Hamilton takes Mercedes to Pole for Styrian GP

1
Photo: Pirelli Media

Qualifying for the Styrian GP in Austria was a wet affair having been delayed after a formally canceled Free Practice 3 session. Still, the weather parted and the rain held off lang enough for a qualifying session to be slid under the door.

Q1

With the break in the rain, the teams knew that there was a possibility that they may not get all three sessions in so the cars stacked at the light gantry at the end of the pitman waiting for it to go green. Sebastian Vettel was the first in line. Alex Albon remained in the garage waiting.

Romain Grosjean ran wide into the gravel on his out lap while Vettel put int he first hot lap with a 1:24.235s. Antonio Giovinazzi doing a nice job of following Vettel across the line with George Russell jumping to the top of the time sheet on initial runs briefly before Charles Leclerc jumps ahead.

With 10 minutes left, Lewis Hamilton took his Mercedes to the top of the time sheets quickly followed but Leclerc as the track dried and times began to fall. Max Verstappen then jumped to the top and the drivers began dragging the times down into the 1:20.6s range.

The Racing Point duo of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were struggling to stay clear of the elimination zone and as good as they had looked in the dry, they were telling a different story in the wet. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas jumped his Mercedes to the top just ahead of Hamilton as midfield contenders jumped to the top amid a drying track with just 5 minutes left.

With just three sets of full-wet tires, the team were very cautious of throwing more tires at the first session in qualifying. Eventually Racing Point were able to get up to 9th with just 3 minutes left but would it be enough as all the teams came out for their final runs? Perez still struggling to get out of the bottom five as George Russell jumped to 9th and in to Q2. The first time since Brazil in 2018 that the team made it into Q2.

Out in Q1- Romain Grosjean (no time set), Sergio Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kimi Raikkonen, Nicholas Latifi

Q2

Fewer cars were stacked at pit exit for the start of the session as the sessions began but it still looked like a car park. Sebastian Vettel, once again, led the pack.

On initial runs, it was Bottas at the top with a 1:19.006s as the benchmark for the session. Leclerc and Pierre Gasly followed in 2nd and 3rd proving the changing condition of the track. Despite that, the field were over a second slower than Bottas until Hamilton jumped to the top with just 10 minutes left.

It was Verstappen who jumped to the top over half a second faster than Hamilton setting the benchmark at 1:18.155s. Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon off the pace from their veteran teammates languishing close to the elimination zone.

Both Ferrari’s were seriously struggling for grip with Leclerc and Vettel at the elimination zone in 10th and 11th with just 5:30s left in the session. The rain was back and creating havoc for Ferrari as the lap times were now slowing and it made the initial laps of the session the most critical which Ferrari missed out on. Stunningly Charles Leclerc was eliminated in Q2, bested by an Alpha Tauri. Leclerc said he was struggling to drive the car while Russell managed to get his Williams up to 12th. With some attrition, it could be a good chance for Williams to get some points.

Out in Q2- Kevin Magnussen, George Russell, Lance Stroll, Daniel Kvyat, Charles Leclerc

Q3

This session it was Verstappen who was at the head fo the stacked cars waiting for the green light. It was more damp on the track with the rain picking up slightly and for McLaren’s Lando Norris, he had a 3-place grid penalty to cover so qualifying was critical for him.

Max set a benchmark time at 1:21.800s revealing just how much water there was in the session and Hamilton managed a lap two and half tenths down on Max followed by Bottas.

Esteban Ocon turned the switch on and jumped ahead of his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, with Pierre Gasly setting a terrific lap up in 3rd with just 6:30s left in the session. It was Bottas who got focused and jumped to the top with a 1:21.036s with 5 minutes left.

Hamilton answered the call by taking to top time with just 4 minutes left. Alex Albon managed to jump his teammate, Verstappen, to 3rd place with 3 minutes left. Carlos Sainz jumped his McLaren up to 5th with 2 minutes left. Gasly was having a terrific session running 4th with 1 minute left.

Max Verstappen spun on the last corner as Vettel was pitting ending his run for pole. This left Hamilton and Bottas hunting for pole and it was Lewis who took pole position with a 1:19.273s ahead of Verstappen and Sainz. Bottas, last week’s winner, was relegated to 4th quickest and Ocon answered critics by besting his teammate to take 5th. Vettel was last in 10th place.

Styrian Grand Prix Qualifying Results

POSDRIVERCARTIMEGAP
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m19.273s
2Max VerstappenRed Bull/Honda1m20.489s1.216s
3Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren/Renault1m20.671s1.398s
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1m20.701s1.428s
5Esteban OconRenault1m20.922s1.649s
6Alexander AlbonRed Bull/Honda1m21.011s1.738s
7Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri/Honda1m21.028s1.755s
8Daniel RicciardoRenault1m21.192s1.919s
9Lando NorrisMcLaren/Renault1m20.925s1.652s
10Sebastian VettelFerrari1m21.651s2.378s
11George RussellWilliams/Mercedes1m19.636s0.363s
12Lance StrollRacing Point/Mercedes1m19.645s0.372s
13Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri/Honda1m19.717s0.444s
14Charles LeclercFerrari1m19.628s0.355s
15Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1m20.211s0.938s
16Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1m21.372s2.099s
17Sergio PerezRacing Point/Mercedes1m21.607s2.334s
18Nicholas LatifiWilliams/Mercedes1m21.759s2.486s
19Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1m21.831s2.558s
20Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari

 

Lando Norris has a three-place grid penalty for a yellow flag infringement from FP1 while Charles Leclerc received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Daniil Kvyat in Q2.

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MIE

Ferrari’s problems would seem to be more than just lack of power. In the wet the power output is less important than in the dry. The poor performance in qualifying this weekend would indicate that they have a poor car as well as less power than last season. The lack of improvement from the upgrades would seem to indicate that either their wind tunnel or CFD simulation are not accurately reflecting what is happening on track. Not only are the slowest manufacturer team, they are behind McLaren as well. It’s been a long time since the team were this far… Read more »