Valtteri Bottas set a new track record at the Red Bull Ring to claim his first pole position of the 2020 season and his 12th overall, as Lewis Hamilton took second place to complete a front row lock-out for Mercedes in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.
In Q1 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was quickly up to P1, setting a time of 1:04.326 on soft tyres. Hamilton, meanwhile, made his way to second place, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in third. However, late in the segment, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll put in an impressive lap of 1:04.309 to edge Verstappen out to P2. The Red Bull driver was no mood to miss out on laying down an early marker, however, and in the closing moments Verstappen jumped back to the top of the order with a lap of 1:04.024.
Hamilton and Bottas also improved in the final runs to take P2 and P3 respectively, and that pushed Stroll out to P4 ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who set a time of 1:04.500.
Down in the drop zone, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen was eliminated in P16 ahead of Williams’ George Russell, the Alfa Romeo pairing of Antonio Giovinazzi, Kimi Räikkönen and the second Williams of Nicholas Latifi.
In Q2, the Mercedes drivers were first out on track, on soft tyres, and Hamilton was to the fore as the pair crossed the line, his 1:03.325 being good enough to push eclipse Bottas by 0.205s.
Verstappen, meanwhile, took P7 with his first flyer. That was seven tenths down on Hamilton but unlike the Mercedes pair the Red Bull driver had chosen to complete his first run on medium tyres. He would eventually progrewss to Q3 in P6 with a time of 1:04.000.
Further back, Verstappen’s team-mate, Alex Albon, was having difficulty on soft tyres and a moment of oversteer late in his lap compromised his lap and left him 13th. That left him in the drop zone behind AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat and ahead of Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Haas’ Romain Grosjean. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was also nervously looking at the timesheet as he lay in 10th place, just three hundredths ahead of Gasly.
In the final runs, Bottas took P1 ahead of Hamilton with a time of 1:03.015. Albon vaulted out of the danger zone to third place with a time of 1:03.746, while Lando Norris finished fourth ahead of the Racing Points of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, and the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz.
Verstappen bolted on soft tyres for his final run but backed off in the final sector to ensure that he will start the race on medium tyres – the only man to make that choice. The Dutchman went through in eighth place, ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo and the 10th placed Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
There was shock in the elimination zone, however, as Sebastian Vettel could only manage 11thplace, 0.165 behind his team-mate. Also eliminated at the end of the second session were 12th placed Gasly, followed by Kvyat, Ocon and Grosjean.
In Q3 Bottas set a new track record with a lap of 1:02.939 ahead of Hamilton who made a slight error on his first run. Verstappen then slotted into P3, 0.612s behind Bottas, with Albon fourth three tenths behind his team-mate. Carlos Sainz took fifth ahead of Perez and Leclerc who was 1.6s behind Bottas. The Monegasque reported a problem with his car, however, and mechanics swiftly began to work on his car as he returned to the garage.
In the final runs Bottas went off track at Turn 4 but Hamilton was unable to beat his team-mate with his lap and the Finn took his third pole position in Austria with his opening lap, which in the end was 1200ths of a second ahead of Hamilton’s final lap.
Verstappen took third and will be the only driver in the top 10 to start on medium tyres. Lando Norris grabbed his best ever qualifying result with fourth place ahead of Albon and sixth place on the grid went to Perez. Leclerc was seventh for Ferrari ahead of Sainz, Stroll and Ricciardo.
2020 FIA Formula One Austrian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:02.939 7 246.981
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:02.951 0.012 7 246.934
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:03.477 0.538 7 244.888
4 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:03.626 0.687 5 244.315
5 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:03.868 0.929 6 243.389
6 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:03.868 0.929 6 243.389
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:03.923 0.984 6 243.180
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1:03.971 1.032 6 242.997
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:04.029 1.090 3 242.777
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:04.239 1.300 3
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:04.206 1.191 6 242.108
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:04.305 1.290 6 241.735
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:04.431 1.416 6 241.262
14 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:04.643 1.628 6 240.471
15 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:04.691 1.676 6
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:05.164 1.140 8 238.548
17 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:05.167 1.143 10 238.537
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:05.175 1.151 8 238.508
19 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:05.224 1.200 9 238.329
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:05.757 1.733 12