Max Verstappen takes pole ahead of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz
Both Mercedes cars crash out in Q3
Leclerc fastest in Q2 ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton
Ricciardo out in Q1, Norris in 15th in bad day for McLaren
Things were finally looking up for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes heading into the final part of qualifying for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. But their hopes of challenging for a first win of the season at the Red Bull Ring evaporated into the Styrian air in a disastrous 14 minutes.
Hamilton and team-mate George Russell both crashed out in Q3, as championship leader Max Verstappen took a last-gasp pole position from under the nose of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Two red flags came out after each crash, and both Mercedes drivers could only look on as their rivals battled for pole position in the closing minutes.
Cautious optimism at Mercedes had been in place all weekend in Austria, after such a strong showing at the British Grand Prix last weekend. The upgraded W13 at Silverstone helped Hamilton to third position in front of an adoring home crowd. It could have been more.
Hamilton said as much heading into this weekend. “There really is potential in the car... with a little bit more digging and hard work hopefully we can get closer. I truly believe we can get a race win this year.”
The mood was a notable departure from just four weeks ago when Russell and Hamilton finished more than 45 and 71 seconds respectively behind Verstappen in Azerbaijan. Hamilton struggled out of his car due to the aggressive bouncing over the Baku bumps.
Although the Spielberg track was not expected to suit the W13 as much as Silverstone, there were promising signs on track for the team and in particular Hamilton. Indeed for much of the hour-long qualifying session, the seven-time champion looked in with a real chance of battling the Ferrari of Leclerc and the Red Bull of Verstappen for pole position. Top spot may have been a step too far given the form Verstappen is in, but a top-three start for Saturday’s 24-lap sprint race - which sets the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix - was likely with last weekend’s top two of Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz struggling to trouble their team-mates.
Yet those hopes ended with an uncharacteristic Hamilton mistake. After appearing to abort his first run in Q3, Hamilton had to make his second hot lap count. But he did not. Towards the end of the lap he lost the rear end of his car at Turn Seven and in trying to correct it could only divert his car nose-first into the gravel and then sideways into the barriers.
Hamilton was apologetic on the team radio for the damage as the session was red flagged. Without setting a competitive time in the session he will start ninth, moving up a place after Perez had all his Q3 laps deleted as a punishment for a track limits infringement in Q2.
Yet things got worse still for Mercedes as the session restarted with a little more than two minutes on the clock. Their hopes of setting a competitive time rested on Russell, but he followed Hamilton into the barriers, this time at Turn 10. He lost the rear at the final corner and went backwards into the barriers, like his team-mate causing extensive damage to the car.
The positive is that both Hamilton and team principal Toto Wolff were encouraged by the team’s outright pace, despite the double crash.
"I am encouraged for sure, I am encouraged of course to see our performance. We weren't expecting for it to be as close as that today,” Hamilton said. Wolff, meanwhile, said that things were “slowly coming together”.
After both Mercedes drivers' sessions ended in crashes, the climax returned to a battle familiar to this season, with a shoot-out between Red Bull and Ferrari.
When Leclerc found himself more than a 10th down on Verstappen’s previous best time after one sector, hopes of another pole position seemed faint. But the Monegasque driver managed to claw all of that and more back, crossing the line to take provisional pole with a time of 1:04.923.
As Carlos Sainz slotted into second soon after, the only person who could deny Leclerc a seventh pole position of the season was Verstappen. And on a track where he has won four times and generally excels, the Dutchman crossed the line to secure first spot on the grid for Saturday’s sprint race by just 0.029sec.
“In the end it was a very tight qualifying. It’s a really challenging track to get everything right. I’m very happy to have pole but Saturday and Sunday is when you get the points,” Verstappen said afterwards.
“I think we have a great car. Qualifying is not our strongest point. It’s incredible to see the crowd here and see so much orange. It definitely puts a smile on my face.”
This may as well be a home race for the Dutchman. The track is owned and named after Red Bull and in recent years tens of thousands of orange-clad fans descend on the Styrian hills from the Netherlands to revel in their hero’s successes. Or, as was the case on Friday, in the misfortune of his 2021 rival Hamilton, with huge cheers going up as he climbed out of his wrecked Mercedes.
Leclerc did not sound so optimistic after his lap, and spoke as much about avoiding the persistent mistakes that he thinks he and his team are making.
