Valtteri Bottas will start the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix from pole position, shading teammate Lewis Hamilton to the tune of just twelve-thousandths of a second.
The Finn edged out the Briton, who had been fastest in all three free practice sessions, despite a wild spin on his final flying lap. Hamilton’s final lap was disrupted by the yellow flags waved for Bottas’ car – which ran wide at Turn 4 through the gravel – but the reigning World Champion couldn’t quite improve enough to claim pole position.
Bottas was still struggling to rejoin the circuit at the time his team announced he had clinched pole position, marking a slightly comical end to an action-packed three-part session.
The FIA Stewards announced that they would investigate whether Hamilton had failed to slow for the yellow flags, however, an investigation later ruled that Hamilton had been shown both a yellow flag and a green light as he exited the right-hander. He was therefore allowed to keep his grid position.
Defending Austrian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen claimed third on the grid in his Red Bull Racing Honda, and will crucially start the race on the Medium Pirelli tyres having used the harder compound in Q2. This will allow him to run an alternate strategy for Sunday’s race – the rest of the top-ten qualifiers all ran Soft tyres in Q2 and must start the race on the same rubber.
McLaren’s Lando Norris claimed a career-best fourth place on the grid ahead of the second Red Bull Honda of his good friend Alexander Albon.
Racing Point’s practice pace didn’t translate into qualifying, with Sergio Pérez managing sixth-fastest (albeit with an identical lap time to Albon) and teammate Lance Stroll was ninth-quickest – it marked the first time that the Canadian had made a Q3 session since last year’s Italian Grand Prix.
Ferrari’s poor speed, meanwhile, saw their struggles continue into qualifying. Outgoing driver Sebastian Vettel failed to make the Q3 cut after a scruffy lap and will start from P11, while teammate Charles Leclerc only just scraped into the final session and wound up seventh-fastest ahead of his future teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in the second McLaren.
A frustrated Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top-ten in his Renault, while the Australian’s teammate Esteban Ocon was a rather unconvincing P14 behind the two AlfaTauri Hondas of Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat.
The lack of pace among the Ferrari-powered runners was felt with their customer teams, suggesting that the V6 turbo-hybrid unit has a power deficit to its rivals. The Haas Ferraris of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were fifteenth and sixteenth respectively, with the latter the fastest of the Q1 drivers who failed to make the Q2 cut.
The Alfa Romeos fared worse, with Antonio Giovinazzi (P18) and Kimi Räikkönen (P19) sandwiched by the Williams Mercedes’ of George Russell and series newcomer Nicholas Latifi.
|FORMULA 1 ROLEX GROβER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2020 – QUALIFYING|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||1:02.939|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||1:02.951||+ 0.012|
|3.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB16||1:03.477||+ 0.538|
|4.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:03.626||+ 0.687|
|5.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB16||1:03.868||+ 0.929|
|6.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:03.868||+ 0.929|
|7.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:03.923||+ 0.984|
|8.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:03.971||+ 1.032|
|9.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:04.029||+ 1.090|
|10.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:04.239||+ 1.300|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:04.206||+ 1.191|
|12.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||1:04.305||+ 1.290|
|13.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||1:04.431||+ 1.416|
|14.||Esteban Ocon||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:04.643||+ 1.628|
|15.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:04.691||+ 1.676|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**|
|16.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:05.164||+ 1.140|
|17.||George Russell||Williams Racing FW43||1:05.167||+ 1.143|
|18.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:05.175||+ 1.151|
|19.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:05.224||+ 1.200|
|20.||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing FW43||1:05.757||+ 1.733|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q2 lap time of 1:03.015 set by Valtteri Bottas
** Denotes gap to fastest Q1 lap time of 1:04.024 set by Max Verstappen
- To be advised.
Image via Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team