Leclerc scores pole position at the Red Bull Ring

Charles Leclerc achieved his second Formula 1 pole position at the Red Bull Ring for Ferrari, while teammate Sebastian Vettel was hit by a mechanical issue in Q3.

The rising Ferrari star was the class of the field throughout the Austrian Grand Prix qualifying, setting two laps significant enough for pole position in Q3.

Leclerc’s took provisional pole with a time of one minute, 03.208 seconds on his first run, then set the fastest times of all in the second and third sectors to improve to a one minute, 03.003 seconds.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who complained of not being strong enough on the straights, moved from fourth to second on his final lap – ending up 0.259 seconds slower.

Hamilton will also be investigated after the session for potentially impeding Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 3 during Q1.

If the race stewards do penalised the championship leader, then this will be a major set back for Hamilton.

Max Verstappen was third fastest, 0.436 seconds down, ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Both Mercedes drivers and Verstappen will start the race on medium-compound Pirellis having used those tyres to set their Q2 times, with the rest of the top ten using softs.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner explained the decision to use mediums, which he believes will be the best race strategy for his team.

“That soft won’t have the range and that puts a lot of stress on that last [stint] tyre,” said Horner.

“Ferrari generate their lap time differently, they go slower round the corners and faster down the straights, so they might feel confident that they can make that work because they don’t put as much heat into the tyres in the corners.”

Kevin Magnussen, who made Q3 despite locking up and running into the gravel at Turn 4 on his final Q2 lap, was fifth quickest – three hundredths faster than the McLaren of Lando Norris.

But the Haas driver has a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, so will lose his third-row starting slot.

Alfa Romeo duo Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were seventh and eighth, while Pierre Gasly was only ninth for Red Bull after failing to improve on his second Q3 run.

Vettel was unable to take to the track in Q3 thanks to what Ferrari called a problem with the air pressure line to the engine, meaning he ended up P10.

Romain Grosjean was P11 after lapping 0.024 seconds slower than Haas teammate Magnussen in Q2.

Grosjean set two lap times separated by just one thousandth of a second on his second run, but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Magnussen.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg failed to improve on his second run in Q2 and ended up P11 thanks to being in the queue of cars slower by Magnussen’s Turn 4 off.

Hulkenberg also has a five-place grid penalty.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon was P13, but has to serve a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking the ‘Spec 3’ Honda power unit and latest turbo charger.

Daniel Ricciardo only had one run in Q2 and ended up P14, ahead of the McLaren of Carlos Sainz.

Sainz did not set a serious time in Q2 as he also has a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to engine component changes caused by switching to the ‘spec B’ Renault power unit.

Sergio Perez was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 after jumping Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll at the end of Q1.

Perez lapped 0.043 seconds faster than Stroll, with the Racing Point driver briefly lifting himself out of the drop zone in the final minutes of Q1 before being shuffled back as others improved.

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was P18, half-a-second slower than Stroll, after traffic ruined what should have been his best lap.

Kvyat turned into Turn 9 and encountered George Russell – who was slow ahead of starting a lap and behind a queue of cars that included Albon – forcing him to run very wide as he passed.

The stewards will investigate the incident after the session, with Kvyat saying “I almost killed someone” over the radio after having to avoid the queue of cars.

George Russell was fastest of the two Williams drivers, three tenths ahead of teammate Robert Kubica, although both will move off the back row thanks to penalties for Albon and Sainz.

So grid penalties can affect the line up of the Austrian Grand Prix but for the quickest driver Charles Leclerc, this was an impressive result for the Scuderia Ferrari. Hopefully Leclerc can achieve that maiden victory come race day.

Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m03.003s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m03.262s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m03.439s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m03.537s
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m04.099s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m04.166s
7 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m04.179s
8 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m04.199s
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari –
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m04.072s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m04.490s
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m04.790s
13 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m04.789s
14 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m04.832s
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m05.324s
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m05.904s
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m04.516s
18 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m06.206s
19 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 1m04.665s
20 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m13.601s

7 thoughts to “Leclerc scores pole position at the Red Bull Ring”

  1. Austrian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Charles Leclerc gave Ferrari something to cheer about at the Red Bull Ring, with the Monegasque driver claiming his second career pole after a dominant qualifying display – although the Scuderia’s pleasure was kept in check by a mechanical issue that saw Sebastian Vettel fail to set a time in Q3.

