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Rosberg on pole, Hamilton at the back for Hungarian GP

Budapest, Hungary (SportsNetwork.com) - Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg captured his sixth pole of the season while his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, experienced an engine fire in the early going of Saturday's qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Rosberg bumped Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel from the pole position in the closing seconds when he made a lap around the Hungaroring circuit in 1 minute, 22.715 seconds.

A brief shower interrupted the start of the final qualifying round (Q3). With slippery conditions in turn 1, McLaren's Kevin Magnussen spun out and slammed into the barrier. Magnussen was not injured during the incident but qualifying was stopped briefly for repairs to the barrier.

Rosberg is seeking his fifth grand prix victory of the season. He won last weekend's German Grand Prix, his home race.

"That was a very tough qualifying session today, especially with the rain at the beginning of Q3," said Rosberg, who claimed his 10th career pole in F1. "It's difficult to judge which braking point is best in changing conditions, so I was a bit over the limit at times, especially in turn 1. I was lucky there, but in the end, I nailed the last lap. So I'm quite happy to be starting from pole."

Hamilton, who has won the Hungarian GP four times, including victories the past two years, qualified 21st after failing to set a time in Q1 due to his engine fire. He had posted the fastest laps in all three practice sessions for this race.

"I can't really believe it today. There was just nothing I could do," Hamilton said. "There was an issue with the car as I was coming out of the second-to- last corner and then the engine just cut out. I thought we could get it back to the garage, but then I looked in my mirrors and saw the whole rear end was on fire and that was it. Now we need to see what damage has been done to the car and see if the gearbox or engine needs to be changed."

Hamilton, the 2008 F1 world champion, had a disastrous qualifying session in Germany as well. He suffered brake disc failure on his right-front, causing him to spin out and slam hard into the barrier. Hamilton later received a grid penalty for an unapproved gearbox change. He started 20th but rebounded nicely with a third-place finish in the German GP.

"It's getting to the point where it's beyond back luck now," he said. "As a team, we need to do better. I need to somehow find the way to turn this into a positive for tomorrow, then build on that going into the race. It will be very difficult, as [Hungaroring] is one of the hardest circuits to overtake on."

Rosberg enters Sunday's 70-lap Hungarian GP with a 14-point lead over Hamilton.

"It's a real shame for Lewis and the team," Rosberg said of Hamilton's qualifying incident in Hungary. "I know how much it hurts to have technical failure where there is nothing you can do as a driver. We need to sort out the reliability issues, but I know that tonight there will be a great team effort to fix his car, just like in Hockenheim [German GP] where the whole garage pitched in to help rebuild it.

"It takes away a bit of the excitement when there is no gloves-off battle because that's what we are here for. But tomorrow is a long race, and I'm sure that Lewis can get another good result."

Vettel's final lap in Q3 was clocked in 1:23.201, giving him the provisional pole. The four-time F1 world champion had P1 for only a few seconds before Rosberg completed his last lap and took the pole. Vettel matched his best qualifying finish of the season. He also qualified second for the Malaysian Grand Prix in March.

"I think historically we've always had a competitive car around here," Vettel said. "It seems that we are a little bit closer, but Nico's final lap was very good. The gap was bigger than we were hoping for because if we get everything perfect and Nico maybe has a bit of a wobble then we can have a crack. But it didn't happen."

Valtteri Bottas from Williams placed third in qualifying, while Vettel's teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, took the fourth spot. Fernando Alonso from Ferrari was fifth.

Finishing sixth through ninth were: Felipe Massa (Williams), Jenson Button (McLaren), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) and Nico Hulkenberg (Force India).

Magnussen did not post a time in Q3 due to his accident, as he finished 10th in qualifying. But Magnussen will have to start the race from pit lane after his team had to make a chassis and gearbox change to his badly-damaged car.

"Starting from the pit lane will make life more difficult, but I'm determined to have a strong race," Magnussen said.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen failed to advance into Q2 after he opted not to run another lap late in the opening round. Raikkonen held a transfer spot until he was bumped in the final seconds of Q1. He qualified 17th.

Pastor Maldonado from Lotus did not record a lap in Q1 when he experienced a problem with his car and came to a halt on the track in the opening minutes. Maldonado will start alongside Hamilton on the last row.

07/26 11:53:24 ET


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