Grand Prix of Steiermark – Qualifying


It’s interesting that the FIA call this weekend the Formula 1 Pirelli Grosser Preis Der Steiermark but most people are referring to it as the Styrian GP. (Note the different spelling.) Either way, we’re back at the Red Bull Ring which last weekend say BOT, LEC and NOR on the podium.

News:

  • “Alex Zanardi has had a third operation to treat severe head injuries sustained in a hand cycle accident last month.” “His neurological condition remained “severe” and he is sedated and ventilated in intensive care.” “The statement described the cranial and facial fractures Zanardi had suffered as “complex”.” [BBC]
  • “Double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso will return to the sport next year with Renault.” [BBC]
  • “Italy’s Mugello will stage its debut Grand Prix on 13 September, with the Russian GP in Sochi on 27 September. Portimao in Portugal is expected to also get a slot sometime in late autumn.” [BBC]

FP1:
LAT has an engine problem with his Williams; pulls onto the grass; VSC is deployed but then red flags wave to suspend the session
Jack Aitken is in the other Williams, getting his first taste of F1
VER already being told to stay off the kerbs
Haas mechanics working on a battery-related issue for MAG’s car
ALB complaining of “huge understeer mid-corner”
(ALB and VER have new Engine Control Units this weekend)
VET locks up and runs wide into Turn 3
KVY spins in T3
Fastest: PER (1:04.867), VER, BOT, HAM, STR, ALB, SAI, GAS, RIC, VET

*NOR has been given a three-place grid penalty (for Sunday) for overtaking GAS’s AlphaTauri under yellow flags during the first practice session [video]
NOR was also given 2 penalty points on his super licence

FP2:
Forecast for tomorrow is for heavy rain and there’s a concern that FP3 and Quali may be washed out, so FP2 might determine the grid
Despite that, it’s a quiet start to FP2
RIC off at T9, across the gravel and backwards into the tyres
Red flags – FP2 suspended
RIC is out of the car but seems to be limping a bit; his car looks in a sad state too – that was a big impact
[video]
FP2 will be suspended for a while – there’s a tyre wall to rebuild and barriers to check
FP2 restarts after ~15min pause
Radio from VER reporting the engine is cutting out; told to box
Drivers are still running wide and having their lap times deleted
ALB spins in T3
Update from Renault: RIC’s been checked and declared fit
GAS angry about giving his teammate a tow
ALB spins again, across the gravel at T8 this time
Fastest: VER (1:03.660), BOT, PER, STR, SAI, HAM, ALB, NOR, LEC, OCO (VET=P16)
Well if FP3 and Quali are cancelled then this could be an interesting grid!

Interview with NOR is worrying: “It’s just something, I don’t know where, in my chest or something,” said Norris, who revealed that he’d taken painkillers for the issue and consulted a specialist. “I hit the brakes and in the compression, it spikes up massively, so I’m just afraid to brake anywhere, which is not ideal around here. [FIA]

Away from the circuit, “Charles Leclerc has been given an official warning after breaking Formula 1’s coronavirus protocols.” [BBC]

FP3:
“The third practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix has been cancelled, due to torrential rain at the Red Bull Ring.” “There are plans to get qualifying under way at 3pm local time on Saturday, but it could take place on Sunday morning if conditions do not improve.” [FIA]

Qualifying:
An hour before Quali should start and it’s still pouring down
FIA Race Director Michael Masi explains plan if rain washes out Styrian Grand Prix qualifying [FIA] – basically, if they can’t run Quali today then they have a revised schedule with Quali squeezed in tomorrow morning; if they can’t run Quali tomorrow, then they’ll use the FP2 times (because there was no FP3).
FIA tweet “The rain has stopped! Sun behind cloud And the track is slowly but surely drying out…” but will it be enough?
The cloud cover is still thick and very low, which will impact the medical helicopter’s ability to fly and therefore could still prevent Quali even if the track is fine
10mins until Quali is due to start
Bernd Mayländer is putting in a few laps in the Safety Car – the Mercedes-AMG GTR is kicking up a lot of water
Race Control: start of Q1 is delayed (doesn’t say for how long)
Christian Horner describes it as “lashing down” 🙂
Race Control: start of Q1 is delayed further
Sky commentators say the rain is getting heavier but the forecast is for it to ease up with ~15mins left of scheduled Quali time
Even the safety car is aquaplaning!
35mins into what should be Quali; Race Control: start of Q1 is delayed
More SC laps; seems to be slightly drier … or is that wishful thinking?
Race Control: Q1 will start at 15:46 local time
Christian Horner tells Sky it’s crucial to keep the cars in one piece – Hungary is next weekend

