We had an unusually clear-cut qualifying session today. Hamilton looked top dog in practice and never really seemed like he'd fail to get pole. Happily, he got it and the tip came off. Naturally, it was better not to lay.
In Q1 Red Bull cut it fine but both cars just about managed to escape. The pointless teams departed, as did Ricciardo.
Q2 saw Sauber continue their strangely poor qualifying, with Perez 13th and Kobayashi 14th. Webber only got 11th, but that might prove slightly advantageous regarding tyres in the race (it remains uncertain whether the soft or medium tyre will be better in the race. Last week Red Bull struggled with the medium, and although Hungary will probably [see below] be hotter they still seem to have problems). Neither Mercedes escaped, with Rosberg 13th and Schumacher a poor 17th.
We've grown accustomed to Q3 being very tense and competitive, but today it wasn't, really. Hamilton got pole and was a mighty four-tenths faster than Grosjean, who got a stellar second. Vettel managed third and Button should be pleased with fourth. Raikkonen got fifth, making the session a great one for Lotus. Alonso just about led Massa (they're sixth and seventh respectively), dodgems star Maldonado got eighth, Senna will be happy with ninth and Hulkenberg got 10th.
So, a fantastic qualifying for McLaren and Lotus, and an impressive showing from Williams as well. Red Bull will be disappointed overall and I think Ferrari will be hoping to limit the damage tomorrow.
The weather forecast has improved over the week, but rain is still possible during the race. I think the odds are it won't happen, but it certainly wouldn't be a shock.
On pace, Hamilton looks unbeatable. Worryingly for his rivals, he's almost as good on medium tyres as on the soft (unlike Red Bull who seem to be struggling with the medium, as per last week in Hockenheim). Agent Neil of the PB2 Intelligence Corps has suggested that Red Bull might also be suffering from a device the team used in pit stops to adjust suspension in-race being banned.
Lotus also looked very tasty on long runs, and they tend not to chew up tyres as much as other teams. Mercedes seem to still have tyre wear issues (last race, thankfully, Schumacher had to pit once more than the Saubers which gifted Perez sixth).
It's also worth bearing in mind that Hungary is not an easy circuit to overtake on. I do expect some shuffling of the order but it won't be as thoroughly jiggled as other races this year. Unless, perhaps, it rains.
I've decided to back Grosjean to win at 8.2, with a hedge set up at 3. Whilst I agree with the market that Hamilton is the favourite by a distance more than 7/1 for the second on the grid is a bit mad. Given Hamilton's only 1.35 to lead lap 1 (he had a bad start in Hockenheim) then 'all' Grosjean has to do is pass him off the line and the hedge will probably get matched.
Vettel is less of a threat than he might be, I think, due to the Red Bull finding medium tyres tricky, and he'll probably have fun trying to keep Button and Raikkonen behind him. The loss of the engine mapping and possible loss of suspension adjustment in-race may not be significant but they won't help either.
A bad start, poor strategy/stops, heavier tyre wear than the Lotus or rain could imperil Hamilton's hopes. I do think he is the favourite for the win but the odds on Grosjean are just too long and he showed in Valencia (until reliability failed him) that he's got the speed and composure to compete for victory.
Let's hope the race is thrilling, and profitable.