Leclerc beats Hamilton for pole as Vettel’s Ferrari breaks

Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc put his #16 Ferrari on pole for the Austrian Grand Prix with a new record lap of 1m03.003s at the Red Bull Ring.

Lewis Hamilton will start 2nd barring any penalty from the Stewards for blocking Kimi Raikkonen in Q1.

Max Verstappen will start 3rd for Red Bull ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen.

Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari was 2nd quick in Q2 but an engine pneumatic issue emerged on his #5 car, forcing the German to miss the final stage of qualifying. He will start the race from P9 on the grid, spoiling an almost certain all-Ferrari front row.

Kevin Magnussen finished in fifth place for Haas, but will drop to P10 on the grid due to a grid penalty.

Lando Norris took sixth for McLaren ahead of Alfa Romeo drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, while Pierre Gasly finished a disappointing ninth for Red Bull after failing to improve on his second Q3 run.


Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Hamilton 2nd on this day
Hamilton 2nd on this day, later demoted

Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:03.262): "Congratulations to Charles, he's been quick all weekend and we've just not really been able to keep up with the Ferraris so far this weekend. They've got the power advantage on the straights, but also seem to have figured out the medium and high-speed corners. For us, the car has been feeling good, but we can't do much more on the straights and that's something we'll continue to work towards. Obviously, there was the incident with Kimi in Q1. I got off the brakes to try and get out of the way, because I didn't want to meet in the corner. I don't think we did, but it probably did put him off. I wasn't aware the car was coming, so it wasn't the easiest. Positioning was difficult out there, I was always at the front so was never getting the slipstream. Luckily, I got an OK position for that last lap, but it was tight at the end. Still, I'm happy with the position and it's cool to see three different teams in the first three positions. I'm excited to get out there tomorrow and race with these guys, fingers crossed we can put on a good show tomorrow."

Valtteri Bottas (4th, 1:03.537): "Today was sub-optimal, I would say. It's a shame because the car felt good and the speed was there, it just didn't end up that way. There was a bit of a communication issue, I got told there was no time and got stuck behind the car ahead of me, so I was way too close to improve. But, it turned out I had some margin, so I could've used that. We expected it to be super close with Ferrari, but they have a bit of a margin. Pole position was out of reach today, they are just too quick on the straights. But, it's a long day tomorrow and starting from the second row still leaves opportunities. We've seen on the first lap that many things can happen, with drafting on the straights, so I'll be giving it my all."

Toto Wolff, Team Principal: "We could see from the first runs in Q1 that we were a little bit on the back foot today – and we had to battle our way through every part of Qualifying this afternoon. We knew before the weekend that this would be a tough circuit for us, because its characteristics don't match our strengths at the moment, and P2 and P4 is a pretty realistic result for us in that context. In the final part of the session, we saw some jostling to get the tow but we needed that today because we're lacking the speed on the straights right now, and that was our best chance to improve the situation. Regarding the incident with Lewis and Kimi in Q1, we will have to wait and see what the Stewards say. We know we start tomorrow's race on what should be a more durable tire, and hopefully we can run longer than Charles and open up some opportunities with our race strategy."

Andrew Shovlin: "It wasn't plain sailing this afternoon. It was clear quite early on that we were lacking some speed and with the track ramp in the first session we had to run a second time to protect our position. We'd wanted to start the race on the Medium tires as we felt it would handle the hot conditions a bit better tomorrow and gives you a bit of flexibility on how long you have to make that final stint. We knew we'd lose a bit of time to Ferrari on the straights today, but the performance advantage that we normally enjoy in the corners seemed to evaporate and we were never looking like contenders for pole. There's bits here and there that we can tidy up as our Qualifying sessions are normally smoother than this one, but I'm not sure it would have changed the look of the grid dramatically. At least it looks like we'll get an exciting race tomorrow; it's going to be a tough battle at the front and from Friday long runs, it looks like us, Ferrari and Red Bull are all quite evenly matched. We need to be quick enough to put them under pressure, but if we can do that then we've got every opportunity to win."

