SPIELBERG, Austria – Lewis Hamilton overcame extremely soggy conditions to claim the pole for the Styrian Grand Prix Saturday at the Red Bull Ring.
Saturday’s qualifying session was delayed due to significant rain at the Austrian circuit, but eventually the session began with all teams on full wet tires throughout all three sessions.
Hamilton was impressive throughout, leading all three sessions to claim the pole for Mercedes. He ended Q3 in spectacular fashion by going 1.2 seconds faster than runner-up Max Verstappen.
The reigning Formula One champion lapped at 1:19.273 in the final session, well clear of Verstappen’s 1:20.489. Verstappen tried to put together a fast lap late in Q3 in an effort to best Hamilton, but spun coming out of the final corner to negate the lap.
“I’m grateful that we got to do qualifying – I love these days,” Hamilton said. “The weather was incredibly difficult and challenging out there for all of us. A lot of the time you can’t see where you are going. I had a big aquaplaning moment on my penultimate lap, so I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the final lap, nice and clean. After yesterday, the team did a great job looking into what was causing the problem and I felt confident going into today that it wouldn’t be an issue even if it had been dry. Pole position is where I want to be starting the race from so I’m glad it was a trouble-free session; I didn’t make any mistakes. That’s always a positive and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Third on the grid went to McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who bested Austrian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas, who settled for fourth. Renault’s Esteban Ocon was fifth quick.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, fresh off his first podium last weekend, qualified sixth but will drop three positions on the grid following a three-place grid penalty issued for an infraction on Friday.
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completed the top-10 in qualifying.
Of note, last week’s runner-up Charles Leclerc failed to advance out of Q2, settling for 11th. However, Leclerc was later hit with a three-place grid penalty for blocking during qualifying and will start 14th.
Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, both of whom were among the fastest in dry conditions Friday, struggled in the rain. Perez qualified 17th, with Stroll only doing marginally better in 12th.
The only major incident that took place during qualifying saw Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi back the rear of his car into the wall late in Q1.