Leclerc beats Hamilton to pole but Vettel hits trouble

Image by Andy Hone/LAT

Leclerc beats Hamilton to pole but Vettel hits trouble

Formula 1

Leclerc beats Hamilton to pole but Vettel hits trouble


Charles Leclerc secured the second pole position of his career at the Austrian Grand Prix, beating Lewis Hamilton while his teammate Sebastian Vettel failed to run in Q3.

Ferrari’s straight-line speed advantage meant its car was well suited to the Red Bull Ring and Leclerc followed his fastest laps in FP2 and FP3 with an impressive qualifying performance. The 21-year-old’s first lap in Q3 proved good enough for pole position but he then improved even more to post a 1m03.003s and beat Hamilton by 0.259s.

The Austrian circuit is playing to Ferrari’s strengths. Image by Glenn Dunbar/LAT

Hamilton’s second place is not fully secure, though, after he got in Kimi Raikkonen’s way in Q1, with the incident being investigated after the session.

Max Verstappen provisionally starts third and on the same medium compound as Mercedes, with Ferrari — starting on softs — only having one car working in the final part of qualifying as Vettel hit trouble.

There was plenty of activity in the Ferrari garage at the end of Q2 as there appeared to be an issue with Vettel’s car, and the team’s investigations found a problem with the air pressure line to the engine that couldn’t be rectified in time for the four-time world champion to take part in Q3. As a result, Vettel didn’t set a time, but will start from ninth place as long as no components need changing, due to a grid penalty for Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen had impressed with the fifth-fastest time — behind Valtteri Bottas — but will start from 10th due to changing his gearbox after FP3, promoting Lando Norris to fifth for the second consecutive race. Raikkonen starts from sixth barring any Hamilton penalty, with teammate Antonio Giovinazzi seventh as Alfa Romeo enjoyed a strong performance.

The same couldn’t be said for Pierre Gasly, who again struggled at Red Bull’s home race after a stronger run in practice. The Frenchman qualified in ninth place, the slowest of the Q3 runners, but will be promoted to eighth by Magnussen’s penalty.

The Mercedes pair and Verstappen both advanced from Q2 on the medium tires and will start the race on that compound, while Ferrari opted for softs. There was some drama in the fight for the final places in Q3 at the end of the session, as Magnussen — inside the top 10 — locked up and ran wide at Turn 4. Slowly controlling the car with two wheels in the gravel, Magnussen was in Norris’ way and the McLaren had to also abort his lap.

With two cars slowing, the Renault pair of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were also hampered and had to give up their laps, resulting in both being eliminated while Magnussen and Norris progressed. Romain Grosjean was knocked out in 11th ahead of Hulkenberg, with Alexander Albon splitting the two Renaults but set to start from the back of the grid due to a power unit penalty, as will Carlos Sainz who was 15th in Q2.

Daniil Kvyat was left angered by traffic as he encountered George Russell going slowly as a number of drivers were backing up before starting their laps. Kvyat was forced very wide as a result at the end of his final attempt, complaining: ”What the f**k was that… I almost killed someone.”

The incident will be investigated after the session, but it didn’t help Kvyat at the time as he was eliminated in 18th place as a result, only ahead of the Williams pair of Russell and Robert Kubica. They were joined by both Racing Point cars, with Sergio Perez edging out Lance Stroll by just 0.043s.