Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring following a dramatic qualifying. The triple world champion goes into the race 4 points behind team mate and championship Nico Rosberg who had qualified in second place but was handed a five place grid penalty as the Mercedes team were forced to change the German’s gearbox.
Hamilton may have set a pole position lap of 01:07.922s however the star of qualifying was Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg who will start the race from the front row. The German who set a fastest time of 01:08.465s showed great pace and benefited from grid penalties handed to Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.
McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button also did a fantastic job for the Woking based outfit as the 2009 world champion secured the team’s best grid position since the start of their partnership with Honda as he starts the race from third place.
Following a number of difficult race weekend’s Kimi Raikkonen had a great qualifying session as the Iceman will start the Grand Prix from fourth place just ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. Following the session Ricciardo commented by saying:
It was quite fun coming into Q3 knowing that it was going to be wet and I like it when you have to adapt quite quickly. We got out on the intermediates and started with a pretty good pace and I was happy, but I knew it was going to dry by the end of the session and the slick tyres were going to be better. In hindsight I would have liked to have come in a bit earlier and at least had two laps on the slick tyre so that’s probably where we missed out in getting those extra few positions. I think I’ll start fifth now from some of the penalties, which is alright and we did well in Q2. We got through on the super softs so that hopefully pays dividends tomorrow and we can be closer to our rivals.
Championship leader Nico Rosberg starts the race from sixth place just ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver has complained about the new curbing at the Red Bull Ring and speaking after setting a qualifying time of 01:11.153s he commented by saying:
The conditions today meant we had to switch from dry to wet and then back to dry, which made it interesting. We were out too early and of course everyone goes faster at the end of the session. I passed the line with 50 seconds to go which meant everyone had time on a drier track. It’s difficult to say where we would have been. The pace was good, but we start too far back. We made a good call with the tyres in Q2 so we start on super softs tomorrow so we shall see how we go. I said about the kerbs causing problems yesterday and I think my point was proven again today. Daniil had quite a big crash due to them early on. Not many people agreed with me yesterday but I think they could find out for themselves.
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner commented by saying:
Variable conditions in Q3 made for a very exciting finish to today’s qualifying, but creates a situation where you are never certain of your final position, with hindsight it would have been better to allow for two laps on slick tyres. With that in mind, we don’t feel our positions on the grid for tomorrow’s grand prix reflect our real ability this year at the Red Bull Ring. We started on the intermediates but in the knowledge that we would need to change but not knowing when. In conclusion, after a positive Q2, we will hope to better capitalise on the expected changeable conditions tomorrow and both drivers are itching to put in a good performance in front of the Austrian crowd at our home race.
Following a grid penalty for a gearbox change Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start the race from ninth place while Williams Felipe Massa rounds out the top ten.
The Haas F1 Team’s Esteban Gutierrez was left disappointed as the Mexican just missed out on a place in the top and will start from 11th place and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
I’m pretty happy as I made my best qualifying run of the season. It was fun to get the maximum out there on track. It wasn’t easy coming from Friday, where we had very limited running. Going into final practice, I was not completely comfortable with how the tires were working, so it was quite a challenge to head directly into qualifying. In the end, it was pretty fun putting in some good laps in Q1 and Q2. Tomorrow, I’ll be aiming for points. This is our target and I’ll be fighting all the way.
Manor Racing’s Pascal Werhlein did a fantastic job for the outfit as the German will start the race from 12th place just ahead of the Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean which is a fantastic achievement to get the car into the second part of qualifying. Werhlein set a fastest time of 01:07.700s.
Romain Grosjean commented on his session by saying:
I had hoped for better. On my first run in Q2 on scrubbed tires, the rear end completely went into turn six and I went into the gravel. I damaged quite a bit of the floor. By the time we repaired it to go out, some of the rain had started, which impacted my fastest lap time. We could’ve done better. It’s a bit of a shame, but we’re not in a bad place for the race. I think we have a good balance for Sunday. We’ve been working well on that. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso starts the race from 14th place just ahead of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Force India’s Sergio Perez.
The Renault Sport F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen had a disappointing session as the Dane set the 17th fastest time with a 01:07.941s and will start the race just ahead Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. The Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson starts the race from 19th place just ahead of Jolyon Palmer in the second Renault.
Manor Racing’s Rio Haryanto and the Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr round out the grid.