Yellow flags ensure Bottas pole over Vettel in Austria

Valtteri Bottas on pole for Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas on pole for Mercedes

Romain Grosjean came to a halt in the American Haas-Ferrari and 'Mad' Max Verstappen went flying off the track and the resulting yellow flags when everyone was about to set their fastest times meant that Valtteri Bottas will start from pole in Sunday's Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was just 0.04 sec. back and will start 2nd.

Lewis Hamilton was third for Mercedes but faces a 5-grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top-5.

A late on-track stoppage for Haas’s Romain Grosjean (seventh) and then an off for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (sixth) prevented improvements in the dying seconds of Q3. It left Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fourth ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, while the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz completed the top ten.

Kevin Magnussen arguably should have joined Haas team mate Grosjean in Q3, but his afternoon ended in disappointment thanks to an early rear suspension failure. His Q1 time comfortably carried him into Q2, but unable to continue, the Dane was eliminated in the second phase in P15.

Grosjean and Verstappen ruined everyone's fast lap in Q3
Grosjean and Verstappen ruined everyone's fast lap in Q3

Also knocked out in Q2 were Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in 11th, followed by the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.

Meanwhile, it was a disastrous qualifying for Williams, with both Felipe Massa (17th) and team mate Lance Stroll (18th) eliminated in Q1, along with Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Sauber duo Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

With Wehrlein again being beaten by his ride-buying teammate it's becoming clear he will never be material for the Mercedes team who are paying for his ride.

After the first runs in Q3 Bottas and Hamilton were first and third on 1m 04.251s and 1m 04.424s, with Vettel on 1m 04.293s in second, all of them on ultrasofts, with Raikkonen fourth on 1m 04.779s from Ricciardo on 1m 04.896s and Verstappen on 1m 04.983s. That meant an eighth place start for Hamilton.

It stayed that way. He ran wide in Turn 1 on his second effort, but when Grosjean ground to a halt and brought out the yellows in Sector 2 near Turn 3, nobody was going any faster. Meanwhile, Verstappen spun in Turn 8 and went bouncing into the gravel.

Behind the top six, Grosjean maintained seventh with 1m 05,480s from the Force Indias of Perez and Ocon on1m 05.605s and 1m 05.674s, as Sainz rounded out the top 10 on 1m 05.726s.

Thus the provisional grid reads: Bottas, Vettel; Raikkonen, Ricciardo; Verstappen, Grosjean; Perez, Hamilton; Ocon, Sainz; Hulkenberg, Alonso; Vandoorne, Kvyat; Magnussen, Palmer; Massa, Stroll; Ericsson, Wehrlein.


Mercedes GP

Valtteri Bottas (1st, 1:04.251): "What a special feeling. It's only the second pole for me and hopefully there's more to come. It was a good lap in Q3, if not quite perfect. Today was all about building up the confidence in the car. I got it set up nicely and it's great to get the second pole position of my career. I'm going to focus on my own race, rather than looking behind me tomorrow, but we will not underestimate the Ferraris. It's going to be close and should be an interesting fight. Hopefully Lewis can fight back and we can score strong points for the team. The weather could be important tomorrow but starting first, I won't complain if the rain stays away. The car feels great, especially on high fuel, and I'm ready to win. That's the only target. It's been too long since Russia."

Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:04.424): "It's been a frustrating day for me. I had a chance to be fastest today and I didn't quite put it all together on that final lap in Q3. I'm disappointed with my performance in Q3: it would have been great to do a better lap but it obviously wasn't meant to be. Valtteri did a fantastic job though to take pole. The gearbox issue hasn't played on my mind during the weekend but after qualifying you realize you're starting further back. I think it will be tough to make progress tomorrow. The pack is a lot closer than in 2014 when I fought up to P2. But perhaps the weather can come into play. I'll work as hard as I can to recover and try get as many points as possible. We still have great pace and the car has been fantastic here, so I know I've got the car to do the job. Let's see how it all plays out tomorrow."

James Allison, Technical Director: "If I am completely honest, we had hoped for a little more this afternoon, but it seems churlish to be anything other than delighted by a splendid pole position for Valtteri and third place for Lewis, whose performance in Q2 showed that he has plenty of race pace to unleash tomorrow. It will surely be an interesting Grand Prix, dodging the possible rain showers and making the most of our potential at this deceptively tricky track."

