What the teams said – Qualifying in Styria
All eyes were on Hamilton at the start of what was a very wet qualifying session, and he didn’t disappoint. The reigning world champion grabbed pole by an astonishing 1.216s from arch-rival Verstappen, and that’s despite aquaplaning on his previous flying lap. Undeterred Hamilton kept his foot in when it mattered despite nigh on no visibility for another one of his ‘special’ laps. Bottas meanwhile had his worst qualifying here for Mercedes with fourth, which shows what an Austrian specialist he really is. He’ll be hopeful of picking up a podium at the very least tomorrow if the conditions dry up.
Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:19.273
"I'm grateful that we got to do qualifying - I love these days. The weather was incredibly difficult and challenging out there for all of us. A lot of the time you can't see where you are going. I had a big aquaplaning moment on my penultimate lap, so I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the final lap, nice and clean. After yesterday, the team did a great job looking into what was causing the problem and I felt confident going into today that it wouldn't be an issue even if it had been dry. Pole position is where I want to be starting the race from so I'm glad it was a trouble-free session; I didn't make any mistakes. That's always a positive and now I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Valtteri Bottas, 4th, 1:20.701
"It was not easy out there and I wasn't aiming to be anything but P1 today. But obviously tricky conditions can bring different challenges. For me, I don't think I managed to build enough temperature in the tyres and also my front-right brake was glazing throughout qualifying, so there was a split in temperatures across the front axle. That meant I couldn't really maximise the potential of the car under braking, which is important for confidence in the wet. It made for a tricky session and I'm disappointed with P4. But the second row is still within attacking range and tomorrow is a new day. We know how strong the car is in the race, so I'm looking forward to it."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"What a qualifying session. It was an absolutely stunning lap from Lewis and an incredible performance in very challenging conditions. I don't remember the last time somebody had a gap of 1.2 seconds to second place in qualifying. For Valtteri, the sessions all went pretty well, and he was competing for the front row throughout qualifying. But at the end, it didn't come together so we need to analyse why, because it certainly wasn't due to a lack of pace in him or the car. Tomorrow looks set to be dry, so we're excited to see what race day will bring. And congratulations to our juniors Esteban and George for two brilliant qualifying performances today, proving wet sessions are where the drivers really come to the fore."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"Well done to Lewis on a sensational pole lap! It was good to be able to get the session going, having missed the final practice session due to the rain. We've not had a wet qualifying since Spa in 2018, so everyone had to get up to speed pretty quickly. However, as far as wet qualifying sessions go, this one was straightforward as the tyre choice wasn't difficult - it was clear we had a set of wet tyres for each session. Both drivers did a good job of staying out of trouble in the early stages. We were just looking to keep up near the top of the timesheets and keep an eye on the weather, to push when the track looked to be quicker. The tyres were consistent throughout, times were going up and down a bit as the water levels changed, but there wasn't really any degradation so we could stay out for the entire session. Valtteri's session had started very well but he ended up with a bit of glazing on his front-right brake disc, which made life difficult for him on braking and getting heat into the tyres - and ultimately cost him. Lewis had an extremely strong final session. The conditions were worse than at any time in qualifying, but he just kept putting in purple laps and the final lap was simply amazing. Our focus is now on the race, which looks dry - for now. The wet qualifying has given us a free tyre choice on the grid so now that we know where everyone will line up, we can run simulations to understand the various opportunities that are presented by starting on soft or medium tyres. We also resisted the temptation to tune the car for the wet today, so hopefully we will have good pace tomorrow and can leave here with another good result."
There is only one driver truly capable of taking the fight to Hamilton over one lap in the wet and that is Verstappen. The Dutchman gave it a good go, interestingly taking a different line to the Mercedes through many corners. But he had a big moment on his final flying lap, getting on the kerbs and sliding across the track. That aside, he admitted he still didn’t quite have the beating of his rival today. As for Albon, he too looked decent in the wet but didn’t quite time his final flying lap and wound up seventh, which becomes sixth tomorrow thanks to Norris’ penalty.
Max Verstappen, 2nd, 1:20.489
“It was a tricky qualifying with the conditions but overall I’m pretty pleased with second on the grid. Q1 and Q2 were fine and I felt very comfortable but in Q3 it rained more and with the extra standing water we were struggling a bit more and I wasn’t as happy with the balance with a lot of oversteer. My final lap could of course have been a little better and I had a four wheel drift over the last kerb but still it would not have been good enough to beat Lewis. Let’s see tomorrow in the dry as it will be a different day and hopefully we will be quick enough to fight for the win. Starting on the front row gives us a good opportunity tomorrow to collect some good points and hopefully we can give Mercedes a hard time.”
