2020 Styrian Grand Prix – Qualifying: It’s Raining, it’s pouring

Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position of the 2020 season in difficult conditions as torrential rain looked to threaten the possibility of Formula One qualifying session.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, lost the chance for pole position as he lost control of his car in Q3 due to the wet conditions.

George Russel, Williams Racing, finally got out of Q1 for the first time in his Formula One career.

The qualifying session finally got underway after a 46-minute wait, due to heavy rain falling over the Austrian Red Bull Ring which cancelled FP3 earlier on in the day.

Q1

It was 46-minutes before Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel led the pack out of the pits, on full wet tyres, after they were given a 10-minute warning to the start of Q1. This warning was given when the safety car – driven by Bernd Maylander, was able to complete a lap after leaving the pit lane.

However, Haas driver, Romain Grosjean, ended up into the gravel at turn four after running out of road under braking. Luckily, the Frenchman was able to remain out of Vettel, who was on his first flying lap of the session.

George Russell, Williams Racing, topped the timing boards in the wet conditions. This provided the young British driver with the opportunity to get out of Q1 for the first time in his F1 career. However, he fell back down the track until the last five minutes when he was able to find pace and get himself into Q2.

The red flag brought the session to an abrupt halt with 13 seconds to go after Alfa Romeo’s, Antonio Giovinazzi, parked his car in a dangerous position at the entry of turn four. This retirement may have been a result from the Italians last flying lap when he spun off the track onto the grass and he collided the rear of his Alfa with the barriers.

Eliminations:

16. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

17. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)

18. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

19. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

20. Romain Grosjean (Haas)

Q2

As the track seemed to have better conditions as the cars aided the drying track. All of the drivers completed continuous flying laps as the bottom five tried to get a position into Q3. However, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had set the fastest lap with five minutes to go as he set a lap of 1:17.938.

Despite the better conditions, as the session came closer to the it’s end, Verstappen reported to the Red Bull pit wall that the rain had gotten worse.

The result of this bad weather most likely didn’t help with the Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, who was knocked out of Q2 in P11 behind his teammate Vettel who made it into Q3.

Eliminations:

11. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

12. George Russell (Williams)

13. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)

14. Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri)

15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

Q3

Verstappen was the first driver out onto the Austrian track as he aimed to secure pole position for his team’s home grand prix. However, he suffered tyre issues as his car struggled to gain grip on the wet track to avoid aquaplaning on the back straight as he sped around on his flying lap.

Both Mercedes drivers fought for provisional pole as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas leap-frogged each other with both drivers beating their times.

However, Verstappen had the chance of pole taken from underneath him, when he lost control of his car in the wet conditions, as he slid across the track beside the pit lane entrance. This allowed Hamilton to take pole with a lap time of 1:19.273.

McLaren put in a great performance as Carlos Sainz was able to secure the second row (P3) with a time of 1:20.671, as he beat the Finnish Mercedes driver by 0.030 seconds.

Top 10

  1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  3. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
  4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
  5. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
  6. Lando Norris (McLaren – Will start in P9 due to three-place grid penalty)
  7. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
  8. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
  9. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
  10. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

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