    Leclerc lapped the Austrian circuit in an incredible 1m 03.003s to establish a new track record, ending up 0.259s clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who could yet face a penalty after being called to the stewards for an alleged block on Kimi Raikkonen in Q1.

    The Red Bull of Max Verstappen was third, the Dutchman lapping 0.436s off Leclerc’s pace to make it three different teams filling the first three places on the grid for the first time this season.

    Valtteri Bottas was fourth in the second Mercedes, while an impressive showing from Haas’ Kevin Magnussen saw him go P5 – although the Dane is set to take a five-place grid drop for a new gearbox fitted ahead of qualifying.

    Lando Norris enjoyed his third consecutive Q3 appearance and finished sixth for McLaren, ahead of the two Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi. Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, meanwhile, ended up P9, ahead in Q3 only of the non-time setting Vettel, whose misfortune was confirmed by Ferrari as being linked to an issue with an air pressure line to the engine.

    Q1 – Verstappen heads the segment and Stroll extends Q1 exit streak as Kvyat and Russell escape nasty accident

    With the sun beating down on the Red Bull Ring and the temperatures up at 28C, the cars headed out for Q1. Ferrari raised eyebrows when Leclerc and Vettel led the session early doors, setting some rapid lap times despite being shod on the medium tyres.

    They’d eventually finish P4 and P5, having contentedly parked their cars after their first flying efforts, while the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, and the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were all forced to run again, eventually ending up P1, P2 and P3 – Verstappen delighting the strong Dutch contingent in the crowd.

    Down at the other end of the timesheets, it was a disastrous session for Racing Point with both Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll dropping out in 16th and 17th, with Stroll extending his Q1 exit streak to a very unlucky 13.

    George Russell and Robert Kubica were, as expected, the slowest qualifiers, while Daniil Kvyat was 18th, the Russian encountering a horrible moment on his final push lap as he came around Turn 9 to find a very slow-moving George Russell on the apex. “I could have killed him,” screamed a shaken Kvyat to his Toro Rosso team.

    The net result was that he was out, however, with the stewards planning to look at the incident after the session – while they were also set to examine a near-miss between Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton up at Turn 3, which angered Raikkonen enough to make him flick Hamilton the bird!

    Respite for those five in the drop zone, however, was that they would move up the order when Carlos Sainz and Alexander Albon took up their back-of-the-grid positions after taking new power unit elements.

    Knocked out:

    Q2 – Hard times for Renault as Hulkenberg and Ricciardo fall out

    Tyre strategy was at the forefront of everyone’s minds as the second segment of qualifying began, with the question of who could – or would – try and get out of Q2 on medium tyres.

    Ferrari, quite simply, didn’t bother, nailing their colours to the mast by heading out for both of their Q2 runs on the softs, while Mercedes made it through on mediums, along with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, to establish an interesting strategic make-up for tomorrow’s race.

    More pressing, for the midfield runners at least, was who would make it through to the final segment of qualifying. Two drivers who wouldn’t were the Renault pairing of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo, ending P12 and P14 respectively (before Hulkenberg’s five-place grid drop for taking on Renault’s Spec B internal combustion engine) to continue the team’s tricky weekend.

    Joining them in the drop zone was the Haas of Romain Grosjean, who damaged a front wing on the exit of Turn 10 before ending P11, while Albon was 13th and Sainz 15th ahead of their grid drops.

    Good news, then for the likes of McLaren’s Lando Norris, the two Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen – although the Dane would take a five-place penalty for a new gearbox fitted ahead of the session.