Alex Albon, 7th, 1:21.011
“On my side that should have definitely been better. It was my mistake, I just went off on my last lap as the track was improving and getting quicker otherwise I think we could have been P3. I was maybe a bit happier with the car balance last weekend so we’ve got some work to do and we’ll study tonight. Looking ahead to tomorrow, our race pace is strong as we saw last week so let’s see what’s for the taking. We’ll have to be smart with the strategy as everyone knows what to expect tomorrow after last Sunday, so let’s see what we can do.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“Qualifying in these weather conditions is very tricky but Max did a great job. He lost a lot of time on his last lap when he came across Sebastian who was coming into the pits, otherwise he would have been a lot closer to Lewis but I don’t think he would have beaten him on that lap. So, Max starts in P2 for tomorrow’s race, and Alex in P6. The Team did a good job today, working with the drivers to help them because they can’t see what is going on around them with all the spray in these weather conditions. Tomorrow will come down to strategy and race pace so let’s hope we can convert these grid positions into good results, but I hope the rain clears and we see the Austrian sunshine return.”
Norris said his chest pains had improved overnight which was good to hear as the cars in orange set about beating their midfield rivals. Sainz played bridesmaid to his team mate last weekend but showed why Ferrari rate him so highly with third on the grid, keeping his nerve in extreme conditions for his best-ever qualifying. Norris was a still-impressive sixth, but will start ninth thanks to that grid-penalty for overtaking under yellow flags earned in FP1.
Carlos Sainz, 3rd, 1:20.671
“I’m very happy with P3, especially in these conditions! I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of driving in the wet and achieving my best-ever qualifying result today feels great. Towards the end of Q3 the track got even trickier and it wasn’t easy to judge where to take the bigger risks. Definitely the most exciting and stressful qualifying sessions I’ve done. Starting P3 tomorrow puts us in a great spot to fight for good points, but there is still a long way to go until the chequered flag. The race will be dry tomorrow so things can change quickly. We’ll prepare everything tonight and go for it tomorrow!”
Lando Norris, 6th, 1:20.925
"Qualifying was tough but I think it was good, to be honest. The car was nice, and I had good confidence to push, especially in Q1 and Q2. In Q3 we got a bit unlucky with where we were on track when the track was at its best, which is something to review. The team did a good job, the car was good, Carlos obviously did a good job and I should have done a better job from my side. It was nice to get out in the wet and do some driving. I’m still in a decent position for tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“Hats off and huge respect for the entire team and both drivers for a fantastic job today. P3 and P6 in a very difficult and very wet qualifying session is another confirmation that we have a great driver line-up, a great team and that we could make a good step with the car compared to last season.
“Carlos and Lando simply delivered and made the difference, doing a great job with keeping the cars on track and together with their engineers they always tried to find the right spots on the track to exploit the potential of the car and the lap times. A very impressive final lap of Carlos gives us our best genuine qualifying position since 2014.
“The team on the pit wall and the engineers did an excellent job with the tyre strategy throughout all sessions and this was key to our result. I also want to thank Renault who continue to ensure we’re able to maximise our package. The driveability of the power unit is a key element of achieving such a result in wet conditions.
“Lando’s grid penalty means we’re P3 and P9, which is still a good position for tomorrow to be able to go for points again. We expect a full dry race tomorrow. We go again.”
A second weekend, a second qualifying off the pace of their rivals, and off the pace of much of the midfield. Leclerc this time mirrored his team mate in exiting in Q2 as Vettel did last weekend, while the German himself could only manage P10 after aquaplaning on his final flying lap when the track was at its best. They should be more competitive in the race, based on their higher fuel runs from Friday, although a three-place grid penalty won't help matters for Leclerc.
Sebastian Vettel, 10th, 1:21.651
"I was glad qualifying wasn't delayed until forward to tomorrow, even though we were hoping for more. I think we tried everything we could but unfortunately it took too long to get the tyres, especially the fronts, up to working temperature. I was locking the fronts a lot and aquaplaning down the straight. On the last lap in Q3 I tried to risk everything, but I lost the car at Turn 8 and didn't manage to improve.
