What the teams said – Qualifying in Styria
Verstappen might have not managed the clean sweep in practice by coming home behind Hamilton in the final session, but he was clearly oozing confidence and once qualifying started it was easy to see why. He looked imperious from the off, and grabbed his second consecutive pole and first at his team’s home track with ease. As for Perez, he hasn’t been on the pace of the Dutchman all weekend and was forced to run used tyres at the start of Q3. He did manage fifth on his fresh set, and inherits fourth thanks to Bottas’ penalty so is still going to be in the fight tomorrow.
Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:03.841
“It is of course a great result to take the team’s first pole position at our home track and I feel very good about that. We made a big step forward in qualifying this year and although the car has been competitive and pretty easy to set-up all weekend we still made some good changes for qualifying. From my side, the first lap in Q3 felt pretty good. Around here you don’t have many corners but it is actually quite hard to nail the lap because of the braking up to Turn 3 and 4 where it is easy to lose a tenth if you make a tiny mistake.
"When I started driving in F1 this was always one of the tracks that I felt good at and as there aren’t many corners the driver can make a big difference, which I like. Some tracks are pretty straight forward on how you take corners but here there are a few options for that which makes it more enjoyable. I expect it will be super tight again tomorrow. We know Mercedes have a strong race car and they are pretty good on the tyres so it will be very close, which I think is also good for the fans and the way everyone likes it.”
Sergio Perez, 5th, 1:04.168
“I’m a bit disappointed with qualifying today, especially Q1, as I think it really compromised our session. We had to use a second set of tyres for the second run in Q1 as I wasn’t totally happy with the balance on the first run. Then for my first lap in Q3 I was on used tyres and it was looking pretty good but when we went on to the new tyre it was a very complicated lap and I did not improve as much as I hoped.
"We just have to analyse what happened there on the first run and go from there, especially as the margins are extremely tight here and the midfield are also right up there. We still have a very good strategy in place for tomorrow, starting on the softs, and there’s a long race ahead and still plenty to play for so I’m looking forward to it. I believe we can have a good solid race. Well done to Max today too, he’s done a great job.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“It was another great Team performance today, securing our first pole position at the Red Bull Ring. Max did a great job once again, completing two laps in Q3 that were quick enough for pole and achieving his first back-to-back pole positions. After a clean run for Max in Q1 we elected to put him on the medium tyre in Q2 and he made it through with ease. Checo found more and more time each session, electing to take the soft tyre for Q2 which gives us a strategic difference between cars for the race tomorrow and an optimal starting strategy. A strong run on Checo’s first set of scrubbed soft tyres in Q3, and an improvement on his new set means he will now start P4 tomorrow after Valtteri’s grid penalty is applied. Checo needs to get past Lando quickly, which I think he can, and then we need to try and put pressure on Lewis in order to maximise the race result. One thing is for sure, it will be a closely fought battle at the front.”
After trailing their rivals yesterday, Mercedes bounced back in Final Practice, with Hamilton topping the session. But any advantage they might have thought they had was eradicated in qualifying, with both drivers seemingly a few tenths off Verstappen on the soft compound tyres. They did both make it through Q2 on the mediums so have a good starting tyre, but didn’t have the pace today for pole. Mistakes from Hamilton on his last flying lap luckily weren’t punished by those behind, while Bottas falls down the order thanks to that three-place grid drop.
Lewis Hamilton, 3rd, 1:04.067
"Firstly, well done to Max - they have been so fast this weekend and they've had two tenths on us through every session. I have been giving it absolutely everything but it just wasn't the greatest of qualifying sessions for me today. Nevertheless, it's still the front row after the penalty and we live to fight another day - we're there with the Red Bulls at the start so let's see what we can do, it makes for an exciting race.
"I'm proud of everyone's hard work, and for continuing to push, we're still in the fight and we've done a good job given the circumstances. I'm going try and enjoy my evening, gather my thoughts and come back strong tomorrow."
Valtteri Bottas, 2nd, 1:04.035
"Today was about maximising the situation, trying to forget the penalty and just be perfect in everything you do. I think it was a good qualifying session, we worked well as a team together to find a good set-up and the changes we made gave me a better feeling in the car than I had in Practice. The lap was good, I don't think there was another two-tenths to find with our package today so I think we maximised what we could.
