Hamilton takes wet Styrian Grand Prix pole

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved pole position for Formula 1’s first Styrian Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen in a wet and wild qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring.

Carlos Sainz Jr will start in third position for McLaren, with last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas finishing fourth.

Despite fears heavy rain would lead to a washout on Saturday after the cancellation of FP3, qualifying got going 46 minutes later than scheduled as a break in the weather meant the action could take place on the extreme wet-weather tyres.

The fluctuations in the weathers’ intensity meant Q2 had the fastest times of the three segments, but still came down to the final runs in Q3 as the water cleared from a late-Q2 rain surge.

Hamilton held the top position ahead of the final runs but was under significant pressure from Verstappen, who saved two big snaps of oversteer at Turns 6 and 8 on his final flying lap but could not save a slide exiting the penultimate corner.

Although the Red Bull Racing driver managed to avoid a full 360 his chances of pole were dashed and Hamilton in any case improved his best Q3 time to a one minute, 19.273 seconds to end up 1.216 seconds clear.

Sainz popped into third to take his best Formula 1 career starting position, with Bottas taking fourth despite setting his best Q3 time right at the end.

Esteban Ocon took fifth for Renault ahead of Lando Norris, who will drop three grid spots for his FP1 penalty for overtaking under yellow flags.

Alex Albon was seventh for Red Bull ahead of the sister team’s of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, with Daniel Ricciardo ninth.

Sebastian Vettel rounded out the Q3 runners in another disappointing qualifying showing for Ferrari.

Behind the top ten, Charles Leclerc became the second Ferrari driver in a week to be knocked out in Q2 as he could not improve on his final laps in the middle segment.

Leclerc had indicated he wanted to stay out on his initial Q2 wets when it came to putting a fresh set on for the final runs, but when he did come in the rain intensified and few drivers managed to improve their times late on.

Leclerc was told to push all through his final runs, but his final lap was 1.3 seconds down on his Q2 best and he will start P11 – as Vettel did a week ago.

George Russell will start in an impressive P12 – his best ever qualifying position – and in doing so, got Williams into Q2.

Russell then posted a strong early Q2 effort, which helped him hold onto his high grid spot as the rain that harmed Leclerc also frustrated Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen.

Stroll did look like he might be able to improve on his final run, but after a strong start his last lap got slower as it went on and then running wide at the exit of Turn 9 cost him and he will line up P13.

When Q1 did get underway, Vettel headed the queue to get out of the pitlane when the delayed session finally started and it was an ever-changing order as the drivers explored the soaking track.

Hamilton ended up quickest in the first segment, which was ended early after Antonio Giovinazzi spun as he ran across the kerbs at the exit of penultimate corner, spearing off into the barriers at the final turn.

He was able to drive clear by dropped debris on the pit straight and eventually stopped on the approach to Turn 4 – where Hamilton and Albon clashed in the closing stages of last weekend’s Austrian GP – which meant the red flags were shown.

That meant few drivers were able to improve on fresh wets, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez heading those knocked out in Q1 – with the latter the most high-profile exit after finishing Friday with the day’s third fastest time.

Unlike Russell, Nicholas Latifi, who skated across the Turn 6 gravel mid-way through Q1, was unable to improve on his new wets as the red flags came out as he approached the final corners and he will start P18 as a result, ahead of Giovinazzi.

Romain Grosjean did not set a time in Q1 after going off at Turn 4 on his out-lap – just in front of Vettel’s opening lap in the segment – and he did reappear after returning to the pits after that incident.

So congratulations Lewis Hamilton with this fine pole position for Mercedes. A pure masterclass in the tricky wet conditions. Going to be an exciting race at the Red Bull Ring.

Qualifying positions, Styrian Grand Prix

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.273
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:20.489
3 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:20.671
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:20.701
5 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:20.922
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:21.011
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:21.028
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:21.192
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:20.925
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:21.651
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.628
12 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:19.636
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:19.645
14 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:19.717
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:20.211
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:21.372
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:21.607
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:21.759 2.486
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:21.831
20 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari

4 thoughts to “Hamilton takes wet Styrian Grand Prix pole”

  1. Stryian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    It’s on days like this, when rain creates tricky driving conditions, that the great drivers come to the fore – and as if we needed further reminding, Lewis Hamilton showed us why he is arguably the greatest driver in Formula 1 history with a scintillating lap at the Red Bull Ring to beat the heir to his throne Max Verstappen to pole by a staggering 1.2s for the Styrian Grand Prix.

    Wet weather raised doubts as to whether qualifying would happen at all on Saturday, with final free practice cancelled because of the treacherous conditions, but there was a window of opportunity when the rain eased to the point where the Race Director Michael Masi deemed it safe to get the session under way.

    With the track remaining wet throughout, full wet Pirelli tyres were the compound of choice, and the drivers opted to fill up with a little more fuel than usual so they could complete a flurry of laps in quick succession. But there were two drivers who looked the most comfortable out there – Hamilton and Verstappen.

    The two main protagonists traded fastest laps as the session unfolded, the kind of battle for pole position that Formula 1 craves, with Hamilton holding the early upper hand.

