The drivers are ready to rumble tomorrow in Austria, following a fiery and contentious qualifying session. Valtteri Bottas scored his second consecutive pole position at Spielberg, ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.019s, allowing Mercedes to secure a front row lockout. Sebastian Vettel had grabbed the third spot on the grid but has been handed a 3-place penalty for impeding Sainz on his flying lap, hence the German is starting 6th tomorrow.
“It feels really good to get my first pole position of the season. It’s a tricky circuit; there are only seven real corners on this track, but you can get them wrong very easily and lose a lot of time. For me it helped a lot that my first lap in Q3 was really good, so I could build on that in my second run. The car felt really well-balanced today, so I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t feel that way tomorrow”.
As Bottas is trying to get over the tough time he has been through lately, Vettel’s penalty comes in aid to his potential triumph, as he would face one less problem at the start.
Lewis Hamilton relies on the latest changes brought to the track for any overtaking opportunities. “You can’t really follow here, so there usually isn’t a lot of overtaking but we will see if the three DRS zones will make a difference. Ferrari will start on the UltraSoft tyres, whereas Red Bull and us will start on the SuperSoft so that will be interesting.”
Red Bull’s intra-team dynamics strike again, as Daniel Ricciardo looked to violate the team’s usual policy to alternate the driver who is heading out first. This time around the Australian had to give Verstappen a tow, but as he felt he had a slight disadvantage on this track, he asked Red Bull to break the chain. The team and Verstappen refused, which let to some casual post-qualifying drama.
Ricciardo denounced his unfair treatment and slammed the team: “I’m not too impressed. I was just trying to punch a hole. I’m not happy. We could have been more fair.”, but Horner and Verstappen provided a genuine clarification over the matter. Later on, a calmer Ricciardo admitted he should have raised his qualifying worry sooner, in order to avoid any heated quarrels.
Romain Grosjean was the author of an impressive P6, splitting the two Red Bulls. The Frenchman is yet to score a point this season, being 27 points behind his teammate Magnussen. His only target is to take advantage of tomorrow’s starting position, which is going to be P5 thanks to Vettel’s retrocession.
“It was a really good qualifying. I’m very happy we could get into Q3 using only on set on tyres in Q2. It meant we could have more fun and play around in Q3. I was hoping we’d stay in P4. I was thinking ‘Come on, that can stay there’. The truth is that other teams are faster, but I’m very proud to be in between the two Red Bulls, and I’m happy that Kevin is P8”.