    Knocked out:

    Q3 – Leclerc takes pole as mechanical issue rules out Vettel

    The lights went green for the final segment of qualifying and nine cars headed out on track – with the one, very notable exception being the #5 Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Television cameras had picked up an FIA and a Ferrari representative in heated conversation between Q2 and the start of Q3 – and as Vettel plopped his steering wheel onto the SF90’s chassis and climbed out, it became clear that the problem – later revealed to be an air pressure line to the engine – was terminal.

    That robbed Ferrari of a potential rear-gunner should Leclerc claim pole – but did Mercedes have something in hand to counter the Ferraris’ impressive Saturday pace up till now? The answer was, quite simply, no, with Leclerc heading the times after the first set of Q3 runs, only for the Monegasque to channel his love of the Red Bull Ring into an even better final effort to leave him over two and a half tenths clear of Hamilton and establish a new track record – while Hamilton had the Raikkonen investigation hanging over him to check any joy at being on the front row at the end of the session.

    Verstappen delighted his travelling fans by closing out third place on the grid, while Bottas would have been less happy to wind up over half a second off the leading pace at a track where he’s been on pole for the previous two years.

    Star of Q3 outside of the top three teams, however, was Kevin Magnussen, who narrowly led a similarly impressive Lando Norris, those two again just ahead of Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and, more surprisingly, Pierre Gasly in the second Red Bull – with Sebastian Vettel, obviously, failing to set a time.

    So Ferrari secure their second pole in three races – but with potentially big issues to sort out for Vettel overnight, the Scuderia would doubtless be keeping their excitement over besting Mercedes under control for the moment, while a fascinating contest between the two squads, and a Red Bull set to have decent race pace, lies in wait.

  2. Sebastian Vettel will start the Austrian Grand Prix ninth after an engine-related problem stopped him from setting a laptime in the final part of Formula 1 qualifying.

    Ferrari led the way through Saturday practice at the Red Bull Ring with Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc, and occupied the top two spots heading into the final phase of qualifying.

    However, as Q3 began, Ferrari mechanics began to work frantically on the left side of Vettel’s car.

    As his rivals took to the track, Vettel remained stuck in the garage – and then vacated his Ferrari with a few minutes left of the session.

    While he was left without setting a time, Leclerc went on to score his second pole of the season.

    Ferrari said immediately after qualifying that Vettel’s car had suffered “a problem with the air pressure line to the engine”.

    It is not yet known what changes this may trigger to solve the problem.

    Vettel will gain one place on the grid thanks to Kevin Magnussen’s five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. The Haas driver had qualified fifth-fastest.


  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is under investigation for Q1 incident involving Kimi Raikkonen. has the full story.

    World championship leader Lewis Hamilton is to face a stewards’ investigation over an alleged impeding of Kimi Raikkonen in Q1 for the Austrian Grand Prix.

    Raikkonen was on a hot-lap during the first session of qualifying when he closed up at high speed on the drag up to Turn 3. Hamilton appeared to have spotted Raikkonen very late and, being on the inside for the corner, he elected to get out of the Alfa Romeo’s way by running wide past the apex.

    But in running off track, the Mercedes driver crossed Raikkonen’s path and the Finn complained on team radio that he had been slowed.

    “Hamilton completely blocked me,” said Raikkonen to his pit wall, who also gave Hamilton a single-digit salute from the cockpit after the incident.

    The incident was noted by race control and the stewards have elected to investigate it after qualifying to work out if Hamilton did anything wrong. If he is found guilty, then Hamilton could be handed a grid penalty. He went on to qualify second to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

    George Russell is also under investigation for an incident towards the end of Q1 when Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat had to take avoiding action at the penultimate sequence of corners to avoid the slow Williams. The Russian was knocked out as a result.

    “Williams was the one to bring it up, always complaining they are blocked, and today they blocked me,” he said.

    “George said team did not tell him, but whatever penalty he will get it will not bring back my qualifying.”

  4. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen admits the car is stronger than expected. has the details.

    Max Verstappen says Red Bull’s performance at the Austrian Grand Prix has been a lot better than he expected, after revealing he had been dreading how his car would fare in qualifying before the weekend.

