Valtteri Bottas edged team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just under two hundredths of a second to take his second consecutive Austrian Grand Prix pole position and the fifth pole of his career in a tight qualifying session at the at the Red Bull Ring. Sebastian Vettel was third for Ferrari ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen.
Q1 saw Mercedes quickly to the fore with Hamilton and Bottas trading times on ultrasoft tyres before Hamilton settled into P1 with a time of 1:04.080, just under a tenth of a second ahead of his team-mate. Kimi Räikkönen was third ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on supersoft tyres. Vettel also opened his session with runs on supersoft tyres to sit in fifth place ahead of the final runs with a time of 1:04.347.
In the final runs Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull opted to remains in their garages, which allowed Haas’ Romain Grosjean to jump ahead of Verstappen and Vettel, and that left the action to focus on the drop zone where Williams’ Lance Stroll made a last-minute escape, vaulting from P17 to P15 with a lap of 1:05.264. That put him 0.007s ahead of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian dropped to 16th and out of the session ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez, Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
In the second session Mercedes’ drivers went out on supersoft tyres and Bottas became the first man to dip below the 1m04s mark with a lap of 1:03.756 that put him into P1.
He was soon quickly usurped by Hamilton, however, with the championship leader taking P1 with a time of 1:03.577.
This time Ferrari opted to run on ultrasoft tyres and Vettel took P3 ahead of Räikkönen. Verstappen was fifth, also on supersofts, but it was a trickier opening run for team-mate Ricciard. He was only 11th after his first flier and second run on the red-banded Pirellis. A second lap boosted him to P9 but with just over three tenths of a second separating him from P11 man Nico Hulkenberg the Australian would need to run again.
He opted for another go on the spersoft tyres and this time he found time, posting a lap of 1:04.403 that was good enough for P8 over four tenths clear of Force India’s Esteban Ocon who was eliminated in P11 ahead of Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Stroll.
Leclerc also faces a five-place grid drop for tomorrow’s race following a post-FP3 gearbox change.
At the top of the order Hamilton was displaced in the final runs by Vettel, who set a time of 1:03.544 on ultrasoft tyres. Second-placed Hamilton was followed by Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen. Haas’s good form continued with Romain Grosjean and Kevein Magnussen sixth and seventh ahead of Ricciardo and the Renaults of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg.
In the first runs of Q3 Valtteri claimed provisional pole with a time of 1:03.264 as mistakes from both Hamilton and Vettel compromised their laps. Behind him Hamilton sat second ahead of Räikkönen with hard-charging Romain Grosjean slotting into an impressive fourth for Haas as Vettel languished in seventh behind the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
In the final runs it looked like Hamilton and Vettel would put heavy pressure on Bottas as they both began their runs well, but the Finn was untouchable and he found just enough time to set a time of 1:03.130 to take a second consecutive Austrian Grand Prix pole position 0.019s clear of Hamilton and three tenths up on Vettel.
Räikkönen qualified in fourth place, while Verstappen’s final lap was good enough to push Grosjean to sixth, with Ricciardo seventh. Kevin Magnussen was eighth on a good afternoon for Haas, with the Renault’s of Sainz and Hulkenberg in ninth and tenth respectively.
Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:03.130
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:03.149 0.019
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:03.464 0.334
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:03.660 0.530
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:03.840 0.710
6 Romain Grosjean Haas Racing 1:03.892 0.762
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:03.996 0.866
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:04.051 0.921
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:04.725 1.595
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:05.019 1.889
11 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:04.845 1.715
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:04.874 1.744
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:04.979 1.849
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:05.058 1.928
15 Lance Stroll Williams 1:05.286 2.156
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:05.271 2.141
17 Sergio Perez Force India 1:05.279 2.149
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:05.322 2.192
19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:05.366 2.236
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:05.479 2.349