Mixed fortunes for Ferrari, Vettel all out of luck

Mark Scott

Charles Leclerc grabbed pole for Ferrari in Spielberg, but it was a disastrous, unfortunate qualifying for team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Here is how qualifying day unfolded in Austria…

Prior to FP3, Renault confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg has become the third driver to pick up a grid penalty at the Red Bull Ring, joining Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon.

With Albon already resigned to the back of the grid, Honda fitted another Spec-3 engine in as many days for ‘tactical purposes’. Cheeky.

One of the biggest challenges awaiting the drivers was not to become a victim of those mean, unforgiving kerbs that caused so much damage on Friday.

In the early stages of FP3, Pierre Gasly reported low Honda power on his install lap and was forced back into the garage for a good 20 minutes.

At the halfway point of FP3, Leclerc was setting the standard out in front.

Leclerc would remain firmly on top throughout the rest of FP3, becoming the first driver to drop into the 1:03 bracket with aย 1:03.987.

Surely we’re not in for an exciting pole position battle?

But, before we got onto qualifying, news of another grid penalty…

Q1 offered us a rare sight – Mercedes not going fast enough on their first run and needing to come out again.

Kubica, Russell, Kvyat, Stroll and Perez were the drivers to drop out after Q1, while Verstappen topped the timings ahead of the Mercedes pair.

The stewards announced after qualifying that Russell would receive a three-place grid drop for impeding Kvyat’s flying lap, while Hamilton met the same fate after he tried to move over for Raikkonen.

Leclerc topped Q2 with team-Vettel in P2. Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen all made it through on the medium compound to secure that tyre for the start on Sunday.

Sainz, Ricciardo, Albon, Hulkenberg and Grosjean were the casualties of Q2.

Things weren’t going as smoothly down at Ferrari as it first seemed…

It was terrible news for the German. The first time in his Ferrari days that he had been outqualified by his team-mate in Austria, and it was totally out of his control.

A silver lining for Ferrari as Leclerc grabbed pole, the first time a Ferrari driver has been on pole at this circuit since Michael Schumacher in 2003.

Roll on race day!

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