    With the long straights at the Red Bull Ring not ideal for Verstappen’s Honda engine, the Dutchman had been bracing himself for a pretty tough time in the battle against Mercedes and Ferrari.

    But despite a troubled practice day on Friday that was impacted by a high-speed crash at the final corner, Verstappen bounced back in style to grab third place on the grid behind Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

    He could also move up to the front row if Hamilton is given a penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen in Q1.

    Reflecting on his strong performance, Verstappen said: “I think just in general our whole weekend, the performance has been a lot better.

    “Before we came here, I was not really looking forward to qualifying because I knew it was going to be hard.

    “But actually with the new updates that we brought to the car, we gained a bit of performance. I was really happy with the car throughout the qualifying and in the corners again we looked really competitive

    “We do know that we are lacking quite a bit of pace to Ferrari and even to Mercedes on the straights, but knowing that this is not a good track for us, this is still a great result in qualifying.”

    Red Bull’s biggest update in Austria revolved around a new front wing, which Verstappen says has helped make a notable lift in performance in cornering.

    “The things we brought they just gave me more grip,” he explained. “I didn’t really have big problems before with oversteer or a lot of understeer, but just not enough overall grip. I think that seems to be improve again and that is really positive.”

  5. After scoring pole position at the Red Bull Ring, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says new set-up approach has made his car stronger. has the full story.

    Austrian Grand Prix poleman Charles Leclerc believes a different set-up philosophy has given him a “stronger front” on his Ferrari Formula 1 car than in previous races.

    Ferrari has been searching for more performance with its 2019 challenger, and is exploring new aerodynamic solutions that involve trading some of its straightline speed performance for greater downforce.

    Even though it must wait to bring upgrades that can achieve that, Leclerc was able to give Ferrari its third pole of the season by dominating qualifying for the Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring.

    Leclerc’s pole lap was underpinned by the fastest time in the middle sector, which comprises more corners, compared to the first sector which is the run to Turn 1 and then the long uphill climb to Turn 3.

    Asked by to explain that middle sector performance, Leclerc said: “I think our main issue in the last few grands prix was the front. We didn’t have enough front [end].

    “I think this weekend it was quite a bit better, we tried quite different set-ups and also set-up philosophy. It doesn’t mean a big step up for the other races but for here it worked pretty well.

    “I think the most time gained on the second sector is a stronger front compared to the last grands prix.”

    Leclerc outqualified Hamilton by 0.259s and set two laps good enough for pole position.

    He said his improvement in Q3 was down to a further set-up tweak that gave him more performance in the middle part of the lap. “We changed a little bit the car after the first run in Q3,” he said.

    “I knew it would be a bit of a compromise for the first sector but actually it wasn’t that bad and then I improved quite a lot in third sector which is nice to see.”

    Ferrari’s pace in final practice and the second part of qualifying suggested it could have locked out the front row with Sebastian Vettel.

    However, the four-time world champion failed to set a time in Q3 after an engine-related problem.

    Leclerc said: “I’m very happy for pole position but it’s just a shame for Seb as probably the two cars should be closer to first and second. I was informed he had some issues with [Vettel’s] car.

    “They didn’t feel concern on my side. I don’t know if they were, maybe they were behind the computers. But they weren’t showing it to me.”

    Despite trading off some straightline speed, Leclerc believes Ferrari has the pace to avenge his heartbreaking Bahrain GP – when he was on course for a first F1 win but suffered an engine issue late on.

    “The start is important, there is a long straight after it but normally we are quite good on the straights,” said Leclerc. “Hopefully we can keep the position in the first three corners, but the pace itself looks promising.”

  6. Williams Formula 1 team driver George Russell has landed a three-place grid penalty in Austria for an impeding incident that Daniil Kvyat believes could have had more serious consequences.

    The Russian came into the last two corners in Q1 to find Russell going slowly at the back of a queue of cars that also included Kvyat’s Toro Rosso teammate Alex Albon.