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

Leclerc charges to pole
Leclerc charges to pole

Charles Leclerc (1st, 1:03.003): "I am happy with qualifying today. It is satisfying to see that the work we did in preparation, especially in terms of the way we set up the car for Q3, has paid off so quickly. A great result for me, unfortunately not for the whole team with Seb having a problem in Q3. Hopefully, we will have a good race tomorrow. I am happy about our tire choice with the soft compound. It will be the key to have a good start and keep competitors behind, especially at the beginning of the lap. Our race pace was quite strong this weekend so I am confident that we can do a good job."

Sebastian Vettel (10th, No Time): "It's obviously bitterly disappointing on a day like this, when you have the car to fight for pole and you are not even taking part. There was a problem with the car so we lost a part of Q2 and all of Q3. We fairly quickly made a decision but we had to take the bodywork off and it was not easy to get to the faulty bit. The guys did everything they could but we could not fix it in time. I knew that if we'd fixed it, most likely I would have had only one run, so I was trying to focus only on that but it didn't happen. As much as this is a pain, it's good to see that Charles came through and got pole. I am happy for the team, obviously nor happy for my side. I think our car is quick this weekend, quicker than the people in front of us so I am looking forward to a good day and a good race tomorrow."

Vettel cannot believe his luck
Vettel cannot believe his luck

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: "We are very pleased with Charles' performance, which continues to get better all the time. All in all, a Ferrari has been on pole twice in the last three races and this is a glass half full scenario which I'm pleased to see. Today's result is down to the way Charles has evolved and to the work of everyone in the team. Of course, we are disappointed for Sebastian who could have had a great qualifying, but because of a trivial mechanical problem he could not leave the garage. Probably, because of riding over a curb, a mechanical connection came apart resulting in a loss of pneumatic pressure to the engine. The mechanics tried their best to fix the problem but unfortunately, the connector is very inaccessible. However, we have no concerns about this for the race. When Seb realized his session was over, he thanked his crew and spoke a few words of encouragement to Charles, who in turn, after taking pole had a few words of consolation for his team-mate. As for the decision to start the race on Soft tires, we believe it's the right one. Yesterday, we found they were very consistent and we are convinced that will also be the case tomorrow and could give us a performance advantage."

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen (3rd, 1:03.439): "I'm really happy about qualifying. All weekend the car has felt competitive and also from the engine side we have worked really well with Honda to extract a little more power. To be third is great and I was smiling in the car when I finished the lap. We definitely got the most out of it today and through the corners we were really quick. To be closer to the pole time is also a great step forwards. As soon as I stopped the car and turned the engine off I could hear the crowd. There are so many Dutch and Austrian Red Bull fans here which gives me a lot of positive energy and motivation. I haven't done a long run but normally we are a little stronger in the race than qualifying. There is a long way to go before we fight for victory but this is a really good start for the Team and we will give it everything we have tomorrow."

Pierre Gasly (9th, 1:04.199): "It's a shame and I'm disappointed with myself not to put my lap together when it really mattered. I didn't do the job properly in Q3 and this is something I need to focus on. We had good pace and overall I think we made a step. We had a really good free practice and we managed to build everything up from there. There are a lot of positives to take from Q1 and Q2 where we were strong. Everything was looking good for Q3, my first lap wasn't ideal but on my second and final run, I made a mistake into Turn One and by Turn Three I had lost three or four tenths, otherwise I think we could have been P5. Now I need to move on and focus on tomorrow. We can recover, nothing is done, and we'll try everything to come back in the race. I think we have a strong car and now we need to look at what we can do with the strategy."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "That was a great lap by Max at the end of Q3. He was quickest in Q1 and had been quick throughout qualifying. We elected to use the medium tire for the start of qualifying and then took the soft in Q3 resulting in third on the grid, which is a great place to be starting our home race from. Pierre comfortably made it through to Q3 but then made a mistake on what turned out to be the most important lap. He lost around three or four tenths in Turn One and then unfortunately, with it being such a short lap here, he was unable to recover the time. He'll be starting in P9 so we're looking to make progress from there."

