formula One car’s wheel in anger since the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in 2013.
Di Resta put a string of commendable laps together and qualified last but one, and within eight tenths of a second of Lance Stroll in the sister Williams and 2.6 sec off the pace of the leaders.
Massa had been given the all-clear to race by the FIA after he was taken to hospital following complaints of dizziness on Friday night. But the Brazilian had to cut short his run in final practice on Saturday morning, completing just 12 laps after falling unwell again. He hopes to be fit for the first race after the summer break at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Di Resta’s inclusion means there are three British drivers on the grid this weekend. Jolyon Palmer, who is without a single point to his name this season, qualified 11th.
Palmer, 26, will be bumped up one spot on the grid after his Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, who qualified seventh, was penalised five places following a gearbox change.
Fernando Alonso celebrated his 36th birthday with one of his best qualifying performances of what has been a torrid year for both the two-time world champion and his under-performing British team. Alonso finished eighth ahead of his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in ninth.