    Kvyat was able to jink the steering wheel to the left and get past safely, but his lap was ruined, and he didn’t progress to Q2.

    In their decision, the stewards noted that “car 63 [Russell] was not given the requisite warning by the team in a timely fashion about car 26 [Kvyat] approaching on a fast lap.

    “Furthermore, the situation was compounded by car 23 [Albon] overtaking car 63 during a slow lap, just before the incident in question.”

    Kvyat, who told the team at the time that he “almost killed someone,” was concerned by the safety implications of the incident.

    “What can I say?,” said Kvyat. “These things happen, I got blocked today, my qualifying was ruined. I was surprised to see the car right there on the line. I think we also have to be grateful that nothing worse than that happened.

    “I think if I would have committed to the corner already, it would have been hard to avoid. But luckily I saw something white entering the corner and then I had to do this [turn left]. It wasn’t pleasant from inside the car, that’s for sure.”

    Russell, who also received a penalty point, said he didn’t realise that Kvyat was approaching on a hot lap.

    “I didn’t know there were any cars coming up behind me,” he told Sky. “I was warming tyres up and there was a bunch of cars ahead, and the next thing I know Dany is sort of driving around the outside of the track. A bit frustrating really, just one of those things.

    “Usually quick cars on track are going about 40 seconds a lap quicker than you. You get the messages from the team.

    “I think the team off guard maybe, because everyone ahead was massively backing up, we would have expected to be across the line by that point already. I was focussing on the road ahead and didn’t realise anyone was behind me.”

    Kvyat said Russell had apologised when they met in race control,

    “He said, ‘Sorry, but look, the team didn’t say to me anything,’ when we were at stewards and its true. But I think in qualy you always should double check the mirrors yourself. But the speed difference was huge as well, so its hard for me to judge.

    “I think the thing is we have to be advised by the team, and we have to look at our mirrors as well. Especially in qualifying, when the penalty comes. Otherwise, I don’t have anything more to add to this episode.”


  7. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start from P4 on the grid following a penalty in which the Mercedes driver impeded Kimi Raikkonen during Q1. provides the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton will start the Austrian Grand Prix from fourth place on the grid, following a penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen during the first segment of qualifying that saw him demoted from his second-place grid slot.

    Having benefitted from the absence of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in Q3, Hamilton secured a front-row slot for Sunday’s race – although he was unable to get within two and a half tenths of a rampant Charles Leclerc, who secured the second pole of his career.

    But Hamilton already had the threat of an investigation hanging over his head, after he’d run off the track at Turn 3 during the first segment of qualifying in an attempt to get out of the way of the Alfa Romeo of Raikkonen, leading the Finn to angrily gesticulate at the five-time champion.

    Once the stewards had carried out their investigation post-session, Hamilton was duly handed a three-place grid drop and one-penalty point on his FIA Super Licence – though because of the way in which penalties are applied in sequence, he only drops from P2 to P4.

    “The Stewards reviewed video evidence and heard from the driver of car 7 (Kimi Raikkonen) and the driver of car 44 (Lewis Hamilton) and the team representatives and determined that car 44 unnecessarily impeded car 7 at turn 3,” read the stewards’ statement. “Car 44 had just come out of the pits and was informed of the cars approaching, including car 7.

    “Although car 44 tried to take evasive action when he became aware of car 7 approaching on a fast lap, it was not sufficient to avoid impeding car 7, which had to then abort the lap.”

    For his part, Hamilton admitted he was at fault. “Totally deserved the penalty today and have no problem accepting it,” he said on social media. “Was a mistake on my behalf and I take full responsibility for it. It wasn’t intentional. Anyway, tomorrow is another day and an opportunity to rise.”

    News of Hamilton’s penalty will be particularly welcome for his former team McLaren, meanwhile, with Lando Norris now promoted to fourth on the grid – his highest ever starting position in F1 – thanks to both the penalty for Hamilton and a five-place grid drop for Haas’ Kevin Magnussen for a change of gearbox.

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