“I just want to have a clean race. It's been five races that have been a bit of a disaster on my side. I hope it will be clean and we can finally score the points we deserve,” he said.
Austrian Grand Prix qualifying classification
Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1min 04:984secs
Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:05.013,
Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:05.066
Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:05.404*
George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:05.431
Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:05.726
Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:05.879
Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:06.011
Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:06.103
Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:13.151
Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:06.160
Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:06.230
Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:06.319
Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:06.851
Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:25.847
Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:06.613
Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:06.847
Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:06.901
Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:07.003
Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:07.083
*Perez will drop down to 13th after having all of his Q3 lap times deleted for a track limits infringement in Q2
Austrian Grand Prix qualifying: As it happened
The back of Russell's car
Fair to say that the fans here are pretty happy
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 8, 2022
Q3 - Top 10
MAX VERSTAPPEN TAKES POLE POSITION FOR THE 2022 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX!
It's 0.029s in it but Verstappen does it! Less than a tenth between the top three men but it's Verstappen on pole.
The orange smoke from the flares emerge and descend across the track. Superb lap from Verstappen. Pulled it out of the bag in the final sector.
Q3 - Leclerc crosses the line...
And goes fastest! Verstappen has to improve!
What can Sainz do? Second!
Verstappen going well here, can he do it?
Q3 - Leclerc is 0.127s down on Verstappen after one sector
He can get some of that back... or most of it... but all of it?
Verstappen is 0.057s off his previous fastest. So the track doesn't appear to be improving. Or the times do not at least.
Q3 - Final runs under way
It's between Leclerc and Verstappen you would expect. Sainz and Perez have seemed fairly distant so far this weekend.
Here we go...
Q3 resumes - Just a little over two minutes to go
Eight cars out on track only, none of them a Mercedes.
Russell is being investigated: confirmed
Earlier the incident was just noted.
Russell is being investigated, I think
Turn 10 incident involving car 63 (RUS) noted - entering the track without permission.
I think maybe he walked across the track to the pit lane. That seems to be the most likely explanation.
Session will resume in five minutes.
Order under the red flag
It hasn't changed, but just to remind you.
ALO (no time)
MSC (no time)
He actually went into the barrier a bit harder than it initially appeared. Lost it at turn 10. Lost the rear and went backwards into the barriers.
What was looking like a potentially promising session for Mercedes has evaporated.
There should be enough time for the drivers to get a quick lap in, it's a short out lap.
Q3 - What can Russell do?
It's aggressive, but not very quick. More than four-tenths off after two sectors....
Now he spins and goes backwards into the barriers! Not at high speed but that will be another RED FLAG.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 8, 2022
Q3 - Four minutes remain
That should be Hamilton in 10th tomorrow, barring any penalties etc.
Russell begins a hot lap earlier than anyone else. Alonso is also out there, but it's a pretty clear track.
Q3 - Session resumes
Five minutes remain, just over. Think this means we are going to see the same front row we've had for most of the year...
I think Hamilton could have been in with a shot of the front row here.
Q3 - Current order under the red flag
Was a poor session from Hamilton, who appeared to make a mistake in his first run too. Did not set a representative lap.
ALO (no time)
MSC (no time)
Hamilton got a bit twitchy at turn seven...
...tried to correct but couldn't recover and went nose-first into the barriers. Well, almost. It was more sideways. Nose-first into the gravel and then sideways into the barriers.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 8, 2022
Q3 - Looks like Hamilton has made a mistake in the second sector
"I'm so sorry guys. I'm so sorry to damage the car."
It's at turn seven.
Hamilton is in the wall!
Q3 - Top 10 after the first laps
ALO (no time)
MSC (no time)
Doesn't look like Hamilton has done another hot lap here. Must have been a mistake then.
Q3 - Verstappen goes fastest ahead of Leclerc!
There's less than a tenth in it... Sainz in third and Perez in fourth. Russell fifth.
Q3 - Hamilton also up on Sainz after one sector...
But Verstappen is a tenth quicker than Hamilton at the same point... oof.
Russell crosses the line with 1:05.452 which Leclerc beats by 0.269s.
What happened to Hamilton? He abandons that lap and finishes seven seconds off. Odd.
Q3 - Right, who has this one?
Hamilton is starting his hot lap.
He sets a 16.528 in sector one, a little quicker than Russell. Leclerc is more than a tenth slower...
Perez turn eight incident for track limits will be investigated after the session
Hmmm. Will he lose his time and this his place in Q3? What does that mean, then? That Gasly should be in Q3? Weird.
