Lewis Hamilton has crushed his competition to claim pole position in a wet qualifying session for the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix, the Brit beating Max Verstappen by an incredible 1.2s with a scintillating lap.
After biblical rain saw FP3 cancelled entirely, a window of opportunity almost a complete hour after qualifying’s originally scheduled time to kick off allowed teams and drivers to head out on the extreme wet tyre for one of the more exciting sessions of recent past.
A two-horse race quickly surfaced between Hamilton and Verstappen. The duo demonstrated a level of finesse unable to be matched as they shared fastest lap after fastest lap in Q3 before the Mercedes’ pilot set a crushing 1.19.273s to snare his 89th career pole as Verstappen made three critical errors on his final timed lap.
“Honestly I am [pleased],” said Hamilton after his lap. “What a tricky day, the weather’s obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us. A lot of the time you can’t even see where you’re going.
“I had one big moment the lap before the last, a big aquaplane which definitely had my heart in my mouth but I was able to improve on the next lap, nice and clean. I love these days.”
Carlos Sainz grabbed third place for McLaren, with Austrian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas finishing fourth.
Renault’s Esteban Ocon took fifth ahead of last weekend’s superstar Lando Norris who drops three positions courtesy of a grid penalty from FP1.
Alexander Albon ended up a disappointing sixth, narrowly ahead of Pierre Gasly and AlphaTauri.
It was hoped the wet conditions could spare Ferrari from yet another qualifying embarrassment but once again one sole car would make it to Q3, this time being Sebastian Vettel who ended up bottom of the pile in the final segment.
Charles Leclerc did cross the line in Q2 the eleventh fastest but will take to the grid in 14th after a post-session penalty deemed the Ferrari was responsible for impeding Daniil Kvyat. It means George Russell will start from a career-best 11th for the struggling Williams outfit.
The first wet session of the year was ended early after Antonio Giovinazzi spun his Alfa Romeo at the exit of penultimate corner, careening off into the barriers at the final turn.
The subsequent red flag meant Sergio Perez, who had topped yesterday’s opening practice session, was unable to set a competitive lap time and ended up 17th.
Romain Grosjean will take the last spot on after he skated off the track at Turn 4 before retreating to the pits.
The Styrian Grand Prix is forecasted to be held in dry conditions in complete foil to today’s washout with the race scheduled to begin from 1.10 am NZT.
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