    Verstappen repeatedly complained about the poor visibility on team radio, but it didn’t seem to slow him down, the Dutchman setting the fastest first sector on his final lap to raise hopes he could topple Hamilton.

    But he was really fighting the car as he came through the middle sector, catching it three times as the rear snapped, but he could do nothing about his rear stepping out as he negotiated the penultimate corner, pirouetting round and ending any hopes of topping Hamilton.

    Mercedes would have almost certainly told Hamilton what had happened to Verstappen, but he cared not. He was in the zone, lighting up the timing sheets and keeping his foot to the floor to obliterate his previous best and take pole by an extraordinary 1.2s.

    There were plenty of standout performances elsewhere, Carlos Sainz – a driver who usually excels in wet conditions – hooking up a tasty lap to seal third, his best-ever qualifying position, with last weekend’s race winner Valtteri Bottas fourth, in what his worst qualifying session on this track since joining Mercedes.

    Esteban Ocon’s start to life at Renault continued to be rosy, as he finished a brilliant fifth – Renault’s best start since Monza last year, while Lando Norris, who was feeling better after suffering chest pains on Friday, qualified sixth. That’ll become ninth following a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags.

    Alex Albon was seventh, with Pierre Gasly eighth – in what was his fourth Q3 appearance in the last six races, with Daniel Ricciardo ninth and Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top 10 in one of the most thrilling qualifying sessions in recent times.

    Q1 – Russell stars in wet conditions as Giovinazzi crashes

    For much of the morning, it was unclear whether we would get any running, so persistent was the rain, but the conditions eased sufficiently to allow the drivers to head out on full wets and get qualifying under way, albeit 46 minutes later than expected.

    Vettel was the first out, having sat at the end of the pit lane for around four minutes at the head of the queue, waiting for the light to go green. Teams fuelled their cars heavy so the drivers could complete a series of laps, gaining confidence each time.

    Romain Grosjean skated off track, before retreating to the pits, the team reporting they had a suspected water pump issue, while Alex Albon had a little spin up at Turn 3.

    As conditions improved, the times tumbled, with Hamilton setting the pace. At the other end, Sergio Perez, who impressed on Friday, looked uncomfortable with the car and failed to make the cut-off.

    Kimi Raikkonen also missed the cut, along with Alfa Romeo team mate Antonio Giovinazzi, who lost control when he ran wide onto the paint, and tapped the barrier rear first, bringing out the red flags. Latifi was forced to back off and therefore got knocked out, with Grosjean failing to get back out on track.

    It meant Russell made it through to Q2 for the first time in his career, with Williams having their first Q2 appearance since the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.

    Q2 – Leclerc misses the cut, as Hamilton and Verstappen impress

    The rain eased further ahead of Q2, but with the track so wet, the full wet tyre was required as the drivers headed back out for another spin.

    While Hamilton and Verstappen were impressive, separated by a mere tenth of a second at the front end of the field, it wasn’t so smooth for Ferrari as Vettel and Leclerc fought to scrape into Q3.

    Vettel just made it in 10th, but Leclerc wasn’t so lucky, the Monegasque – who finished second in Austria last weekend – the first to miss the cut, a fraction ahead of Russell – who was just a tenth shy of making Q3 for the first time in his career.

    Lance Stroll couldn’t replicate the pace he showed in the dry, and ended up 13th, ahead of Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen. As the cars pulled in, the rain intensified, setting up some treacherous conditions for the final segment of qualifying.

    Q3 – Rain intensifies to create tense final shoot-out for pole

    Usually, drivers focus on just two runs in Q3 – but with the rain lashing it down, the approach this time around was to stay out on track and clock up the laps in the hope of getting some banker times in should the weather get even worse.

    Hamilton and Verstappen traded fastest laps, while Ocon, Norris and Sainz showed their prowess in the wet by popping in some quality times to challenge the top five positions.

    But the main focus was on Hamilton and Verstappen, the duo enduring a segment-long battle for pole position, with the Mercedes driver coming out on top to take his first pole in Austria since 2016 – which incidentally is when he last took victory at the venue.

  2. Lewis Hamilton says the wet conditions during his charge to pole for the Styrian Grand Prix reminded him of his much-lauded Formula 1 victory at Silverstone in 2008.

    Hamilton charged to the 89th pole position of his F1 career in heavy rain on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring, with conditions forcing the session to initially be delayed by 45 minutes.

    Hamilton produced two laps good enough for pole position, but his final improvement took him over 1.2 seconds clear of the rest of the field.

    Speaking after qualifying in Austria, Hamilton explained that the feeling of being at one with the Mercedes W11 car in the wet reminded him of his experience at Silverstone in 2008, when he won the British Grand Prix by over a minute in heavy rain.

    “It was a fantastic lap, the last one,” Hamilton said. “I think [it was] just the importance of managing your time out there, managing your battery pack, knowing when to use the few laps that you have on the qualifying modes, creating the gap, [and] not making a mistake when it counts.

    “That last lap for me was really as close to perfect as I could really get in those conditions. Considering it was raining more, it makes me even happier knowing that we could go a bit quicker during that time.