Toto Wolff: "Mixed emotions after qualifying today. Valtteri did the perfect job this afternoon – he built up his performance through the session and his second pole position is a good reward. He has lost out on positions by tiny margins this year, so it's great to see him claim pole by a few hundredths this time round. As for Lewis, we knew he had a bit of a mountain to climb with the grid penalty for the gearbox change. His pace in Q2 on the super soft tire showed that he is in good shape for tomorrow – but unfortunately he lost some time in Turn 1 on his final lap and that meant he finished the session P3. But he will start the race on the super soft tire, so he has options for the race. I think all the pieces are in place for a really exciting Grand Prix, with a chance that the weather could mix things up as well."

Red Bull-Tag Heuer

Daniel Ricciardo (5th, 1:04.896): "It's a bit tricky out there. This year the track has a lot of grip on it and that kind of makes it harder. You feel you can push more but it's easy to go over the limit because we carry so much corner speed. We all obviously love going fast and want more and more, so we end up getting greedy and then mistakes happen, but that makes it exciting. Of course it would have been nice to finish that last lap but in the end I'm happy with the top five and we'll move up to fourth because of Lewis' penalty. All in all it was a pretty good session and I'm relatively happy. I believe there is a bit of rain coming tomorrow at noon so it should be interesting and not that straight forward. Lewis will try to come up the ranks as well so it will be exciting."

Max Verstappen (6th, 1:04.983): "You can never predict qualifying but it was reasonable today. I hoped for a little better balance in the car but overall it was not too bad. I tried a lot of different lines at turn three and all the time I was losing the rear of the car. On my final run I was gaining time but I didn't get DRS down the straight as Grosjean was stopped on track. You lose easily two and a half tenths on that straight if you don't have DRS. I tried to get a little more out of the next corners but I picked up the throttle maybe a little too early at turn seven and lost the rear. Tomorrow I don't think we are quite there in terms of speed to fight with Mercedes and Ferrari, but as we have seen a lot can happen in the race so anything is possible. If there is a bit of a mix of conditions that could be good for us and with a good strategy you never know. There is a lot of orange everywhere in the grandstands which is really nice to see, so we will try and put on a good show for everyone."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "It was a slightly anti-climactic end to an exciting qualifying here at the Red Bull Ring. In the end, unfortunately the yellow flags, initially for Grosjean, and thus DRS switching off, prevented everybody from the opportunity to improve on their times. Particularly Max, in trying to make that time up he obviously got a bit too deep into turn 7 and that was the end of qualifying. Daniel did a good job with the first run to qualify fifth, and fifth and sixth, which become fourth and fifth on the grid due to Lewis' penalty, sets us up for an exciting race with potentially a bit of weather around tomorrow. Looking at the grid we hope to have a part to play in the result in front of our home crowd in Austria."


Sebastian Vettel (2nd, 1:04.293): "In the second run I was hoping to jump Bottas and I think I could have done better, but in the end I am pretty happy with my lap; the car is very good. Mercedes is always very quick in qualifying, but today we were close. I think it should be fine tomorrow. It will be a long race and many things can happen. The most important thing is that the car was good in qualifying. We will try to do our race and look forward. For sure it will be tough, but let’s see what we can do"

Kimi Raikkonen (4th, 1:04.779): The whole weekend had been quite tricky so far and yesterday, for certain reasons, we did not have a very good day. This morning, we basically started from zero. The feeling with the car was getting better and better, but it was not easy to recover from yesterday. The qualifying session was a bit messy, with the traffic and the yellow flags. I’m not very happy overall, but considering how tricky it has been , third place is not bad. It could have been much worse. Later this evening and tomorrow morning we will go through all the different scenarios and we’ll try to pick the best one, depending on what happens in the first lap, how the weather will be and other factors

Force India-Mercedes

Sergio Perez (8th, 1:05.605): "I'm feeling happy with our performance today. I think it was one of my best qualifying sessions when you consider how difficult things have been leading up to the session. I was P17 in second practice and P18 in final practice this morning. So to end qualifying in eighth place shows the mega steps we have taken to improve the car. It's been a huge effort by the whole team. I was a bit unlucky with the yellow flag at the end of the session because there was an opportunity to improve my time. I'm really looking forward to this race and I think we will be even stronger in race conditions. We need to keep an eye on the weather, but wet or dry I think we can have a great race tomorrow."

