The Austrian Grand Prix will start with a slightly different look than we’ve seen so far this season—a Ferrari on pole with a Red Bull and a Mercedes trailing it. Charles Leclerc has given Ferrari its first pole position in Austria since 2003 when Michael Schumacher did it.
Perhaps it was the lack of corners—where Mercedes gains so much with their chassis—and the long straights that favor Ferrari’s straight-line speed. The weekend looked set for a teammate upset with Leclerc quicker than Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas quicker than Lewis Hamilton. However, it was Lewis that pulled together a good lap to qualify second for the race.
In the process of qualifying in Q1, Hamilton impeded Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and the stewards gave him a 3-place grid penalty. After other penalties were assessed as well, Hamilton will start from 4th place on the grid which isn’t optimum but it is ahead of Vettel in 9th.
This leaves Leclerc battling a heavily motivated Max Verstappen at the team’s home race in Spielberg Austria. He’ll also have to hold off the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas is very keen to capitalize on Hamilton’s misfortune by reducing the points difference with a win.
Leclerc has looked quick all weekend long but can he hold off Verstappen’s Red Bull and the Merc of Bottas? It’s a big ask but both Ferrari and Bottas need to turn their season around and with Hamilton back in 4th, this may be the weekend to do it.