Qualifying session 1 (Q1):
Queue forming at pit exit; VET’s at the front, followed by LEC
Looks like the rain’s picking up again
Green light; Q1 starts and everyone heads out on full wet tyres (blue band)
Radio from VER – “I can’t see a thing”!
GRO runs wide, onto the gravel but recovers
VET 1:24.235
RUS 1:24.031
Everyone completes their first timed lap; bottom 5 are BOT, SAI, NOR, RIC, GRO… oh, no time for GRO, he pitted after his off
LEC 1:23.072
(BOT P2)
(MAG P2)
LEC 1:21.857
(HAM P19!)
(VER P2)
HAM 1:20.953
Yellow flag – clears almost immediately – ALB spun in T3
LEC 1:20.871
BOT 1:20.749
VER 1:20.621
10mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are PER, GIO, LAT, RUS, GRO
BOT 1:19.734
Radio from STR – “I’m losing grip”
GRO still in the Haas garage
HAM 1:19.664
(OCO P2)
BOT 1:19.617
NOR 1:19.128
HAM 1:19.081
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are RUS, PER, GAS, GIO, GRO
SAI 1:18.741
Who will be first to switch to inters?
Radio from HAM – “Leave me to it Bono, leave me to it”
HAM 1:18.188
Too late to change tyres now
2mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are RAI, PER, GIO, LAT, GRO
GIO spins off, doesn’t manage to keep the Alfa Romeo out of the tyre wall – small bump with the rear
(LAT P18)
Yellow flag… becomes red flags – Q1 ended
The flags were because GIO parked in the escape road at T4
Rear of the grid: RAI, PER, LAT, GIO, GRO

First time a Williams has made it to Q2 since the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix!

Qualifying session 2:
VET 1:21.078
BOT 1:19.006
HAM 1:18.741
VER 1:18.155
Everyone still on full wets
HAM improves but still P2
VER 1:17.938
ALB’s lap time deleted for exceeding track limits
HAM 1:17.825
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are LEC, RUS, STR, KVY, MAG
Race Control: incident involving LEC and STR will be investigated after the session
Radio from VER – “I think it’s raining more heavy now”
2mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are LEC, RUS, STR, KVY, MAG (VET P10)
Chequered flag
Middle of the grid: LEC, RUS, STR, KVY, MAG

Qualifying session 3:
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, VER, NOR*, BOT, GAS, OCO, SAI, ALB, RIC, VET
*Remember NOR has a 3 grid spot penalty waiting for him due to overtaking under yellow flags in FP1
They’re all lined up at pit out, waiting for the lights to change
Everyone’s on full wets
Radio from HAM – “There’s a lot more water down”
VER 1:21.800
NOR P2
OCO P2
BOT P2
HAM P2
GAS P6
ALB P5
VET P7
SAI P9
RIC P6
VER 1:21.570
NOR P2
HAM 1:21.272
BOT 1:21.036
5mins left; order is BOT, HAM, VER, OCO, NOR, GAS, ALB, RIC, SAI, VET
HAM pushing hard, twitching
HAM 1:20.649
NOR has a lap time deleted for exceeding track limits
Radio from VER – “I can’t see anything”
ALB P3
GAS P3
VER 1:20.489
2mins left; order is VER, HAM, BOT, GAS, ALB, SAI, OCO, NOR, VET, RIC
HAM 1:19.702
ALB P4
VET P8
GAS P5
RIC P7
OCO P3
Chequered flag; order is HAM, VER, OCO, BOT, ALB, GAS, SAI, RIC, VET, NOR
SAI P3
VER spins in the final turn!
NOR P5
HAM 1:19.273
Front of the grid: HAM, VER, SAI, BOT, OCO, NOR, ALB, GAS, RIC, VET
Replay of VER’s last lap slide – was he distracted by VET pitting?

Provisional grid: HAM, VER, SAI, BOT, OCO, [NOR*] ALB, GAS, RIC, NOR, VET, LEC, RUS, STR, KVY, MAG, RAI, PER, LAT, GIO, GRO
There’s still an incident for the stewards to review: incident involving LEC and STR from Q2

They really need to give the drivers a headset for the interviews
VER said visibility is terrible even when 6secs behind a car; “I think in the dry we can have a good shot at it.”
HAM “I had one big moment, I aquaplaned and I definitely had my heart in my mouth. I love these days!”
SAI “I’m going to have Alex, Valtteri behind so it will be a fun first few laps.”