Esteban Ocon (9th, 1:05.674): "I am not completely happy with ninth place, given all that happened in the session, but it's still a good starting position. My fastest lap in Q3 was set on used tires, but the yellow flags meant I couldn't finish my attempt on fresh tires. I feel I could have been a couple of places higher up, but it's the way racing goes sometimes – you have to take your chances when you can. We need to review if there is something we could have done better, but I am still feeling positive about the weekend. We improved a lot since yesterday and the feeling I have with the car is much better now than it was during practice. I enjoy this track and it's a place where you can overtake so hopefully we can bring home some good points tomorrow."

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "After a challenging Friday, it's great to see both cars qualify well this afternoon. It sets us up nicely for a strong race tomorrow knowing that we have a competitive car with solid race pace. The team has done an incredible job to get on top of the balance issues we had during yesterday's practice sessions and the car is now much more to the drivers' liking. The yellow flag towards the end of qualifying meant we didn't necessarily maximize the session with either car, but we can't be disappointed with the outcome of today's qualifying session."


Felipe Massa (17th, 1:06.534): "We definitely struggled to make the tires work and get the best lap out of the car, so it was a disappointed qualifying for me and the team. I had a lot of oversteer in Turn Six, which cost me a couple of tenths. But we need to concentrate on the race tomorrow. We know that the race pace is much better than qualifying pace, but starting 17th definitely makes our life tricky and quite difficult for the race, so we need to concentrate 100 percent on that."

Lance Stroll (18th, 1:06.608): "It is not the best day for the team as we just didn't improve from yesterday. We have been struggling with the car all weekend and have been trying to work on the balance to improve it. We are simply losing time in the high speed corners to some of the other cars. On the positive side, we are better on our long runs than we were in qualifying on our short runs and that gives us hope going into the race. Tomorrow the race will be long and all we can do is see what happens."

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: "It wasn't a good day for us. We simply weren't quick enough, there's not much more to say than that really. We've had good and bad balance through the weekend so far, but in the end it's not about the balance, we just simply aren't quick enough today. We did a lot of work overnight trying to understand the pace from yesterday but none of the things we've tried really adjust the fundamental issue, so we need to go away and analyze that further to see where we are. On the positive side, when we ran high fuel yesterday we looked to be in our normal competitive position and so we're hopeful we can make some progress during the race tomorrow."


Fernando Alonso (12th, 1:05.602): "A positive Saturday. I feel we did the maximum today – I'm happy with our laps, our result and our performance in general this weekend. We had an unexpected change of engine, and I reverted back to the old spec today, so finishing P12 and feeling competitive all through quali was positive news. The team is working very hard to improve our situation: we bring aero updates to every race, we bring new engine specs whenever we can, and we're definitely moving forwards. We still need to improve our reliability, but hopefully we'll see further signs in the next couple of weeks. From 12th place, with a good start or a good strategy, we could be in a position to score points. There's some possible rain forecast for tomorrow – if that turns out to be correct, it'll probably open up more opportunities for us. We need to be ready to take them…"

Stoffel Vandoorne (13th, 1:05.741): "I think it's been a pretty good weekend for us so far. The practice sessions have gone well and qualifying was more or less what we expected. This afternoon's times were extremely close: it all came down to a couple of small details – with another couple of tenths, we'd have been into Q3. So today really shows that every improvement we bring to the car is very valuable – it all helps. We're definitely headed in the right direction – every new piece of performance we bring is welcome, but we need to keep pushing."

Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "While starting tomorrow's grand prix from 12th and 13th feels a little disappointing after the practice pace we've shown at times this weekend, it's probably a fair reflection of where we are. Looking at the timesheets, we were frustratingly close to getting both cars into Q3 this afternoon – and a couple more tenths would have safely moved up us into the top 10. Nevertheless, starting both cars on the fringes of the top 10 gives us an opportunity to move forwards tomorrow. It would be fantastic to come away from this weekend with some points – that's certainly our ambition – and I think we've got a realistic chance of achieving that if we can maintain this positive direction in the race tomorrow."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda: "We came into this weekend with two new Spec Three power units, and we were hopeful that both drivers would be able to break into Q3 in readiness to score some valuable points on Sunday. Unfortunately, after yesterday's FP2 session, we detected an issue with Fernando's MGU-H and it was necessary to change his PU back to the Spec Two to avoid penalties. Undeterred, Fernando put in a great qualifying performance, so it was disappointing that he was unable to fight for a place in Q3. Stoffel ran with the Spec Three today, and it was clear that he feels quite comfortable around this track and, as a result, closed the gap to Fernando. It was a shame he just missed out on the top 10, but encouraging nonetheless. Despite this, I think both cars are in a strong position to be able to score some points. We are expecting unstable weather tomorrow, and, as we know, anything can happen in the race, so hopefully we can capitalize on any opportunities that come our way and break into the points."

Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault

Carlos Sainz (10th, 1:05.726): "A good qualifying! Before the weekend started, we knew this track was going to be quite tricky for us, but we found a really good set-up in FP3 that made me feel really confident with the car. As soon as the qualifying session started, we put in very competitive lap times and a P10 is a good place to start in tomorrow's race. It's just a shame about the yellow flags at the end of Q3 – I wasn't able to set a time on new tires; my Q3 lap time was done on used tires and we're only a tenth behind the Force India's and Grosjean. Unfortunately we didn't have the chance to improve, but after a tricky start to the weekend I'm happy with today's result and I look forward to tomorrow's race: we have a good chance of scoring points and we need to make the most out of our chances!"

Daniil Kvyat (14th, 1:05.884): "How frustrating. In this afternoon's qualifying we lost all the balance and therefore all the confidence I had in the car up until now was gone; it just felt the worst it's been all weekend: I felt I had no grip anymore and my rear was sliding a lot; it's really disappointing! Let's see what we can do tomorrow, the good thing is that anything can happen on race day – we now need to evaluate all the options, look into the data and understand what's best for us."

James Key, Technical Director: "It's a shame, we did some good work overnight to pick-up a little more performance for today and the engineers worked very well at identifying the changes we needed to make without changing the fundamental set-up and balance we have had this weekend, that seemed to be working reasonably well this morning. The spacing between teams around us was again very tight, so we knew qualifying could be a bit of a lottery. We showed some good pace in Q1 and that looked positive for a potential Q3. Carlos found a lot of performance in his second run and that gave us a good reference point for Q2 with him. Then he put in a good lap during his first run in Q2, which was enough to see him through to Q3 – that was a great job. We knew we had a chance of Q3, although it was tight, but Carlos made it happen as we hoped, so very pleased with that! Sadly, he didn't really get to show what we could've done in Q3 due to the yellow flags at the end. He did his first run on a used set of tires just as a reference and we ran the new set at the end, but two yellow flags on that lap meant that his lap was not possible – of course, this affected many other people as well, but we had not had a new tire run by that stage so we will never know what progress we may have made. For Daniil, he's been happy with his car this weekend but this afternoon he felt a little bit of instability in some of the slow-speed corners, which he didn't have this morning. Maybe this is something to do with a bit of wind or track temperature difference that we had in qualifying compared to the other practice session. However, he was less comfortable and unfortunately didn't quite get a lap together – that we knew he was capable of – to get through to Q3. He starts P14, but we know he's got the raw pace to do the job here and I'm sure we can progress from there tomorrow – it gives us freedom of tire choice and strategy too so, although we're a little bit further back than we'd like to be, not all is lost. With Carlos, we'll do our best from P10 and see what we can do. We've got some cars ahead that we'd like to challenge and some cars behind that we'd like to keep behind, so there's plenty of thinking and work to do this evening and we look forward to a good challenge tomorrow."


