George Russell claimed the first pole position of his Formula One career for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old surpassed Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz by just 0.044 seconds, while Charles Leclerc finished third.
Russell’s Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton qualified in seventh place with Max Verstappen 10th on the grid after suffering mechanical problems.
Sainz and Leclerc looked as if they had achieved a front-row lockout for Ferrari, only for Russell to snatch a stunning result with a stunning final lap at Hungaroring.
“Come on, woo, come on, yes, you beauty, you beauty,” Russell said on the radio, unable to hide his joy at his first pole and Mercedes’ first season.
“Wonderful. We needed it.”
Verstappen closed on Turn 2 on his opening run in Q3, trailing 1.7 seconds, and then reported he had no power as he prepared for his final attempt. “Nothing works,” he shouted, unable to improve on his first Q3 attempt.
Mercedes struggled for pace in practice but Russell finished a lap of his career – eight tenths behind Hamilton – to take the leading position for Sunday’s 70-lap race.
“I’m over the moon,” said Russell. “That last lap was mega. I came across the line and saw P1 and it was an incredible feeling.
“No points to qualify but we are absolutely going for it. It’s been a special day.”
Lando Norris finished fourth for McLaren, one place ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
On a bad afternoon for Red Bull, Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez took aim at Haas driver Kevin Magnussen after finishing 11th.
Perez claimed the Dane interrupted her fastest lap by saying over the radio: “F****** Magnussen. Yes, I was blocked there by Magnussen.”
Sebastian Vettel announced that he will take the wraps off his Formula One career at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi on 20 November.
After winning four consecutive titles for Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, he failed to deliver the championship in a five-season spell before joining Aston Martin.
But his one-and-a-half-year stint with the British team has been disappointing, and it’s even more trouble here when he crashed in the final practice.
Vettel worked with his mechanics to repair his injured machine in time for qualifying, but failed to drop out of the first quarter of the German qualifying 18th.
Nicolas Latifi was on top in Saturday’s rain-hit practice, but in a drought, the Canadian finished 20th and last.