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Qualifying analysis - Raikkonen blames Ferrari for early exit

20 Jun 2015

A drying track made the start of qualifying in Austria a bit of a lottery - but even so it was a shock to see Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari exit in 18th. There more surprises in store however, not least both Mercedes slipping off-track on their final flyers. We take a team-by-team look at the breathless action on Saturday in Spielberg...

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 08.455s, P1
Nico Rosberg, 1m 08.655s, P2

Mercedes' 19th straight pole position, and Hamilton's 45th, came despite both he and Rosberg spinning on their final runs in Q3. By then Hamilton had done enough to beat Rosberg by two-tenths of a second, having finally got the confidence he sought in his car's balance - and the tyre and brake temperatures to make use of it. Even so he spun approaching Turn 1 when he locked the rear brakes. Rosberg was on course to take advantage, having made up the two-tenth deficit to Hamilton on his final flyer, but pushed too hard coming through Turns 8 and 9 and ended his session in the gravel.

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 08.810s P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 12.867s, P18, will start P14

Things were both good and very bad for Ferrari. Though Vettel couldn't fight for pole he was only four-tenths off Hamilton, and knows that his car potentially has better race pace, so a strong battle with Mercedes is in prospect. Raikkonen, however, qualified only 18th and starts 14th, blaming his exit on the team changing his strategy in Q1 but not telling him.

Felipe Massa, 1m 09.192s, P4
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 09.319s, P6

Both drivers felt they deserved a little more than fourth and sixth places. Massa said his tyres weren't at their absolute best when he set his best time, while Bottas said he had too many yellow flags on his runs. Nevertheless, the aim of closing the gap to Ferrari was achieved and they believe they have very strong race pace, so they hope to be fighting for another podium.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 09.278s, P5
Sergio Perez, 1m 12.522s, P16, will start P13

While Hulkenberg was very happy to have found his rhythm in Q2 and Q3, Perez was disappointed not to have been able to do likewise. As the Le Mans winner qualified an excellent fifth, the Mexican found himself trapped between Alonso and Raikkonen in Q1, and was thus unable to push forward or to drop back to re-optimise his position. To add insult to injury, Alonso's improvement bumped him from Q2.

Toro Rosso
Max Verstappen, 1m 09.612s, P7
Carlos Sainz, 1m 10.465s, P13, will start P12

Verstappen was very happy with his qualifying result, as well he might have been, and his performance in the tricky conditions of FP3 and Q1 was eye-opening. Sainz was disappointed as his car was set-up in expectation of rain tomorrow, which is now unlikely to fall, so he got a double disadvantage.

Red Bull
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 09.694s, P8, will start P15
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 10.482s, P14, will start P18 (plus 5s time penalty to be applied in the race)

Kvyat was just plain unhappy, while Ricciardo also said that a brake temperature problem hampered him in Q2. Knowing they would be getting grid penalties, the team compromised the set-up in favour of straightline speed rather than grip, so they expect to be able to make headway in the race.

Felipe Nasr, 1m 09.713s, P9, will start P8
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 10.426s, P12, will start P11

Sauber look in much better shape here than in Canada, despite the tracks' similarities. Nasr was very happy with ninth overall, which will be an eighth place start with Kvyat's penalty taken into consideration. Ericsson, however, was disappointed not to make Q3.

Romain Grosjean, No time, P10, will start P9
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 10.374s, P11, will start P10

Grosjean believed he could have been as high as fifth in qualifying, but was stymied in Q3 by a hydraulic leak which prevented him from venturing out. Maldonado should have made it through to Q3, but made a mistake on his final run of Q2. Both believe they will have strong race pace.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 10.736s, P15, will start P19 (plus drive-through penalty within first three laps)
Jenson Button, 1m 12.632s, P17, will start P20  (plus 10s stop and go penalty within first three laps)

McLaren appeared set for another disaster in FP3 when Alonso's upgraded MP4-30 stopped and triggered a red flag. But in qualifying the Spaniard said that he felt the new aero update was having a positive effect, and that it was a definite step forward. Button was actually fastest for a few moments in the changing conditions in Q1, before the drying line sent him back down the order. Both have to serve penalties within the first three laps as they obviously could not accommodate all of their 50 grid place drop; Button's is a stop and go, Alonso's a drive through. The race will thus effectively be an extended test session for them.

Roberto Merhi, 1m 14.071s, P19, will start P16
Will Stevens, 1m 15.368s, P20, will start P17

Merhi was happy with the way his qualifying went, but Stevens landed in the Turn 7 gravel on his first run and complained of traffic on his second. Both get grid boosts, from 19th and 20th to 16th and 17th respectively, thanks to the Red Bull and McLaren penalties.