"At least it’s a lesson we have learned for the next time we face these conditions. The forecast is different for tomorrow and in the dry, our race pace looks a bit better, but we are still not where we want to be".
Charles Leclerc, 11th, 1:19.628
"We were just not quick enough today. When I look at the gap to the cars at the front, I am quite surprised. There’s definitely some work to do. In terms of balance, the car is nice to drive in the dry and in the wet it’s very similar. But yes, we’ve got some problems here and there that we need to solve and also I need to work on my driving in these conditions. Unfortunately, we had heavy rain when we went onto the second set of extreme wets in Q2, and we could not improve, which is a shame.
"I went for a more aggressive setup yesterday, which might have made my driving more unpredictable in the rain, so we paid the price today, but I am sure we’ve made the right choice for tomorrow and we’ll benefit from it."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
"A really disappointing day. We have to accept that the stopwatch doesn’t ever lie. In two qualifying sessions, albeit in different conditions, we have not been competitive, not only against those who have been our closest rivals over the past few years, but also against others, who up to yesterday were generally behind us.
"We worked very hard to bring updates to the car earlier than planned, but they didn’t show their worth on track. We have to work out why and change this state of affairs, which is just not good enough for a team by the name of Ferrari. We mustn’t get het up about it, but we cannot ignore the facts."
They are stunningly quick in the dry but not so much in the wet. Perez was the big name to fall in Q1 after struggling in the conditions, caught out as well by the late red flags for Giovinazzi’s spin. Stroll at least made Q2 in a rare moment of out-qualifying his team mate, but made a mistake on his final flying lap through the penultimate corner which cost him a chance of a top 10 position. Can those two scythe their way up through the field tomorrow in more benign conditions to rescue some points?
Sergio Perez, 17th, 1:21.607
“It’s a big shame to qualify P17 because we have shown that we have good potential this weekend. It was difficult to get the wet tyre up to temperature, but I was on for a good lap at the end of Q1 until the red flag stopped me improving. We’ll go away and learn from this, analyse the data and hopefully understand why we couldn’t maximise our potential today. It’s always challenging to make up places, but we have a good car underneath us and we’ve shown in the past that we can bounce back. Tomorrow is a new day and the target will be to score points.”
Lance Stroll, 13th, 1:19.645
“We were competitive throughout Q1 and Q2, but we lost some grip at the crucial moment in Q2 and just missed out on making Q3. We need to look into the causes of that overnight and we’ll make sure we come back stronger tomorrow in the race. We know we have a good car in dry conditions, so we can aim to make up places tomorrow and achieve our goal of scoring points.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“Ultimately a disappointing session when you consider the pace we have shown in the dry yesterday. Both drivers were not totally comfortable in these very wet conditions and that's something we need to understand. It’s the first occasion to run in the wet this year and it was a big learning experience for everybody. Sergio felt he couldn’t get enough temperature in the tyres early in the session and his final attempt was ruined by the red flag. Lance was comfortable in Q1 but complained about worse grip in Q2. In the end he was just a tenth shy of making Q3. There’s still plenty to play for tomorrow with dry conditions forecast. We have a quick car and a double points finish is still achievable.”
A better day for Renault after yesterday’s rebuild of Ricciardo’s car. Both drivers made it all the way to Q3 and for a while it looked as if the Aussie would prevail again in the intra-team rivalry. But Ocon nailed his last flying lap to end up a very impressive fifth on the grid, Renault’s best qualifying since Monza last year.
Esteban Ocon, 5th, 1:20.922
“It definitely feels great to be inside Q3 and even better to be inside the top five! The car felt great and I felt confident straight away in very challenging conditions. When there’s rain, I feel comfortable, so I’m very happy to put the car in that position. Everything went well, but there are always a few little things we can improve. We have a good car in the dry for the race, so for tomorrow I’m feeling good and hopefully we can have more of the same.”
Daniel Ricciardo, 9th, 1:21.192
“I’m glad we got to qualify in the end, and we’ll certainly take getting into Q3 especially after yesterday. I was a little bit off in the final session, it probably just got away from us a little bit. But, it’s great for the team to have both cars inside the top ten. It looks like I’ll gain a position with Lando’s penalty, so it’s not too bad. Again, I’d like to say thanks to my mechanics for fixing the car overnight and having it ready for qualifying. Tomorrow will be fun. The weather looks like it will be the opposite from today, so we’ll see what happens.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“It was a tricky session for everyone in the wet. The rain remained throughout all three sessions and in Q3 it became even heavier. Both of our drivers did a great job; staying out of trouble in those conditions and also comfortably reaching Q3. Esteban was unlucky to be pipped at the end, finishing in fifth place while running in the top three throughout. We know the job is not yet done and there’s a long way to go. We can be confident in the car tomorrow as we’ve shown great pace in the dry. Last week, it was a case of being stuck in traffic, so tomorrow, we need good starts from both drivers and then we can be confident in having a strong race.”