"The medium should be the better race tyre for our car, even though the soft runners around me will have a small advantage at the start. The key will be to get past them quickly tomorrow - obviously I'd rather start second than fifth but it is what it is, I need to deal with the consequences. It will be close with Red Bull, so far this season they've had the edge in qualifying and it's been tight in the races so we're looking forward to it."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Overall, I think our qualifying result was probably a big better than we expected after practice. Valtteri made a strong recovery from a tricky Friday and did a good job of damage limitation for his penalty - he will start P5 tomorrow and has a good opportunity running the medium tyre in the opening stint. On his side, Lewis had strong runs and looking at the data, it's not clear where he'd have been able to eke out any more time this afternoon. We ran a slightly unusual session, with Valtteri doing three runs in Q2, while Lewis did the same on the soft tyres in Q3. That allowed us to squeeze everything out of the car and control the pace of our out laps in the best way to manage the tyres for our car. Both drivers will be starting on medium tomorrow and we have generally raced stronger than we have qualified this season. I think we have a quick race car and a few different options on the strategy. It's going to be an exciting afternoon of tough racing - and the weather might play a part, too. I'm looking forward to it!"
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"It felt like pole was just out of our reach today but the drivers did a good job and we ran the session well so we can't be too disappointed. Valtteri recovered from a difficult afternoon yesterday and did a good job to get second. It's a shame that he's got the three-place penalty but he did everything possible to put him in a strong position for the race tomorrow and has a lot of opportunities being surrounded by soft runners. Lewis has had an interesting weekend exploring new setup directions which has ultimately benefited both drivers. No doubt he'll have felt there was a little pace in there but we've got a good opportunity tomorrow from the front row and a car that was working well on the long run on Friday. It should be an interesting race with a few different strategies and that's even before we factor in the weather which could be quite exciting."
A really mixed day down at McLaren, with Ricciardo at a complete loss to explain where his Friday pace went. He was way down the field in FP3 and although he made Q2 come qualifying, he could go no further. His team mate though looked far more comfortable and even had brief spells at the top of the leader board. He had to use the soft tyre in Q2 so starts on that compound, but what a place to start from. Third when Bottas’ penalty is applied, Norris is well placed to follow up his strong results here last season.
Daniel Ricciardo, 13th, 1:04.808
“Not the best day, I don’t really know why. Obviously yesterday was good and the afternoon was really encouraging. We just lost a lot of pace overnight with this morning being quite slow and then quali was a similar story. Bit of a strange one at the moment. Yesterday looked really promising, so it’s a shame. I would never have expected to be P13. We’ll try to understand it and have a strong race tomorrow.”
Lando Norris, 4th, 1:04.120
“A very good quali – P3 in the end. The car felt good throughout all of qualifying, I was confident and could always make the small improvements needed. That gave us P3, which is nice – especially to be only two-and-a-bit-tenths off pole. A lot of positives and a very good position for us to score some solid points tomorrow, but it’s a long race and that’s where the points are. That’s the important thing.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“P4 in quali today – translating into starting P3 tomorrow – is the best grid position we’ve achieved so far this year. Well done to Lando, who was flying on every single lap he did, and to the team for a clean execution of the quali session. Of course, Daniel and ourselves are disappointed we couldn’t progress further than P13 with his car. This is something we'll analyse, reset and go again tomorrow with the clear objective to get back into the points. “That aside, it was great to see the one-lap performance we had in the car today. Big thank you to everyone here at the track and back home for working very hard to make this happen. We’re looking forward to another exciting race. The aim is clear: we want to keep scoring good points for our battle in the Constructors’ Championship.”
AlphaTauri have looked strong whenever they have managed to get both cars on track here, and in even better news their rookie managed what was looking like a clean session. Unfortunately, despite making the top 10 and giving a good account of himself, Tsunoda was later penalised three grid places for impeding Bottas during that Q3 segment. Gasly meanwhile, is making top six grid slots something of a speciality, this his sixth in eight races.
