Grand Prix of Austria – Qualifying

Less than a week after the GP of France, it’s time for Austria. HAM arrives in Spielberg with a 14 point lead over VET, with RIC a further 35 points back; Mercedes are 23 points ahead of Ferrari.

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: HAM (1:04.839), BOT, VER, VET, RIC
  2. FP2: HAM (1:04.579), BOT, VET, RIC, VER
    GAS takes too much kerb, breaks his front left suspension and runs off into the gravel trap; brief red flags while his car is removed
    MAG having power issues; told not to use 8th gear
    Toro Rosso mechanics have swapped GAS’ suspension and he’s back out on track
    MAG might be penalised for an unsafe release after his front right wheel was not attached, but they stopped him before he even got into the “fast” pit lane
  3. FP3: VET (1.04.070), HAM, BOT, RAI, VER
    VER runs wide, into the gravel but survives and keeps running
    RAI follows in VER’s footsteps
    VER parks his Red Bull, reporting a complete loss of power
    LEC suffers the same fame, saying “there is something wrong with the engine” in his Sauber

The mechanics at Red Bull and Sauber are busy (as they are at most teams) – the expectation is both VER and LEC will be ready in time for Quali.
LEC has been given a 5-grid spot penalty for the engine change.

15mins before Q1; air temperature 23°C; track 33°C; a few clouds but no threat of rain
Mechanics still working furiously on VER, LEC, HAR & MAG’s cars

Tyre compounds this weekend: soft, supersoft & ultrasoft

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
HAR sits at the pit exit, waiting for the lights to turn green
HAR 1:05.687
SIR 1:05.598
Radio from HAM asking his mechanics to look at something on the left side of his seat
OCO 1:05.567
BOT 1:04.539
HAM 1:04.294
BOT 1:04.175
LEC runs over the yellow kerb and a piece of his front wing flies off
Only VET and RAI are on supersofts; everyone else on ultrasofts
HAM 1:04.080
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are VAN, STR, ALO, PER, ERI
ERI P19
ALO P10, HAR P15
VAN P16, SIR P15
PER P16
Chequered flag; PER, SIR, HAR, STR, ERI
LEC runs wide, across the gravel; yellow flags briefly
STR P15, VAN P16
Back of the grid: VAN, PER, SIR, HAR, ERI

Qualifying session 2
Mercedes heading out on supersoft tyres; Ferrari on ultrasofts
Radio from HAM complaining of vibration from the front tyres
LEC 1:04.982
GAS 1:04.874
BOT 1:03.756
HAM 1:03.577
(VET P3)
ALO running on soft tyres – that’s odd
RIC had a poor lap – P12 but goes P9 on his second run
5mins left; bottom 5 are HUL, OCO, LEC, ALO, STR
Radio for RAI warning him the temperatures are dropping (although it’s the same as I noted just before Q1 started)
OCO on his quick lap catches STR on his out lap
VET 1:03.544
ALO runs wide in the final turn and breaks his front wing
Chequered flag; GAS, OCO, LEC, SLO, STR
OCO P11
Middle of the grid: OCO, GAS, LEC*, ALO, STR
*LEC has a 5-spot penalty to be applied

Race stewards investigating VET for impeding SAI

Qualifying session 3 starts shortly…
Top 10 shootout is between VET, HAM, BOT, RAI, VER, GRO, MAG, RIC, SAI and HUL
HAM starts his quick lap; runs wide in Turn 3
RIC 1:04.252
VER 1:04.061
RAI 1:03.982
BOT 1:03.264
HAM P2
VET P6
HUL P7
SAI P7
Order after first run: BOT, HAM, RAI, VER, RIC, VET, SAI, HUL; no time yet from GRO, MAG
GRO P3
RAI P2
MAG P8
RIC and VER seems to be competing to see who can go slower on their out lap
5mins left; order: BOT, RAI, HAM, GRO, VER, RIC, VET, MAG, SAI, HUL
RIC P5
VER P5
2mins left; order: BOT, RAI, HAM, GRO, VER, RIC, VET, MAG, SAI, HUL
Everyone on track for a final run
RAI P2
SAI P8
Chequered flag
VET P2
BOT 1:03.130
HAM P2
MAG P8
RIC P7 – he ran wide in the final turn
VER P5
Front of the grid: BOT, HAM, VET, RAI, VER, GRO, RIC, MAG, SAI, HUL

Provisional grid: BOT, HAM, VET, RAI, VER, GRO, RIC, MAG, SAI, HUL, OCO, GAS, LEC*, ALO, STR, VAN, PER, SIR, HAR, ERI
*LEC has a 5-spot penalty to be applied, dropping him to P18 behind SIR
Incident involving VET impeding SAI in Q2 under investigation

RIC says he’s disappointed; “I’m not too impressed to be honest. We had three runs and I was just punching a hole for everyone. We could have been more fair.” – presumably referring to the jostling for position between him and VER.
VER says he was ahead in Quali in Paul Ricard (French GP) and it was RIC’s turn here.