Renault Sport Formula One Team

Nico Hulkenberg (12th, 1:04.516): "It's fair to say we've been struggling all weekend with the car. We've tried everything to find the right set-up. We did make a good step today. We didn't have a clear second lap in Q2 and that certainly hindered our chances. I think we had more left in the car, maybe enough to see us through to Q3. Tomorrow is going to be very hot, it won't be easy from near the back but we'll give it a go."

Daniel Ricciardo (14th, 1:04.790): "Austria has been one of our more challenging weekends, and we struggled all day today. It just wasn't happening for us and we couldn't find the pace. It's a shame as we had a nice run of Q3 appearances in recent races. We'll gain some positions with grid penalties tomorrow, but before then we need to find out what went wrong today."

Alan Permane, Sporting Director: "Spielberg is a tough track for us, and it's been a difficult day. We've struggled all weekend with the car in the high-speed corners. We did make improvements from yesterday, but we were not quick enough today. Looking ahead to tomorrow, our high fuel pace on Friday was better than our low fuel runs. Typically, at the moment, we race better than we qualify. It's certainly not over and we'll do all we can to get both cars into the points."

Rich Energy Haas F1 Team

Kevin Magnussen (5th, 1:04.072): "When it's working, it's working. I don't know where that lap came from. It was there, and I took it. Today the guys have just worked so hard between FP3 and qualifying to get the gearbox changed. It wasn't only my side of the garage, the other side came to help on my car too, to help get it ready. We have a few guys out injured this weekend as well, but everybody just pulled it together. After a few bad races, and a couple of bad qualifying's, it's nice to do this. We're starting in the points, in the top ten, even with the penalty. If you'd asked us before qualifying if we'd have believed that, it would have been no way. I'm very happy."

Romain Grosjean (11th, 1:04.490): "I'm happy with qualifying. I was hoping to go into Q3, but I didn't get a tow on my lap which cost a little bit. I had a lot of understeer in turn three, I lost a couple of tenths there, but I was fast everywhere else. It's a bit annoying, but these tires are hard to understand, and I haven't got the feeling yet in qualifying for them as I do in the race. I think we've made a good step forward though this weekend. Eleventh is not a bad place to start. I can choose my tires to start the race. Let's see what happens tomorrow."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "It was a difficult morning for us. In FP3 we had to change the gearbox on Kevin's (Magnussen) car, so obviously he didn't do the whole session because of that. Romain (Grosjean) did the session but it wasn't fantastic, we did some tests. In qualifying it almost all came together. Kevin did a fantastic lap, and Romain was just a few thousandths shy. It shows that it's up and down. There is no real trace to it, in terms of what is up, and what is down – otherwise we'd follow the up trace. We just have to keep learning from all of this and try to make it happen every weekend. Anyway, Kevin did a fantastic job today with his last lap – it was magic."

McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris (6th, 1:04.099): "It was a good quali. We knew it was going to be a tough and it turned out to be closer than at Paul Ricard. But we can all be pleased with starting P5 for the second race in a row – a great job by the team here and back at Woking. It's a good starting position. I'll try to have a race like we had last week at Ricard. The key will be to consolidate my start position and stay out of trouble, and see where we end up. The high ambient and track temperatures are likely to have a big impact on the results."

Carlos Sainz (15th, 1:13.601): "It's been a difficult Saturday for me. Not being able to compete out there today is very disappointing. Preparing the set-up for the race and not even using the performance engine modes made my qualifying very frustrating. However, we knew it was going to be like that, and the target was to get into Q2 and help out Lando with a tow for Q3. Congrats to him and to the whole team for a strong performance. Tomorrow is another day and I'm sure I'll wake up fully motivated for the race. We'll try to recover from the back and work our way up the field."