Pierre Gasly, 6th, 1:04.236
“I’m really pleased with today. We knew it wouldn’t be an easy day, after losing FP2 yesterday, but the car has been amazing all weekend and I was confident going into Qualifying. I think we have showed that this afternoon, we managed to get through Q2 with just one set of tyres which is really good for us, and we’re just a few tenths off the front row. I’m really happy with all the work the team have been doing and the improvements we’re continuing to make each weekend. It’s exciting times for us and shows we just need to keep pushing, everything is possible and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 8th, 1:04.514
“I think the car has been good this weekend and I’ve made a strong step up. I started Qualifying with an easier approach and then developed my lap as I went through each session. My final push wasn’t perfect but I’m happy to make it through to Q3 and it’s a positive move in the right direction for me. Unfortunately, I am now starting tomorrow from P11, but dry weather isn’t guaranteed for the race, so we’ll plan for a variety of situations tonight and see what happens.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“Today has been very productive for both sides of the garage. The package is continuing to work well and respond to the set-up changes made to try and squeeze a bit more performance out of it in what is a very tight midfield. Pierre and his crew have done a good job to recover from the running they missed yesterday, this has culminated in a strong Qualifying performance and a well-deserved grid position for tomorrow’s race. Yuki and his side of the garage have shown good pace today as well, working through their FP3 programme and then putting it all together to deliver a solid Qualifying performance. It’s a pity that he has received a penalty, but the points are scored tomorrow and, with the weather forecast currently predicting a reasonable chance of rain, we must stay focused on the preparations for the race. We must give ourselves the best opportunity to deliver on the potential shown so far and also demonstrate the hard work everybody has put in both trackside and back in Faenza & Bicester. The target is simple, we need to be scoring points with both cars to give ourselves the best chance of consolidating our Championship position in what is a very competitive midfield.”
Admitting yesterday that this was something of an experimental weekend for them, it was no surprise that Ferrari weren’t up at the sharp end of the grid. Sainz couldn’t even make the top 10 after seeing his lap time deleted for track limits in Q2 – but it wouldn’t have been enough anyway. Leclerc did squeeze into Q3 and found something more like his usual form in nabbing seventh on the grid. But all the question marks remain over whether they can get on top of their tyre issues come race day.
Charles Leclerc, 7th, 1:04.472
"P7 is not the ideal starting position, but it was in line with our expectations. Our race pace has been pretty solid this weekend, and we did not want to sacrifice it for a slightly better qualifying result. Tomorrow is what counts, and if our pace is as good as it has been so far this weekend, I am confident that we can gain some positions and bring home some good points.
"I am very happy with my lap and put everything I had into it without making mistakes. It was difficult with the traffic, especially in Q1. Then, in Q3, we decided to put on new tyres out of sync with the others to run in free air.
"We have worked well and I feel confident in the car. We will prepare as well as possible for tomorrow and hopefully we can have a good one."
Carlos Sainz, 12th, 1:04.800
"This was not such a good day. Yesterday we struggled with our one-lap pace, so we were not expecting miracles. Qualifying outside the top ten is not ideal, but with such a tight field on such a short track you have to nail all three sectors and I was missing a bit in sector 2. There’s some consolation in the fact that I have a free choice of tyre compound on which to start and we will try and make the most of that. Yesterday, our long run pace was not bad, so I hope I can get a good result.
"This afternoon is not the end of the weekend and we’ll fight until the very last lap to get the best result possible."
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director
"As expected, this was a difficult session. Compared with what we have seen so far on Saturday afternoons, we were unable to reproduce our usual performance level over a single flying lap. We tackled this Grand Prix with a slightly different approach to usual, working mainly towards the race after the problems we encountered last week in France. That’s not a mitigating factor, because I don’t think we could have done much better than this, looking at the performance of our main rivals, but it is something to bear in mind when looking at today’s results. From what we saw yesterday, our long run pace is not bad compared to our closest competitors and we will try and exploit that tomorrow afternoon.
"Every day of this season is an opportunity to improve and to help make the team strong and today was no exception, an additional experience to make the most of, for the short and the long term."
Alpine had looked to be in strong form here, but in a very similar pattern to France last week, could only get one car into the top 10. Once again it was Alonso – who seems to have hit his stride now in qualifying – who managed to make Q3. The Spaniard is on a run of three straight top 10 starting berths, all at the expense of his team mate. Speaking of whom, at least in France Ocon made Q2 – here he exited at the first time of asking and could have a long afternoon of it tomorrow if the conditions stay dry.
