Valtteri Bottas was in a spot of bother but still held onto pole while Sebastian Vettel was the big shock in qualifying in Austria, down in P11.
After last year’s woes in the Spielberg heat, Mercedes may have been a little wary leaving the pits for qualifying given that the track temperature was up to 54’C.
That, though, did absolutely nothing to dent the W11’s pace, giving credence to Lewis Hamilton’s claims that Mercedes had solved last year’s issues.
Mercedes took a comfortable 1-2 on the grid with Bottas ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Having secured a practice clean sweep in the build up to qualifying, Hamilton looked to be the man to beat at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday.
He however had to settle for third in Q1 as Verstappen went quickest ahead of Bottas while Lance Stroll in the pink Mercedes was fourth fastest.
Q2, the session that determines the tyres that the top ten will use in the opening stint of Sunday’s 71 lap race, saw Verstappen head out on a set of medium tyres.
Even though it was thought that Mercedes’ medium tyre runs in final practice were a sign it would try the same, both Hamilton and Bottas put on a set of soft tyres.
Hamilton laid down a blistering 1:03.325 to sit 0.2s up on Bottas while Verstappen was eighth with only the top ten going through to Q3. He tried for a second hot lap, moving up to sixth place.
Ferrari driver’s Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were eighth and P10 with two minutes remaining and only time for one hot lap each.
— Aaron Gillard 🏁🏳️🌈 (@AaronGillard_17) July 4, 2020
Vettel’s last lap did nothing to help him, the German down in 11th and out of qualifying, while Leclerc snuck through in tenth place.
“Are we safe?” Leclerc asks. “Yes. You are P10,” is the reply. “That’s crazy,” declares Leclerc.
Hamilton again missed out on P1, losing out to Bottas, while in Q2 it was the other Red Bull of Alex Albon who featured inside the top three.
It was Mercedes versus Red Bull heading into Q3 with Bottas firing the first shot with a track record of 1:02.939, 0.122s up on Hamilton and Verstappen half a second behind the Dutchman.
Out for a second run, McLaren caused a bit of chaos as both drivers left the garage only to stop at the end of the pit lane trying to decide who would get to leave first. Norris was the big loser, landing up behind a bunch of other cars as well.
Bottas made a mistake, running off into the gravel and cutting the grass on his way out. His charge was over but he was still in P1 with only Hamilton a potential threat.
The Brit couldn’t do it. Bottas took pole with his earlier 1:02.939 with Hamilton 0.012s off the pace.
— Grand Prix Diary (@GrandPrixDiary) July 4, 2020
Verstappen was third, half a second behind the Mercedes pairing, with Norris qualifying in fourth place.
Albon was P5 ahead of Sergio Perez, Leclerc, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo.
Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Ocon and Romain Grosjean make up positions 11 to 15.
Meanwhile Nicholas Latifi, who crashed in final practice, will start his Formula 1 debut from the final spot on the grid.
He dropped out in Q1 along with Kevin Magnussen, George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen.
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) July 4, 2020
Russell’s time meant he missed out on Q2 by 0.073s compared to the 1.394s that he was away from Q2 in the opening race of the 2019 season. Progress.
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:02.939
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.012s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.538s
4 Lando Norris McLaren 0.687s
5 Alex Albon Red Bull 0.929s
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point 0.929s
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.984s
8 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.032s
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1.090s
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.300s
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:04.206
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:04.305
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1:04.431
14 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:04.643
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:04.691
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:05.164
17 George Russell Williams 1:05.167
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1:05.175
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1:05.224
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:05.757