George Russell after earning his first career pole. (Mercedes AMG Photo)

Russell Surprises In First Career Pole

MOGYOROD, Hungary — George Russell was the surprise pole winner during qualifying Saturday afternoon at the Hungaroring for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Driving for Mercedes, Russell romped to a lap of 1 minute and 17.377 seconds to earn the first pole of his Formula 1 career.

“I’m over the moon and absolutely buzzing,” Russell said. “Yesterday was disastrous for us and probably the worst Friday of the season. The team was working so hard last night and we were able to make a big step forward. In Formula 1 there are so many fine margins and when you get in that perfect window, your car will just fly, which we managed to do in today’s conditions.

“We didn’t know what direction to go in but on the last lap I came across the line, looked at the screen and saw we went P1, which was such an incredible feeling,” Russell continued. “We need to look into our performance from today and understand where it came from. We have a few ideas, but don’t fully understand it yet. Getting this result today is really huge for all of us. I’m so happy for the whole team and we will do our best to have a great day tomorrow and give it our all.”

His lap was .044 seconds quicker than the hot lap turned by Ferrari wheelman Carlos Sainz. Sainz’s teammate, Charles Leclerc was third.

Lando Norris took fourth for McLaren, while Alpine teammates Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso will share the third row.

Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes will start seventh.

World champion Max Verstappen will grid from 10th after suffering a power failure during the third qualifying session.