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "Another excellent performance from Lando, who starts P5 again as in France last week. Congratulations to the entire team and both drivers who executed two clean sessions in challenging hot conditions today. The team and the drivers kept working on improving the car overnight, we continued our good run in FP3 and ran solidly in the top 10 again – Carlos' work in free practice contributing to our very good quali performance. We didn't attempt any quali runs in Q2 for Carlos in order to save the car, and, at the same time, to be sure not to make it through to Q3, which wouldn't have allowed us free tire choice for the race start tomorrow. As always, our heads are down now and we're remaining focused, as points get distributed tomorrow. We'll prepare for a long race in hot conditions which is likely to feature many incidents. So I guess we can look forward to an exciting race."

Racing Point F1 Team

Sergio Perez (16th, 1:04.789): "We were very unlucky with traffic today. I didn't get a clean lap and it needed to be perfect here to get through. A few hundredths would have been enough – but unfortunately we didn't make it. I came up behind a Toro Rosso into Turn 3, so I lost a bit of time there. Then there was a lot of traffic at the end of the lap and I got too close to a Williams going into the final two corners. Between those two, we lost the few hundredths we needed. It's disappointing, because we've made some progress with the car at this circuit and we should have a stronger starting position. I think we have the potential to score points, so I hope we can achieve that tomorrow."

Lance Stroll (17th, 1:04.832): "Q2 wasn't far away today. We just need to find a few tenths and it will make a big difference, but that's the reality of our current situation. I feel more positive about tomorrow because race pace has been one of our strengths this year and we looked more competitive during the long runs in practice. It's going to be a very hot race and tire management will be especially important. Let's see what we can do with the strategy options to try and bring home some points."

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "A tough qualifying session at a track where the margins are always very tight. We expect to benefit from some grid penalties for our competitors, which should see both cars move up several positions. The long run simulations on Friday suggest we can match the strong race pace we showed recently and target points with both cars. It's Sundays that count in terms of scoring points and there's plenty to play for tomorrow."

Alfa Romeo Racing

Kimi Raikkonen (7th, 1:04.166): "We can be pretty happy about today's result. The speed has been there all weekend and we got what we wanted in qualifying. Everyone is very close here and if you get things right you can be high up: I feel we could have perhaps been ahead of Norris as the gaps were so small but in the end we'll take this. Tomorrow is when it matters and we will try to do the best job we can. We still have things to improve but we are starting from a good position. We need to be careful and do a good job on the first lap and we'll see where we end up."

Antonio Giovinazzi (8th, 1:04.179): "I am really pleased with today's performance, both mine and of the team as a whole. Our car has made a step forward since France, I feel I am getting more and more confident every time I step in the car and I am happy with the work we are doing together with the team. Having two cars in the top ten gives us a good chance to score points, but we still need to work out the best strategy for the race. Our long run pace is good and I think we can play our part in tomorrow's battle: we'll be giving it all we have to bring home a good result."

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "Having both cars in Q3 was our target for today and we can be satisfied about reaching it. On such a short track the gaps were minimal and Kimi and Antonio were able to drive good, clean laps to claim our highest qualifying positions of the year so far. We will need to come up with a good strategy that allows both drivers to make the best of their starting positions: it's going to be a challenging race but we are confident we can score a good result."

Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda

Alexander Albon (13th, 1:04.665): "I'm reasonably happy with today, I think that's the best we could have done if we consider my penalty and I think we did a good job. It's true we have to start from the back of the grid, but I've done quite a few long runs this weekend and the pace looks good, so a points finish is always the target. Overtaking here is a bit easier than on other tracks so we will see what we can do. I feel my Qualifying is getting better in the past few races. I started off pretty strong, had a bit of a dip in the middle and I'm getting the rhythm again now."

Daniil Kvyat (18th, 1:05.324): "Unfortunately, our Qualifying was ruined today because we were blocked in the second last corner which cost us a lot of time. I can't say much more than it is very frustrating. The feeling with the car was good throughout the session and I was on a good lap time which would have put me through to Q2. It's a shame not to be able to show what the car was able to do today due to these things which are out of my control. We will do our best to recover but it will be a difficult race. I think today we could have been in Q3, or at least close to it, so starting from where we are tomorrow on the grid is not ideal, but we will do our best."

