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Nico Rosberg grabs pole

Budapest: Formula One world championship leader Nico Rosberg took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday, while Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton saw his hopes go up in flames.

Hamilton, 14 points behind Rosberg after 10 races, has won in Hungary for the past two years and four times in total and was the favourite for pole and the race after setting the pace in practice.

Instead, the Briton was set to start last and from the pitlane after his car caught fire with the session barely started.

Red Bull’s quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel qualified second, equalling his best grid placing of the season, on an all-German front row.

Finland’s Valtteri Bottas starts third in a Williams with Australian Daniel Ricciardo fourth for Red Bull on an overcast afternoon that saw light rainfall between the second and final phase of qualifying.

For the second race in a row, Rosberg was left with mixed emotions — happy to be in the top slot with every chance of extending his overall lead — but saying also that he felt cheated of a battle with his teammate.

“It’s a pity for the team, not a good thing... I would prefer to be out there battling Lewis,” he told reporters.

“That would have been the maximum adrenalin rush.”

Jenson Button, twice a winner in Hungary, in wet conditions, was seventh for McLaren ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso, Nico Hulkenberg of Force India and Magnussen.