Romain Grosjean (7th, 1:05.480): "We've been quick all weekend, Kevin and I. We've both been pretty happy with the car. Unfortunately, Kevin had the suspension issue in Q1, otherwise I think he would've been up there with us. In between Q1 and Q2 we found some performance. We had good grip in the car. I think we just lost an electric connection on the car at the end. I'm hoping it's nothing more serious than that. It's a long race tomorrow. It's going to be tough on the brakes, tough on the engine and tough physically. It's the second time this year though, after Melbourne, where I feel the tires are working well and I can really enjoy myself and push the car to the limit."

Kevin Magnussen (15th, No Time): "We were looking good, so it's really frustrating not getting the whole qualifying. It's really unfortunate to break the rear suspension. It's just bad luck. I think we could've gone on to Q3 today and had a really good chance of points tomorrow. Now it looks more difficult. We had been performing well all weekend. We had good pace and were in the top-10. I'm gutted not to get anything out of it."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "A good follow-up from yesterday in FP3 – it was solid – and we carried it over into qualifying. Unfortunately, Kevin had suspension failure. His time was good to get into Q2, but he couldn't drive in the session. Romain made it into Q3, which is very good again to be there. He then qualified seventh. On his lap with new tires he had an electronic issue – which we're still investigating – but we should be on the grid tomorrow without any more issues. With the pace the car has shown over the weekend here, with Kevin starting 15th, we're still very hopeful and very confident to get into the points with him, and for sure with Romain we have to keep him there. Hopefully, we have no more mechanical or electronic issues and we have a good race tomorrow."


Nico Hulkenberg (11th, 1:05.597): "I'm satisfied with eleventh place, it's a good effort. I put in a sweet lap at the end of Q2 and it was equally good fun to look for the last few thousands of a second. Tomorrow will be a tough race but we will get a free choice of start tires and that's a good position. It was a good job from the team."

Jolyon Palmer (16th, 1:06.345): "I knew qualifying was going to be tight. The car feels better and the performance is closer this weekend so it's a shame that we couldn't hook it up in end but there is overall progress. We'll look to have a good start and aim to get in the points tomorrow."

Alan Permane, Sporting Director: "Overall a disappointing qualifying session. Nico had a decent session and it was good for him to get up to eleventh place. It gives us free choice on tires but of course we always want more. Jo was within reach of Q2 but didn't get through, we were aiming for a better grid position for tomorrow's race. Regarding the strategy, all teams will probably be going for a one-stop race, like so many this season. The three tires compounds are very close however and that may come into play. We have seen plenty of afternoon showers and even storms earlier in the week so the weather may play a part, we will be keeping a close eye on the radar."


Marcus Ericsson (19th, 1:06.857): "Although today has been a slightly better day for us, we cannot be satisfied with P19 and P20. Regarding my fastest lap in Q1, in comparison to yesterday, I was able to reduce the gap between myself and our direct competition. We made some progress, however, we have to continue improving. The race tomorrow is going to be particularly demanding for the brakes."

Pascal Wehrlein (20th, 1:07.011): "Unfortunately, there was not much more that could be done during qualifying. After yesterday's practice, today I continued to have power unit issues, and that made me lose pace, especially on the straights. As usual, I will do my best during the race tomorrow. The weather could also play a defining role at this GP."

Qualifying Results

Pos No. Driver Car-Engine Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-Mercedes 1:05.760 1:04.316 1:04.251 18
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari-Ferrari 1:05.585 1:04.772 1:04.293 17
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-Mercedes 1:05.064 1:04.800 1:04.424 17
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari-Ferrari 1:05.148 1:05.004 1:04.779 17
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault 1:05.854 1:05.161 1:04.896 22
6 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Renault 1:05.779 1:04.948 1:04.983 16
7 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:05.902 1:05.319 1:05.480 30
8 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:05.975 1:05.435 1:05.605 21
9 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:06.033 1:05.550 1:05.674 22
10 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Renault 1:05.675 1:05.544 1:05.726 23
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault-Renault 1:06.174 1:05.597 16
12 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:06.158 1:05.602 14
13 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:06.316 1:05.741 14
14 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1:05.990 1:05.884 16
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:06.143 6
16 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault-Renault 1:06.345 10
17 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1:06.534 8
18 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:06.608 11
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:06.857 12
20 94 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:07.011 11

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