Jody Egginton, Technical Director: "After a challenging Friday, where we struggled to get on top of a couple of persistent balance issues, the guys have worked hard to make improvements for Saturday. As a result, we have been more competitive in FP3, with the drivers being happier with the car balance heading into qualifying. However, Qualifying itself did not go as expected, with Dany not making the cut for Q2 after encountering traffic towards the end of the lap on his second run, forcing him to abandon to avoid a potential incident. Although it is probable he would have made the cut without traffic, the situation is that he has qualified out of position, making tomorrow's race a more difficult challenge. Alex had a smoother Qualifying, but with his PU penalties the strategy was different, so we did not run a normal program in Q2 to provide more freedom for the race. Overall, we are not satisfied with today as a team, as we have not taken the maximum from Qualifying. However, we will be fully focused on the race to try and recover."

Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: "Once again it was very hot for qualifying. Kvyat was very unlucky to meet so many slow cars in front of him at Turn 9 in Q1 which eliminated him and for Albon, qualifying well was not a priority as he has to start from the back. However, we expect them to race well and move up the order. It could be even hotter for the race, which will be tough on the drivers and cars and we are hoping for a strong showing here at Red Bull's home track."

ROKiT Williams Racing

George Russell (19th, 1:05.904): "It felt like a fairly decent lap. We maximized the car, it's just unfortunate it's still a bit of a way from where we want to be, but we know our pace at the moment and we just need to make the most of it. During my final run I was warming my tires up and there was a bunch of cars ahead doing the same. Daniil was on a flying lap and he closed quicker than expected due to the queue ahead. I tried to stay to the inside but the next thing I knew, he was driving around the outside of the track. It is a bit frustrating but just one of those things unfortunately. I apologize to Daniil as it was nothing intentional."

Robert Kubica (20th, 1:06.206): "Qualifying went quite okay. On my second run, I managed to put in a reasonable lap although it is still not enough compared to the others. At least something positive is that, apart from turn one where I lost a bit of time, the rest of the lap was pretty good for me. Tomorrow will be busy with the short lap and blue flags. I hope to enjoy the beginning of the race, and hopefully we will not struggle too much with the tires."

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: "As usual we spent FP3 completing our final checks ahead of defining the set-up for rest of the weekend. Conditions were again very hot, but the wind was calmer than yesterday afternoon. Both drivers made some small set-up changes overnight and were happy to take these into qualifying. The tires remain a little awkward to get working due to the short outlap and as a result we saw teams employ a range of run plans in Q1. We chose to split our approach with George completing multiple laps on his two sets of tires and Robert using three sets but setting only a single timed lap on each of the last two. Both drivers were happy that they got their tires working reasonably well when it counted. The short track, the need for people to prepare their tires carefully whilst also looking to get a tow from a car in front, can lead to some traffic difficulties and we saw several examples of this today. Unfortunately, George was caught in a train of cars waiting to start their timed lap when Kvyat was completing one of his laps. Although George remained off the racing line and inside the pit entry line, he was deemed to have impeded Kvyat and will therefore receive a grid penalty for tomorrow's race."

Qualifying Results

1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:04.138 1:03.378 1:03.003 19
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:03.818 1:03.803 1:03.262 27
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:03.807 1:03.835 1:03.439 18
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.084 1:03.863 1:03.537 25
5 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:04.778 1:04.466 1:04.072 20
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 1:04.361 1:04.211 1:04.099 19
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1:04.615 1:04.056 1:04.166 23
8 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1:04.450 1:04.194 1:04.179 22
9 10 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing Honda 1:04.412 1:03.988 1:04.199 18
10 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:04.340 1:03.667 No Time 9
11 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:04.552 1:04.490 18
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:04.733 1:04.516 12
13 23 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso Honda 1:04.708 1:04.665 15
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:04.647 1:04.790 12
15 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 1:04.453 1:13.601 12
16 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point Bwt 1:04.789 8
17 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point Bwt 1:04.832 9
18 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 1:05.324 8
19 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:05.904 12
20 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 1:06.206 11

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