12 minutes, 10 drivers and one man on pole (for the sprint race).
Okay, that is interesting, I think
Close between Leclerc and Verstappen. Hamilton knocking around not too far away from them and ahead of Sainz. May well change in Q3 with fresher tyres.
Q2 - Top 10
Q2 ENDS - Leclerc fastest
Here's who is out: GAS, ALB, BOT, TSU, NOR. Bad weekend for McLaren so far.
Q2 - Final laps being completed
Verstappen into second, with a time a tenth quicker than Hamilton.
Norris has backed off, Gasly not improving. Norris failed to get a representative lap in.
Q2 - Perez trying to dig himself out of the drop zone
Just moments left here...
What can he do? He's in 13th but goes sixth! Albon in 11th now and I think that is that for him. Decent, though, if he doesn't drop down too much.
Q2 - The AlphaTauris not going too well at the moment
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 8, 2022
Has been a difficult season for them.
Q2 - Two minutes remain, Leclerc leads Hamilton
Verstappen has just gone out again. Norris actually has that lap deleted, so stays 15th and not 13th. Was scrappy in any case.
Q2 - Norris trying to improve and get out of Q2
But it's not looking great for that.
Leclerc moves fastest by 0.188s over Hamilton.
Norris locked up at turn three... and stays only 13th. Behind even Albon.
Q2 - Most cars in their garages now
Here's how it stands:
Q2 - Perez had his lap time deleted
Alonso the best of the rest outside of the top two teams. Perez needs to get his laps together.
Q2 - Not entirely sure who is on used soft tyres so far in this session
Six minutes remain.
In the drop zone: PER, ALB, GAS, NOR, TSU
Q2 - Magnussen into sixth
Mick Schumacher about to finish his lap and he goes sixth to beat his team-mate. Scored his first points at Silverstone last time out.
Q2 - Top 10 and gaps
That's another improvement by Hamilton. Not a great deal, but an improvement.
Q2 - 10 mins remain
Albon into seventh, and not too far off Perez, who is struggling at the moment.
Q2 - Lock up for Norris at turn four
Perez does similar. But they both manage to keep it on the hard stuff, just about.
Q2 - Good lap from Russell
Quicker than both Ferraris... and into second.
But it's an even better lap by Hamilton! He goes faster than Verstappen and fastest overall by 0.030s. Lovely.
Q2 - Ferraris running well early on
Very early on. Leclerc sets a 1:05.774, though Verstappen beats that by two tenths. Feel like that's the way of things this weekend. And maybe even for the rest of the season.
GREEN LIGHT: Q2 begins
You know the drill. 15 minutes. 15 drivers. 10 to go through, five out.
That is actually Stroll's best qualifying since Miami
His recent run: 18th, 18th, 19th, 18th, 20th and now 17th. Bad.
"Ah man that's painful"
That is Vettel's response to his elimination. P20. Painful indeed. Nearly a tenth off Latifi as well.
Q1 - Top 15
These men are through to Q2.
Q1 ENDS - Leclerc fastest
It's bad news for Daniel Ricciardo. He's out! Norris barely got any laps in in FP1. Awful for Aston Martin again, both drivers out. Stroll in 17th and Vettel in 20th.
Drivers out: RIC, STR, ZHO, LAT, VET
Q1 - Final runs under way
It's not looking good for Aston Martin...
Albon up into 14th! That's very decent. Daniel Ricciardo in trouble. Will he stay in the bottom five?
Q1 - Zhou trying to get out of danger
The top three cars - Leclerc, Sainz and Verstappen - are the only drivers not out. Presumably they think they are safe. And they surely are.
Q1 - Top 10 and gaps with final runs under way
Stroll's last lap put him into 15th and out of the drop zone. If he did get out of Q1 it would be the first time for a while...
Q1 - Three minutes remain
Norris gets himself into the top 10, 0.911s off Leclerc's fastest time.
Q1 - Verstappen goes a couple of tenths quicker than Hamilton
But then the Ferraris come up and pip them both, Leclerc the fastest of them all by 0.241s.
Norris, Latifi, Stroll, Albon and Vettel in the drop zone.
Q1 - Verstappen on another hot lap
He needs to. He's just had his lap deleted.
He's looking like going quickest overall now.
Q1 - Top 10 as it stands
Drivers in the drop zone: TSU, GAS, RIC, VET, VER
Q1 - Hamilton goes fastest!
