An Epic Styrian Grand Prix Qualifier

Lewis Hamilton beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to pole position for the

Styrian Grand Prix by a mammoth 1.2 seconds in what was a phenomenal

qualifying session in the wet Austrian mountains.


Rain often provides entertainment and today was no different. Qualifying

was delayed due to the poor conditions, but when it eventually got underway,

viewers were treated to an incredible display of cars slipping around in untested

conditions, lap times falling rapidly, plenty of different drivers topping the

timesheets from one second to the next and, of course, incredible bravery and skill

from the drivers.


First Session


The first session got underway when there was a break in the weather,

but the track remained wet throughout, so Pirelli’s wet tyre compounds were the

tyres of choice.


Romain Grosjean failed to set a lap time due to an issue with his

Haas, so will start at the back of the grid. Conditions improved throughout the

session, so lap times started tumbling.


Hamilton, Verstappen, Russell, Norris,

Ocon and more all topped the timesheets at one stage of the session, but at the

end of it, Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo and thumped the barriers with

the rear of the car and stopped shortly afterwards on track. This brought out a red

flag, which stopped the session.


It was bittersweet for Williams, as Nicholas Latifi had the pace to get into

the second session but had to abort his lap due to Giovinazzi’s crash, but team

mate George Russell got Williams into the second part of qualifying for the first

time since Brazil 2018. Great work to the Williams team, who will be hoping for an

exciting race tomorrow for the chance to score their first points since the German

GP in 2019.


Second Session


The second session got underway, again on the wet tyres, and it soon

became apparent that the team who were really struggling to even make it into the

top 10 were Ferrari.


Sebastian Vettel just managed to scrape through in 10th

place, but teammate Charles LeClerc, who finished second here in the race last

week could only manage 11th and was justifiably unhappy with the cars lack of

performance.


It has been a tricky start to the season for the Scuderia, and they

can only hope that the upgrades they are bringing for next week’s race in Hungary

will offer them a boost.


George Russell achieved his best qualifying result to date

and put his Williams in 12th on the grid, ahead of Lance Stroll in the Racing Point,

Daniil Kvyat in the Alpha Tauri and Kevin Magnussen in the Haas. On another

a positive note for Russell and Williams, they were just a tenth of a second shy of

making it through into Q3 and the top 10 shootout.


The rain intensified again for Q3, and all the drivers could do was head

out in the treacherous conditions to try and set as many laps as possible should

the conditions worsen.


It’s in the rain that the best drivers make themselves known, and today proved just that. Hamilton and Verstappen consistently traded

fastest laps, but Lewis Hamilton had the fastest lap when it mattered, putting in an

incredible lap to beat Verstappen by over a second. That’s basically a year in

Formula One time!


Carlos Sainz put in a fantastic lap to line up 3rd in his McLaren, ahead of

Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes and Esteban Ocon in the Renault, who

enjoyed a great session to qualify 5th. Lando Norris qualified 6th for McLaren but

has a 3 place grid penalty to carry over into tomorrow’s race, so will start 9th.

McLaren will be feeling good heading into Sunday, as Norris finished 3rd in the

race last week. It’s becoming apparent the McLaren is a quick car and the team

will hope to close the gap to the leaders in their bid to become a race-winning

outfit once again.


Red Bull’s Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri, Daniel Ricciardo

in the second Renault and Sebastian Vettel in the underperforming Ferrari make

up the top 10.



Tomorrows conditions


The Styrian Grand Prix (although the hashtag remains #AustrianGP to a

lot of people, so I’m not really sure what hashtag to use) gets underway tomorrow,

with conditions largely different from today.


The rain will depart and leave us with warm and sunny weather, so we could be in for a fascinating race with different tyres and strategies providing entertainment. The added factor of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton sharing the front row is mouthwatering as well, as both drivers are hard racers and won’t want to back down.


If last weeks race is anything to go by, we are in for another exciting and

unpredictable race and I absolutely cannot wait to sit down and watch it unfold!


Max Verstappen can never be counted out, with the young Dutchman finding pace

in places, no one else seems to be able to, but with reigning World Champion

Lewis Hamilton in front of him, we could be in for a titanic battle between the pair.


Hopefully, Red Bull manages to last the distance this time!


Can Lewis take his first win in Austria since 2016? Can Ferrari deliver a

good result after a shocking qualifying? Will Williams be able to score their first

points of the season? We will have to wait and see, but I have my fingers crossed

that we will see plenty of battles on track, maybe an unexpected result or two and

another memorable race!


If you’re going to be watching, I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to reporting on it tomorrow!


Steve Thomson

F1 Fan


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