Max Verstappen secured pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix around the Red Bull Ring. Though Bottas and Hamilton followed up in second and third, the difficulties they had to get there reveal Red Bull's advantage.
Qualifying for the first of two subsequent race weekends at the Red Bull Ring was started by Schumacher and Mazepin, followed by Latifi and then Raikkonen, Russell and Giovinazzi. When they were on their flying laps, others started to emerge on track.
As Giovinazzi topped the times, both AlphaTauris were going faster faster. Leclerc followed up with an improvement, then Norris until Verstappen took the top of the timesheet with little more than 10 minutes left in the session.
Lewis Hamilton surprisingly didn't manage to do better than 3th after topping this morning's FP3. Hamilton dropped down to fourth when Bottas went second fastest, 0.048s off of Verstappen.
Alonso slotted into 8th while Raikkonen made a trip through the gravel in Turn 4 a few minutes before many returned to the track once again to try to avoid getting eliminated in Q3.
Sainz, Vettel, Ricciardo and Raikkonen were all in danger after poor early laps and eliminated laptimes for track limits. Raikkonenn failed to improve and was therefore out, along with Latifi, both Haas drivers and a disappointed Esteban Ocon. Daniel Ricciardo meanwhile only just made it, beating Latifi by 0.033s, but 0.6s off of his team mate's best effort.
In Q2, Bottas and Giovinazzi are the first drivers out on track, both opting for the medium compound tyres with the yellow markings.
By the time Bottas completed his first lap, Hamilton and Verstappen also went out on the mediums while Perez went with the softer red tyres. Verstappen then set the fastest time while Hamilton had a very slow middle sector and ended up 0.84s off of Verstappen. Perez slotted into second place just before the track got very busy.
All others opted for the softest tyre compound, soon pushing Bottas down to 9th, even though he was still just 0.29s slower than Verstappen in second. The fastest man before the final few laps was Pierre Gasly as he edged out Verstappen by a mere 0.004s.
In a quiet moment 5 minutes before the end of the session, Bottas set another flying lap on mediums and went third fastest, 0.014s slower than Gasly. Hamilton also returned to the track a few moments later with new mediums, resulting in a marginal improvement compared to his previous time.
With margins so small, some drivers were on and over the limit on their final laps, resulting in laptime removals for Sainz and Stroll. The latter though still made it through in 10th thanks to a 0.008s , but out were Russell, Sainz, Ricciardo, Vettel and Giovinazzi.
Perez and Norris still topped Gasly at the very end with another improvement on softs, surely boosting their confidence for Q3. Alonso was also quite pleased, soon reporting "beaauuutiful, so enjoyable!" when crossing the line in 8th to secure a spot in Q3.
Q3 saw Hamilton take the track immediately, completing his lap and return to the pits before anybody else even started a flying lap. Hamilton in fact opted for three flying laps in Q3 with everybody else doing just two.
No matter the strategy, Verstappen seemed unbeatable, with both his flying laps good enough for pole position. Valtteri Bottas ended up second and will be able to start from 5th after applying his 3-place grid penalty for yesterday's pitlane spin. Lewis Hamilton will start alongside Verstappen on the first row instead, followed by Norris and Perez.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:04.489||1:04.433||1:03.841||19|
|4||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes||1:04.584||1:04.298||1:04.120||17|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:04.638||1:04.197||1:04.168||21|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:04.765||1:04.429||1:04.236||18|
|8||22||Yuki Tsunoda*||AlphaTauri Honda||1:04.608||1:04.631||1:04.514||21|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:04.971||1:04.582||1:04.574||18|
|10||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:04.821||1:04.663||1:04.708||18|
|11||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:05.033||1:04.671||-||14|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes||1:05.142||1:04.808||-||14|
|14||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:05.051||1:04.875||-||15|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:05.092||1:04.913||-||17|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:05.175||-||-||9|
|17||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:05.217||-||-||6|
|18||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:05.429||-||-||8|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:06.041||-||-||8|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:06.192||-||-||9|
Note - Tsunoda penalised three grid places for impeding during qualifying