Esteban Ocon, 17th, 1:05.217
“We’re not happy with today and exiting qualifying in Q1 is not where we should be. We need to regroup, keep analysing and see what’s going on to improve our performance as it was not enough today. It’s been a difficult weekend so far, but we gave it our maximum on both push laps. The lap time just wasn’t there and that’s something we need to understand. We race tomorrow and we will give it our best and see what we can do.”
Fernando Alonso, 9th, 1:04.574
“It was a stressful qualifying with no room for mistakes, thanks to the close gaps and track limits at the last two corners. There is always room to improve but I am very happy with getting into the top 10 again and finishing ninth. It gives us the possibility to score some good points tomorrow. Our forecast suggests it might rain so it is a little bit unknown heading into the race, but we are ready for whatever conditions.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“Fernando did a good job and we achieved our target of getting into Q3. He also seemed to enjoy qualifying, particularly in Q2 when he put together a very strong lap. Unfortunately, we couldn’t use this potential with Esteban, and we need to analyse and understand the information to get in better shape for tomorrow. We need to take every opportunity in the race with both cars; the weather could be changeable, and the field is so tight that there is every hope of a good finish.”
The team had looked good all through the three practice sessions, so it was something of a surprise to see Vettel drop out in Q2, although the German did lose a lap time to track limit infringements. Stroll saved the team’s blushes by making Q3 but with only one set of new soft tyres at his disposal, could only put his AMR21 into 10th. With those behind getting free tyre choice, he could find himself in a vulnerable position tomorrow.
Sebastian Vettel, 14th, 1:04.875
“I struggled to put the laps together today and when the grid is so tight [on a short lap] it can be quite costly. So I am not so happy after today’s qualifying and I need to try to understand why I did not find the rhythm. It feels like we lost a bit of time everywhere, rather than just one corner. There can still be a good race ahead for us and I am confident we will have decent race pace tomorrow. We have a free choice of tyres and it is a track where overtaking is possible.”
Lance Stroll, 10th, 1:04.708
“It is a good feeling to be back in Q3, especially when it happens after such a tight qualifying. It was good fun out there and I think 10th [now ninth due to a rival’s penalty] was the most we could achieve today. It has been a smooth weekend so far. From the first laps in FP1, I have felt really good in the car and it has given me the confidence to really push because the balance has been consistent in every session. We have shown competitive pace in the last couple of races, so I think we can fight for some good points tomorrow. Anything can happen, especially with the weather, so let’s see how it plays out.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“Lance did a superb job today, fast in Q1 and Q2, thereby moving smoothly through to Q3. He will start tomorrow’s race from P9, from which position a strong points-scoring drive will be his aim. Sebastian struggled with understeer in Q2, as a result running wide in the final turn on his fastest lap, which caused it to be disallowed for a track limits infringement. But for that, he would not have gone through to Q3 anyway, but he would have been classified 12th rather than 14th.”
Raikkonen hasn’t looked on the pace of his team mate here and so it proved, the Finn getting out of shape and managing a trip through the gravel as he exited at the first time of asking. Giovinazzi made Q2 and experimented with the medium compound tyre, but in the end lacked the pace both on that and on the softs to progress.
Kimi Raikkonen, 18th, 1:05.429
“I didn’t manage to make one good lap and this is the end result. It’s not what we want, of course, but that’s how it is. It’s not going to be easy to start where we are but we’ll see tomorrow what we can make of it.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 15th, 1:04.913
“We were quite confident coming into today so P15 is not really what we expected. We had a really strong Friday but today the other teams seem to have found a little bit more than us. I put together a good lap but unfortunately that was not enough to get into Q3. I’m still optimistic for tomorrow, though: our race pace didn’t look bad yesterday and this is a track where you can overtake. We need to focus on the race, see what weather we’re going to get. We know we can get close to the top ten and fight for points.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“After the really strong results in the three practice sessions, this afternoon’s result leaves us with a bit of a mixed feeling. On the one hand, we continue our streak of Q2 appearances, and we know how close we were to the cars in front: Antonio was a little more than a tenth away from P12 and that would have looked a lot better than P15, but so are things around such a track. Kimi will have his work cut out tomorrow, but we’ve seen how quickly fortunes can change around here so there’s still all to fight for. We will need to be sharp tomorrow, and if the race is not dry anything can truly happen.”