    “It definitely takes me back to times like Silverstone 2008, because when you’re really at one with the car and not fazed at all, and just being very dynamic with your driving style from corner to corner.

    “The wet patches arrive, and the puddles are shifting about with the cars that are driving ahead of you, which is a massive challenge.”

    The wet conditions caused a number of drivers to have big off-track moments, including Max Verstappen, whose final bid to deny Hamilton pole ended in a spin at the final corner.

    “It was the worst conditions that we could probably get these cars around in,” Hamilton said.

    “It was an incredible challenge. I’m grateful that we got to do qualifying, as we missed the morning session. It’s a real challenge I think for everyone.

    “Visibility was very, very minimal, and just making sure you got the gap and putting the laps together when it counted was really the key.

    “But the team did a great job in terms of the position and the information I was getting. I felt pretty much at home today in the rain.”

    Asked by Motorsport.com about the decision to go ahead with the session given the conditions, Hamilton praised the FIA race officials for going ahead.

    “The officials definitely have a difficult job the majority of the time, particularly on a day like this knowing when to go and when not to let the cars run,” Hamilton said.

    “I’m grateful they did. Just as we came to qualifying, it was drying up or wasn’t raining for a while, and just as everyone got in the car it started to rain again. We obviously had that pause, but once we got going, it was fine for the first session, then it did get worse.

    “It was definitely on the limit, but that’s racing. I’m glad they didn’t take that away from us, because today, it’s so special being out there, it’s so difficult.

    “I don’t know how it comes across on the cameras, but it is the hardest conditions that we ever drive in.

    “Just one small lapse of concentration and you’re off, it can be big or small, more chance of it being a big one.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  3. Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap “not from this world” according to Mercedes team boos Toto Wolff. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Toto Wolff heaped praise on Lewis Hamilton following his pole position lap in the wet on Saturday for the Styrian Grand Prix, calling his performance “not from this world”.

    Hamilton charged to the 89th pole position of his Formula 1 career in heavy rain at the Red Bull Ring, producing two laps good enough to beat the rest of the field.

    The final pole time of 1m19.273s saw Hamilton finish 1.2 seconds clear of Max Verstappen in second place.

    Hamilton said his qualifying reminded him of his famed victory at the 2008 British Grand Prix, when he won by over a minute in heavy rain.

    Asked about Hamilton’s performance, Wolff was full of praise for his driver, saying the lap was “on the edge”.

    “Very rarely do you see performances that are just not from this world,” Wolff said.

    “When you look at the onboard of his lap, he was balancing the car on the edge, aquaplaning, throttle control was incredible.

    “I can’t remember that I have seen 1.2 seconds between first and second.

    “I think driver and car merge into one, where a perfect car with the tyres in the right window, and perfect driveability on the power unit come together with skill and intelligence of the racing driver.

    “Only then do you see this kind of performance.”

    Hamilton was heard interacting regularly on the radio with race engineer Pete Bonnington throughout qualifying, receiving updates on conditions as he tried to time his laps perfectly.

    Wolff said the close communication was important for Mercedes, especially in difficult conditions such as those in qualifying.

    “[In] these conditions where you really need to be sharp to advise the drivers where the gaps are, how the weather develops, [with] drivers feeding back what he sees on the track,” Wolff said.

    “The intercom protocol needs to be very precise. Obviously it’s of great help if engineer and driver have been working together for a long time and trust each other.

    “I’m really proud and impressed how it happened today because it was about finding the right spot on the track, analysing the weather, deciding when to put the engine into recharging mode, or when to deploy the party mode, which doesn’t last for long.

    “That was perfectly synchronised today.”

  4. Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc has received a three-place grid penalty for the Styrian GP for impeding AlphaTauri driver Daniil Kvyat in qualifying.

    The Monegasque driver had a frustrating session and qualified only 11th, and he thus tumbles down to 14th.

    He was also still subject to a separate investigation regarding crossing a control line when the red flag was out, but no further action was taken.

    The stewards said: “The red flag came at the moment the driver of Car 16 was approaching the entry of Turn 9 and the driver was fully committed to the turn. The driver braked hard, did not accelerate after turn 9 and considered entering the pit lane by crossing the white line at pit entry, but felt it would have been unsafe do so.

    “The driver reacted appropriately, continued on track and drove the lap afterwards at safe speeds. Taking this into account, Stewards determine to take no further action.”

    Kimi Raikkonen was also subject to a red flag investigation, and was excused on similar grounds, with the stewards noting that the Finn “made an attempt to safely enter the pit lane, but was unable to reasonably do so.”

    Racing Point driver Sergio Perez escaped sanction for an alleged yellow flag infringement, with the stewards deciding that he had done as much as he could to slow down.

    They noted: “The Driver of Car 11 had already reached the braking zone before turn 3 and was fully committed to the corner at the moment a single yellow flag was shown shortly before the apex of turn 3. In addition to that, a green light panel was flashing right after the apex.

    “Taking into account these facts, the Stewards determine that the driver of Car 11 had no chance to do anything more to slow down more than he did and therefore take no further action.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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