Round 8 of 23 at the Red Bull Ring was a very close call. During the final minutes of FP3 in the morning, Hamilton was able to nail his lap to grab the lead, with his rival Verstappen hampered by traffic on his first flying run. However, this afternoon the Dutchman managed to gain the third pole position of the season with an impressive 1:03.841lap.
Valtteri Bottas crossed the line in the second position, however, because of a grid penalty earned for spinning in the pit lane during yesterday’s FP2, he will start fifth. Bottas’ three-place drop promotes Lewis Hamilton to the first row, and Norris and Perez to share the second row.
The final practice session was a disaster for McLaren, with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris ending up 17th and 19th. Their qualifying was different though. Norris was flying and managed to squeeze his MCL35M in the fourth position.
On the other hand, his Australian teammate was excluded in Q2 and will start from P14.
AlphaTauri were quick all weekend so far and, despite Pierre Gasly being forced to miss FP2 due to a power unit issue, he finished qualifying in P6. Yuki Tsunoda also had a very strong session, getting to his second Q3 – after achieving it in Baku too. The rookie will start behind Charles Leclerc in P8.
What a struggle for the Ferrari pair today. Carlos Sainz couldn’t improve his lap time and due to a track limit infringement, he will start P12.
Aston Martins never arrived at Q3 with both cars this year. Unfortunately, today wasn’t the day either, Lance Stroll managed to get through and will start tenth tomorrow while Sebastian Vettel, who had his track time deleted for track limit infringement, couldn’t get into Q3 and will start P14.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi seemed to have a great pace, pulling out a brilliant lap that temporarily put in among the top-10 drivers and, for the first time, ahead of his teammate on a Saturday. However, before the end of Q1, Russell managed to pull a last gasp lap out of the bag. Latifi was the first of the eliminated drivers: he’ll start from P16 tomorrow.
As per George Russell, he equalled his best ever qualifying, coming across the line in P11 and missing out by just 0.008s.
Alpine looked very strong on Friday, with the French driver Esteban Ocon concluding FP3 in third place. Yet, just like in France last week, they couldn't quite replicate that speed in qualifying. Ocon couldn’t make it to Q2, finishing 17th on the grid. His teammate and two-times World Champion Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, will start from the ninth place.
Towards the end of Q1, Kimi Raikkonen had a moment at Turn 4, running wide through the gravel. He couldn’t escape the elimination zone and will start 18th tomorrow, just ahead of the two Haas drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, 19th and 20th respectively.
Despite forecasts of thunderstorms for both yesterday and today, the weather over the Red Bull Ring was warm, sunny and dry for qualifying, with track temperatures skyrocketed to over 50 degrees Celsius. We will see if tomorrow’s weather forecasts will bring some rain over the track.