With Russell’s first effort in Q1 looking decidedly ropey, it looked like Latifi might finally break his duck and out-qualify his team mate. But the Englishman pulled a quick lap out of the bag as he often does to make Q2, as the Canadian exited in P16. Once in that second segment, Russell came alive and wrestled his Williams all the way up to 11th to equal his career-best qualifying. The gap to the top 10 was an agonisingly close 0.008s in the end, too.
George Russell, 11th, 1:04.671
"I was pushing to my absolute limits in qualifying and the car really came alive when it mattered, so the lap felt really strong. It’s frustrating when we were so close to Q3, eight thousandths of a second really is nothing, but we’ll have tyre choice in P11 tomorrow so that’s a good place to be. The team is putting a lot of effort into race pace at the moment, so to still get a great result on Saturday is very pleasing. We’re here on merit today; we did a good job and the car is feeling strong. There’s no reason why we can’t keep the others behind us tomorrow, I’m not looking in my mirrors, I’m looking forward, and I want to get inside that top 10."
Nicholas Latifi, 16th, 1:05.175
"Yesterday I wasn’t feeling very confident, but we’ve made a lot of progress coming into today and the car improved quite a bit. It’s frustrating to miss out on Q2 by such a small margin, but my second lap was a very competitive one, so I was happy with that. During my final run I lost some time in the last sector coming up behind traffic; that can block your line of sight going into such high-speed corners, so I got a bit out of shape there. Overall, a frustrating result, but there are a lot of positives to take into the race tomorrow."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Following the heavy overnight rain, we were concerned that the track might be in poor condition this morning, but the tyres were working well, and we were pleased with our opening runs. Some traffic issues on the final runs meant that we looked slower than we thought we really were, but this offered some useful learning ahead of qualifying.
"The short lap here makes traffic difficult and of course means that the field lap times are heavily compressed. In Q1 Nicholas started very strongly and used his three-run strategy very well. Some traffic on his final effort cost him the crucial time required to qualify for Q2. In contrast, George had a tougher first run as he aimed for multiple laps. However, he held his nerve expertly and delivered an excellent final effort in Q1. Having qualified for Q2, he had two new Soft tyres to use and this enabled him to make more progress with each run. For the final run he had a good track position, which he used very well and finished just short of Q3. However, claiming 11th place on the grid, and with a free choice of start tyre, he is in a strong position for tomorrow."
A spin for Mazepin in FP3 didn’t prove costly, as he managed to keep clear of the barriers. With both drivers therefore having a good haul of laps under their respective belts, they were well placed to slug it out in qualifying. In the end though, Williams made a step forward and that left the Haas drivers with no one to fight but each other, Schumacher coming out on top in the intra-team battle.
Mick Schumacher, 19th, 1:06.041
“Everybody improved a lot in that last run, and I don’t know how much we would’ve improved. Thinking that we would’ve, we would be around P17, P16 which would’ve brought us closer and maybe into contention for Q2. It’s unfortunate but it’s been a very good weekend up until now. We’ve had very good Free Practice sessions and now we need to do a bit more in the race. Hopefully race pace will be enough to keep up with the guys and win some battles.”
Nikita Mazepin, 20th, 1:06.192
“The weather is quite warm. The track temperature has gone up since FP3 however not too much, as we had very similar car balance in those two sessions with no surprises - but no negative surprises as well which I think is quite okay. T9 is reasonably simple. If you have too much understeer, you’re never going to keep within the white lines with the speed that’s necessary to carry. We added some front flap and I’ve kept it on track ever since. I was using FP1, FP2 and FP3 to try things that had no guarantee of working and to be honest they didn’t work, so we’ve come back to an original starting set up and things were as we expected.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Obviously, the result is not what we like, but it is what it is – as I continue to say week in and week out now. I think over the weekend we’ve made progress, as much as you cannot see it as we’re where we were a few weeks ago on the timesheets. But we keep on learning, keep getting things done, and the day will come when we have better results.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"In qualifying, we experienced the warmest temperatures of the weekend so far, but some very close margins as well as some variations in strategy, which means that the top two and Bottas will start on the medium tyre, with the rest of the top 10 on the soft. This will make for a lively start tomorrow, and it will be also interesting to see if Red Bull is able to take advantage of a split strategy with their two cars. There are forecasts of storms for tomorrow, which could have a decisive impact on the action. Otherwise, we're expecting a one-stop race, with a few different potential ways to approach it".