Gasly has looked the more comfortable of the two drivers here all weekend and so it proved in qualifying when he made it all the way to Q3. He will inherit a place thanks to Norris dropping down the grid with a penalty, and starting seventh will fancy another crack at some points. Kvyat struggled more in the wet conditions and wound up 14th.
Pierre Gasly, 8th, 1:21.028
“I’m super happy about today, it’s the first Q3 of the year and it’s only the second race of the season! I had a lot of fun driving in these conditions. It was tough but also really enjoyable and I think we really maximised our chances. It’s just a shame for the yellow flag in the last lap, as I think I was going two or three tenths faster, so there could probably have been a P5 on the table. However, we can be really pleased with our result today and we’ll be starting one position higher up the grid in P7 because of Norris’ penalty. We’ll have completely different conditions tomorrow, but we’ll be ready to fight and pick up some more points.”
Daniil Kvyat, 14th, 1:19.717
“It wasn’t as good as I thought it could be. After Q1 everything seemed ok but then in Q2 I could not find another step and I was sliding a lot. It was the first wet session in a while and I think I drove well, but that was not enough. I’m not happy with the result but I did my best. As for tomorrow, I do not know what to expect, I need a clean race and then hopefully I can score points. If there’s any opportunity there, I’ll do my best to take it.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“Today has given us a good opportunity to learn about our car in wet conditions and although it was challenging, we have been very competitive and gathered a lot of useful data. Q1 passed without incident but unfortunately in Q2 Dany did not manage to get the good clean lap at the right moment and could not progress to Q3 on this occasion. Pierre on the other hand did progress and was subsequently very competitive throughout Q3, securing a good starting position on tomorrow’s grid. The updates we introduced this weekend appear to have delivered on expectation and we look forwards to tomorrow’s race.”
Giovinazzi had the biggest moment of Q1, spinning off and into the barriers towards the end of the session. He briefly tried to bring the car home, but after shedding debris on the track wound up parking out on track which caused the red flags. That did for his team mate’s chances too, as no one was able to complete their flying laps.
Kimi Raikkonen, 16th, 1:21.372
“It’s disappointing to go out in Q1 because we had decent speed today, much better than last week, but in the end we couldn’t make it count. We had the potential for a good result and our times looked really good. I was setting some good laps at the beginning of the session but found some traffic, which was quite unlucky. I was left with all to play for on my last run, I was improving but then the red flag meant I couldn’t finish the lap. It’s a wasted opportunity, but we will try to make up places tomorrow. The conditions are likely to be different, it will be a different day: we’ll take it from there and do our best.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 19th, 1:21.831
“It’s been a difficult session, even though at the beginning of the session we were really strong. We needed something special on the final lap, I tried to push as much as I could to get the position but unfortunately I went onto the kerb at the second last corner, lost the rear a little bit and that was it. It’s a shame as I was improving my time by nearly a second and I think I would have made it to Q2. Tomorrow may be dry so we have completely different conditions to deal with. We start from the back, like last week, but just as we did last Sunday we will need to make the race work for us. We know we have the pace to recover so we won’t give up.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“We seem to have made a step forward in terms of performance, at least compared to last week, so to have both cars out in Q1 is a disappointment. We looked strong enough for Q2 but unfortunately we fell short with Antonio spinning on a very good lap and Kimi having his best lap ruined by the red flag. The conditions today were very difficult, but we have to be ready for whatever tomorrow is going to bring. We think we have the pace to fight for a place in the top ten, so we will need to be ready to show it come the race.”
He threatened it last week, and Russell finally managed his first Q2 appearance of his career in the wet conditions. As if that wasn’t enough, he wound up a very impressive 12th on the grid, only a tenth off Q3. It might take something heroic to be able to keep the out-of-position Racing Point cars behind tomorrow though. As for Latifi, he felt more was possible after being scuppered by those red flags, and starts 18th.
