Verstappen Drives Home the Advantage
Max Verstappen took his second pole in as many races as he pipped both the Mercedes once again looking to build on his championship lead.
A qualifying session, that came down to the finest of margin in times and track limits, saw Lewis Hamilton once again on the back foot going into Sunday. Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who had been handed a three-place grid penalty on Friday for his dangerous spin in the pit lane, went P2 at the end of Q3, but would be starting P5, promoting Lando Norris to the second row.
Bottas, though, was held up by the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda who ended up P8, but the young Japanese driver will be waiting for the stewards’ decision to see whether he gets a grid penalty too or not. Bottas’ penalty leaves Hamilton starting behind his championship rival. With the weather forecast predicting rain, we are sure to be in for an exciting Styrian Grand Prix.
Qualifying 1 (Eliminated – Nicholas Latifi, Esteban Ocon, Kimi Räikkönen, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin)
Nicholas Latifi got the session underway, with the Haas’ of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin behind him.
Max Verstappen, who topped FP1 and FP2, went P1, followed closely by the McLaren of Lando Norris who was just a tenth behind. Norris was displaced by Valtteri Bottas who slotted in second. The order was Verstappen, Bottas, Norris and Hamilton with three minutes to go for the session which saw the action pick up. Barring the top four, all 16 cars were on the track, trying to get in their flying laps, knowing that a few hundredths could see you eliminated. Kimi Räikkönen, who ended the session at P17, was less than a second slower than Verstappen at P1, showcasing how tight the margins were.
The shock of the session was Alpine’s Esteban Ocon who saw himself get eliminated along with the Williams of Latifi, Haas of Schumacher and Mazepin, and the Alfa Romeo of Räikkönen. The Frenchman starts a disappointing P16 in a race he would have hoped to regain some form in after a terrible French Grand Prix last weekend.
Q2 (Eliminated – George Russell, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and Antonio Giovinazzi)
Verstappen once again led the session but was pipped by his former teammate Pierre Gasly, who went 1:04.429 to go 0.004 seconds quicker to take P1.
As the cars came out for their final flying laps, it was once again a jam-packed track with all cars barring Gasly’s out on the track in a bid to improve their times. It was the Williams of George Russell, though, who almost caused a major upset as he went P10 momentarily before being displaced by the Alpine of Fernando Alonso. Russell eventually missed out on his first top 10 shootout by eight thousandths of a second, once again showing how close it was during the qualifying session.
Along with tight margins in lap times, it was track limits that played a crucial part, as track-limit infringements saw Sebastian Vettel and Carlos Sainz have their final lap times deleted which saw both drivers miss out on the top 10 shootout. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo had a shocker after failing to make it to Q3, especially when his teammate finished the session at P2, only to be pipped off the top spot right at the end by Sergio Pérez.
Q3 – Verstappen piles on Mercedes’ misery
Lewis Hamilton got the session underway with a 1:04.205m but it was his championship rival who took provisional pole by going 1:03.841m – the first driver to get into the 1m 03s for the weekend.
Hamilton’s final flying lap saw him go wide at Turn 9 and he could only manage P3, as his teammate went P2. Hamilton’s compatriot Lando Norris put in a smashing final lap to go P4 followed by Sergio Pérez.
The Final Line Up
*Awaiting investigation decision by the rave stewards