On the second shortest track of the season, qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix produced the usual great spectacle of today's fastest drivers fighting it out to the nearest thousandths of a second. Scuderia Ferrari missed out on the top slot by a whisker, with Charles Leclerc’s best lap just 29 thousandths off Max Verstappen’s time. Therefore, in tomorrow’s Sprint race, which runs over 24 laps, equivalent to 100 kilometres and starts at 16.30, Charles will start from second place on the grid, with team-mate Carlos Sainz third, 82 thousandths off the pole time.
Q3. The top-ten shoot out was particularly exciting. On his first attempt, Charles posted a 1’05”183, having found Lewis Hamilton ahead of him, which cost the Ferrari man a few thousandths, enough to put him behind Verstappen’s 1’05”092. Carlos stopped the clocks in 1’05”300. The session was then red flagged twice, following crashes for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell and when it resumed, there was just over two and half minutes remaining. At this point all the drivers went out on new Soft tyres and both the Ferraris went quicker, Charles getting down to 1’05”013 and Carlos doing a 1’05”066. Verstappen secured pole with a 1’04”984.
Sprint. The second Sprint race of the season, its grid based on today’s qualifying, will feature an identical front row to the first one, held in Imola. Its outcome sets the grid for the Grand Prix itself, which starts at 3pm on Sunday. Before all that, there’s a final hour of free practice that gets underway at 12.30, when teams will get a final chance to prepare for the short race and Sunday’s 71 laps, equivalent to 306.452 kilometres.
Charles Leclerc #16
"It was very close, but Max was just in front today. I had some understeer after the red flags as I struggled to get the tyres back in the right window, so I didn’t have a perfect lap. It’s a shame, but it’s only Friday and it's Sunday that really counts. Tomorrow it will be important to work on driving style in FP2 and then have a very good Sprint."
Carlos Sainz #55
"That was extremely close! It was a positive qualifying in general. We managed to build the speed through the session and put in a good lap at the end. The first couple of corners of that final run were very tricky as we had lost temperature on the tyres due to the second red flag. In the end, we missed out on a better result by less than a tenth, so I think we are up for an interesting Sprint tomorrow and GP on Sunday, as we have a strong pace. We’ll prepare as best as possible and fight for a good result!"
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director
"We knew it would be a very closely fought qualifying, a head-to-head between us and our competitors. During this morning’s free practice, we worked a lot on optimising our package and we were then competitive enough to fight for pole down to the nearest thousandths of a second. We didn’t manage to secure the number one slot, but that’s what can happen when the gaps are so small and it’s all part of the game. We will try and change that in the race. The main aspect of this weekend is that it’s a very long one. Effectively it’s a 400 kilometre race run in two parts. We have seen that our potential is there and that we have started out on the right footing. Now, those of us here at the track and our colleagues back in Maranello can expect a really interesting challenge. The gap to our rivals is minimal, so if we want to reverse today’s result, the slightest detail can make the difference. We will do our utmost to ensure our drivers have everything they need to extract even more performance from their F1-75s."