George Russell, 12th, 1:19.636
"Q2 was our target this weekend, but if someone told me it would be less than a tenth to Q3, I wouldn’t have believed that. It was incredibly tricky out there. I couldn’t see at many points, but I gave it everything I had, and it worked out. The car was feeling good and I had a lot of fun out there. I am really pleased for all the guys who come week in week out fighting. It is not quite the true pace of our car, but it’s a real boost for everyone in the team. Overall it was a great qualifying session, I am really happy and let’s see what we can do tomorrow."
Nicholas Latifi, 18th, 1:21.759
"The conditions out there were tricky, but I was surprised with how comfortable I felt as it was the first real wet session that I have been given the green light to push fully in. I am disappointed as we could have easily made it into Q2. My pace on the first set of tyres was in the top fifteen but I just didn’t get a clear lap on the second set. Every lap was either traffic or a yellow flag and then the red flag. I think there was much more in there, so I am just a bit frustrated."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"As forecast yesterday, the weather was poor today with a lot of rain from mid-morning onwards. This led to the cancellation of FP3 and for a while it looked like the qualifying session may also succumb to the rain. However, following an initial delay the session was run in full wet conditions.
"For those on the pitwall, this kind of session can be very difficult due to the sheer number of things that can happen, and the short lap length of Austria only makes this worse as the traffic backs up. However, on this occasion, we followed our plan very well and we used all our previous experience to give both drivers good opportunities to exceed the performance of the car.
"Both drivers drove exceptionally well in the conditions and both had very good pace throughout Q1. Neither have much experience of driving our cars in proper wet conditions, but both were superb today. Nicholas was extraordinarily unlucky with both a yellow flag and, later, a red flag spoiling laps that were comfortably good enough to qualify him for Q2. This was a big shame as we had the pace to get both cars close to the top 10 today, but we must accept that this is the nature of wet qualifying.
"George opted to start his session a little later and he was more fortunate with the flags. However, his pace was strong throughout and he fully deserved his place in Q2. For Q2 we had only one set of new tyres remaining and opted to fit them for the beginning of the session. This proved to be a good decision as conditions steadily worsened. Along with his own inherent pace, this decision helped him to outqualify Stroll and also to get extremely close to Leclerc.
"Tomorrow we are expecting a dry race and we think that the car will perform well in those conditions. With the help of the factory we have made a few changes to the cars since last weekend and we are now looking forward to racing hard throughout tomorrow as we aim to secure a strong top 10 finish."
They had a weekend to forget last time out and based on today, have their work cut out once again. Grosjean didn’t manage to set a time in qualifying, running wide through the gravel on his out lap before returning to the pits with a suspected water pump issue that curtailed his involvement. Magnussen did manage to make Q2 but could go no further than 15th, with the team keen to get a driver to the chequered flag after a double DNF last weekend. Can the Dane challenge for points? He might need his rivals to suffer reliability woes of their own if he is to progress.
Romain Grosjean, 20th, No time set
“We had a problem with the ERS water pump – it wasn’t working so we couldn’t recover any energy on the out lap I did. So, we couldn’t even do a lap. It’s a shame as it’s a missed opportunity I guess.”
Kevin Magnussen, 15th, 1:20.211
“It was good fun and I’m glad that they let us qualify in these conditions. There was a little bit of aquaplaning here and there, but it wasn’t a big problem. I’m happy they let us qualify today. For us, P15 is not a fantastic starting position, but I think it’s the best we could do – so I’m pretty happy with that. We’ll fight hard tomorrow to try and get into the top 10.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It was a very interesting qualifying. It was very good from the race director that we started the session, that was a good decision. On our side, Grosjean’s car not going out is not what you want to see. We had an issue with the cooling of the energy storage unit. Kevin (Magnussen) did his best and we got out of Q1. He tried in Q2, but his last lap was not perfect, so we ended up 15th, which at the moment is really where we are. We need to be realistic about that. For the car that did run, all our operations worked well, and the guys did a good job. Let’s see what happens tomorrow when it’s dry again. Hopefully we don’t have the issues from last weekend, it is meant to be cooler, so hopefully we can go racing.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"It wasn't an easy qualifying session for the drivers, with no FP3 and their first experience of these 2020 cars on wet tyres in qualifying, leading to some interesting surprises on the grid. In these unpredictable and extreme conditions, the teams and drivers had to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances. With qualifying being wet, the usual rule that the top 10 have to start the race on their Q2 tyre doesn't apply – so everyone has a free choice tomorrow, which should open up a few different possibilities for strategy."