Decent. 0.064s quicker than Perez and on the third lap of his run.
Q1 - Hamilton got it all wrong at turn three
Which explains some of the deficit. Current order upcoming. Hamilton goes fastest in the first sector on his next lap... he's 0.070s off after two sectors.
Q1 - Verstappen begins his first flying lap
Let's see what he can do...
He goes fastest by 0.046s ahead of his team-mate Perez.
Hamilton then goes ninth, four-tenths slower than Russell and nearly a second off the pace.
Q1 - Leclerc back into top spot
Sainz had a lap time deleted again? No. But maybe it was a clarification that he had his next lap time deleted rather than the one he was on.
Q1 - 12 mins remaining
Alonso now quickest, albeit for only a few moments as Kevin Magnussen and then Mick Schumacher beat it!
Q1 - Sainz has his lap deleted
Track limits at turn 10. So that's Leclerc fastest again.
Q1 - Sainz with the current fastest lap time
1:06.363, 0.399s quicker than team-mate Leclerc. Perez pops up into third, but 0.443s behind Sainz. All 20 cars out on track now.
Q1 - Both McLarens out early
Norris because he broke down in the first 20 minutes of FP1 and Daniel Ricciardo because, well, he probably needs to. Bad weekend at Silverstone last week.
GREEN LIGHT: Q1 begins
18 minutes. 20 drivers, five go out and 15 through.
Going to back Alonso for a cracking result today
— BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) July 8, 2022
10 minutes to go
Predictions? Have to say I am not optimistic that anyone will be able to beat Max Verstappen... that said, Ferrari have often managed to find a way.
Zhou Guanyu relives F1 horror crash: 'I feared my car was going to burst into flames with me in it'
Zhou Guanyu has revealed how he feared he would be trapped in a burning car after his horrifying crash at last weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Zhou, 23, became wedged between the tyre wall and catch fencing after a multi-car crash at the first corner during which his Alfa Romeo flipped over at high speed. He was ultimately able to walk away without even a minor injury.
Even more fans hyped up on Red Bull.. or something
Max Verstappen delivers barbed response to Lewis Hamilton's praise for Silverstone race
Red Bull driver remarked: 'I think it's quite nice that, at 37 years of age, you can still learn how to hit an apex'. Read the full story here.
The Verstappen mega-fans have been letting these orange flares off since early this morning
Current constructor standings
Haas had their best ever race weekend with a fourth and fifth a few years ago. Can they deliver this weekend? They have been underdelivering on their ultimate pace but had a double-points finish at Silverstone last weekend.
Current championship standings: Top 10
The scenery isn't too bad here
First practice classification
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 8, 2022
Good afternoon F1 fans
Welcome to our live coverage for qualifying for the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix. In case you had forgotten, this weekend is one of three sprint race weekends, where the format is a little different to the usual Formula One race weekends. Instead of the line-up of three practice sessions followed by qualifying and then the race it's one practice session, qualifying for the sprint race on Saturday, another practice session, the sprint race and then the grand prix itself on Sunday.
It certainly gives a different feel to the weekend but is it a better one? I think F1 have got it about right, with maybe three, four or five sprint race weekends feeling about right. Certainly this is a track where you can overtake so it has always seemed like a decent idea to do it here. It usually makes the order a little less predictable with a greater likelihood for a mixed up grid on the Sunday. It certainly seemed to help Daniel Ricciardo's win in Monza last year.
So far we have only had one hour of practice but the order of the session was perhaps what we were expecting, at least at the very top. Championship leader Max Verstappen topped the timesheets with a lap of 1:06.302. Ominously, though, he also completed more laps than anyone else at 34, appearing to run some race simulations towards the end of the session.
Behind Verstappen was Charles Leclerc of Ferrari (0.255s away) and then the lead Mercedes of George Russell, four tenths away. As much as we have had great racing and a close and thrilling finish at the front at Silverstone last weekend, we did not see the true potential of Verstappen due to the bodywork damage he suffered early on in the race. There was a danger - and likelihood - that he would have run away with it. And that, again, is the danger this weekend on a track where he excels.
The championship desperately needs a Ferrari fightback and it got that to some extent at Silverstone last weekend (with Mercedes back in the mix again). It would be a shame if Verstappen ran away with it this weekend. There is at least some chance of jeopardy throughout the field with the format, though. That may save us.