Valtteri Bottas scored an advantage on his Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton by claiming pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix despite taking a trip into the gravel on his final Q3 run.
Max Verstappen claimed third place for Red Bull and will start on a different tyres to the Mercedes drivers, with Lando Norris an incredible fourth for McLaren as Racing Point’s pace was only good enough for sixth place for Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s performance faltered further than expected.
Bottas broke the track record at the Red Bull Ring with a lap time of one minute, 02.939 seconds on his first run in Q3, with Hamilton unable to get under 63-seconds on his own first effort in the final qualifying segment as he lost time in the second and third sectors.
On their final flying lap, Bottas improved his time in the first sector but then slid into the gravel at the exit of Turn 4 – later spinning on the grass as he returned to the track – while Hamilton looked to be improving.
The world champion did better his time to a one minute, 02.951 seconds but wound up second on the grid for the race having topped all three practice sessions.
Verstappen took third but will start the race on the mediums after getting through Q2 on the yellow-compound, with Norris rising to fourth with a fantastic final effort in his MCL35.
Alex Albon qualified fifth for Red Bull ahead of the much-fancied RP20 of Perez, who nevertheless beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to P6.
Leclerc was the remaining Ferrari runner in Q3 after Sebastian Vettel did not make it past Q2, but last year’s polesitter ended up nearly a second slower than Bottas’ time.
Carlos Sainz took P8, with Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo rounding out the top ten.
In Q2, which Bottas topped fractionally ahead of Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel was dramatically knocked out when Albon leapt up the order with a late improvement in the second segment.
Vettel had been at risk as he was only tenth after the first Q2 runs, and on his final effort he bounced over the kerbs at the first and final corners, sliding wide on each occasion and not improving as a result, with Leclerc only just getting into Q3 with P10 at the end of Q2.
Behind Vettel came Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri, with his teammate Daniil Kvyat in P13, ahead of Esteban Ocon – making his first Formula 1 qualifying appearance since the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – and Romain Grosjean.
In Q1, which was topped by Verstappen while Albon had a nervous wait as he was not sent out again for a final run in the opening segment, last-gasp improvements from the Haas drivers cost Williams a Q2 slot.
Grosjean squeaked through ahead of his teammate Kevin Magnussen, while Russell, who was P15 before the final Q1 runs, did not improve on his last effort – possibly losing out thanks to a snap of oversteer exiting the downhill right of Turn 4 – and will start P17.
Antonio Giovinazzi ended up P18 after he skated into the Turn 4 gravel trap on his final run, with Kimi Raikkonen behind in P19, ahead of Williams rookie Nicholas Latifi, who took to the track immediately in Q1 to make up for the time lost in his FP2 crash.
So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas with pole position, heading a Mercedes front row. Going to be a fascinating race at the Red Bull Ring.
Qualifying positions for the Austrian Grand Prix:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:02.939
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:02.951
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:03.477
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:03.626
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:03.868
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:03.868
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:03.923
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:03.971
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:04.029
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:04.239
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:04.206
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1’04.305
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1’04.431
14 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:04.643
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:04.691
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:05.164
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:05.167
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:05.175
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:05.224
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:05.757