Leclerc Takes Pole in Austria as Hamilton Receives Grid Penalty


Charles Leclerc scored his second career pole position beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by more than two tenths of a second to claim top spot in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix. However, the Ferrari driver will be joined on the front row by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after race officials handed Hamilton a three-place grid penalty for impeding Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen in Q1.

Ferrari led the way in the opening stages of the first session, with both Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel using medium tyres. Leclerc topped the order in the early exchanges, setting a time of 1:04.138. Verstappen, on soft tyres, then split the red cars with a lap of 1:04.339.

After a quiet opening, Mercedes were forced into final runs for bioth Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas and both eventually jumped to P2 and P3 respectively. Verstappen too, optedf for a final outing in the segment and the Dutch driver rose to P1 with a time of 1:03.807, 0.011 ahead of Hamilton and two tenths clear of Bottas. Behind them, Leclerc and Vettel stayed with their medium times to progress in P4 and P5 respectively.

At the bottom of the order Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll were eliminated in P16 and P17 ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, though the stewards also reported that after the session they would investigate whether the Russian driver had been impeded by 19th-placed Williams driver George Russell who was joined on the Q2 sidelines by team-mate Robert Kubica.

During the opening segment Hamilton exited the pits ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen. Hamilton tried to take evasive action in Turn 3 to avoid tangling with the Finn, but he ended up goping off circuit in front of the Alfa Romeo driver. The matter was investigated by the race stewards and Hamilton was a handed a three-place grid drop. He will now start in P4 following the applicaitons of penalties to other drivers.

“The Stewards reviewed video evidence and heard from the driver of car 7 (Kimi Raikkonen) and the driver of car 44 (Lewis Hamilton) and the team representatives and determined that car 44 unnecessarily impeded car 7 at turn 3. Car 44 had just come out of the pits and was informed of the cars approaching, including car 7,” read the stewards’ decision. “Although car 44 tried to take evasive action when he became aware of car 7 approaching on a fast lap, it was not sufficient to avoid impeding car 7, which had to then abort the lap.”

In the second session, Verstappen was first on track, and with medium tyres on board the Dutchman powered to good lap of 1:03.835. The benchmark was swiftly passed by Leclerc and Vettel, with the Monegasque driver in P1, though both set their times on soft tyres.

Hamilton, also on mediums, then crossed the line to edge verstappen out to P4 by three hundredths of a second. Valtteri Bottas took fifth place behind the Red Bull, and the Finn was the only other driver to progress to Q3 on mediums.

Pierre Gasly made it into Q3 on a time of 1:03.988 set on soft tyres and the Frenchman took sixth place ahead of Räikkönen, the second Alfa or Antonio Giovinazzi, McLaren’s Lando Norris and 10th-placed Kevin Magnussen of Haas.

Eliminated at this stage were the second Haas of Romain Grosjean, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz.

And there was no moving Leclerc from top spot in the final session. The Ferrari driver set a commanding pace in the first runs to take P1 three tenths of a second clear of Bottas, with Verstappen in P3. And despite improvements from Hamilton and Max, Leclerc found more pace again in the final runs to take his second career pole position with a time of 1:03.003, 0.259 ahead of Hamilton and four tenths ahead of Verstappen.

Bottas was left with fourth place, while Kevin Magnussen was an impressive fifth for Haas ahead of Norris and the Alfa Romeo of Räikkönen and Giovinazzi. Magnussen, though, will drop back due to a grid penalty.

Gasly was unable to improve on his first run time of 1:04.199 and was forced to settle for ninth place. Tenth place went to Vettel, who failed to get out in Q3 due to a mechanical issue.

2019 FIA Formula One Austrian Grand Prix – Qualifying 
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:03.003
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:03.262
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:03.439
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:03.537
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:04.072
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1:04.099
7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1:04.166
8 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1:04.179
9 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 1:04.199
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:04.490
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:04.516
13 Alex Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:04.665
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:04.790
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 1:13.601
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1:04.789
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:04.832
18 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:05.324
19 George Russell Williams 1:05.904
20 Robert Kubica Williams 1:06.206

Following the application of penalties, a revised grid for the Austrian Grand Prix will see Lewis Hamilton starts from fourth position.

The Mercedes drivers qualified in second place, behind pole position winner Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, but was later handed a three-place grid penalty by race officials for impeding Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen during Q1.

That decision would in normal circumstances have resulted in Hamilton starting from P5 on the grid. However, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who qualified fifth yesterday, was also facing a five-place grid penalty due to an unscheduled gearbox change.

With penalties applied in the order in which the rule breach is committed, Magnussen’s penalty is applied before Hamilton’s. He thus drops from P5 to P10. This opens a gap in P5 and Hamilton drops back into the empty space. With a gap now appearing in P2, the grid is then closed up and Hamilton rises to P4 in the starting order ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

At the back of the field two drivers, Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon are required to start form the back of the grid having incurred penalties of 15 places or greater. Under regulations brought in for this season in cases where multiple driver incur such penalties they are arranged at the back of the grid in qualifying order. Thus, Albon, who qualified in P13 starts in P19, ahead of Sainz who qualified in 15thplace.

Williams’ George Russell starts in P18 after receiving a three-place penalty for also impeding Räikkönen in Q1, and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg starts in P15 after taking a five-place penalty due to a gearbox change.

A revised provisional starting grid for the 2019 FIA Formula One Austrian Grand Prix can be found HERE

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