Valtteri Bottas made best use of Mercedes’ upgraded W09 to take his first pole position of 2018 by a tiny margin over team mate Lewis Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third place for Ferrari. But there was acrimony at Red Bull as their drivers argued with their race engineers about which of them had priority on the track.
The Ferrari pair preferred the super-softs and comfortably made it through on the harder rubber. Raikkonen was the quicker of the two in third, with Romain Grosjean and Max Verstappen separating him from Vettel.
On a short track, traffic was a headache for many drivers at the end of the session. Sergio Perez seemed to suffer worst of all, passing a string of drivers as he finished his final lap, which for the first time this year wasn’t good enough for a place in Q2.
Fernando Alonso told McLaren “traffic is the only thing you need to tell me” as he guided his MCL33 into the second part of qualifying. Team mate Stoffel Vandoorne, however, was eliminated.
Despite knocking a part off his Sauber on a kerb and skidding off the track at turn four, Charles Leclerc bagged himself a place in Q2. He beat his team mate by half a second, as Marcus Ericsson dropped out in Q1 once again.
Brendon Hartley and Sergey Sirotkin made it five different cars out in the first round of qualifying. A last-gasp run by Lance Stroll secured him the final place in Q2 by seven thousandths of a second over Vandoorne.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
|17||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’05.279|
|19||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso-Honda||1’05.366|
Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull switched tyre compounds in Q2: The red cars now appeared on the ultra-soft rubber, but still weren’t able to beat the Mercedes, now on super-softs.
Red Bull also opted for the super-softs, but only Verstappen was able to get a quick enough time out of them to put his car in its usual, fifth-place position. Ricciardo, complaining of a lack of front grip, ended up ninth after the first runs.
Ricciardo resisted the temptation to switch to a set of ultra-softs and stuck with the super-softs for his final run. His last effort moved him up to eighth, and kept him safe by four-tenths of a second. He was behind both the Haas drivers, who continued to show strong pace, and joined in the top 10 by the two Renault drivers.
Esteban Ocon missed the cut for the final 10 by two-tenths of a second in his Force India. He was fractionally quicker than Pierre Gasly, while Charles Leclerc took 13th, which will become 18th after his penalty.
Alonso finished his final lap by clipping the exit kerb hard but his spectacular end to the lap was only good enough for 14th place.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India-Mercedes||1’04.845|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso-Honda||1’04.874|
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The final phase of qualifying began with Bottas setting a stunning lap in his Mercedes. While Hamilton stumbled at turn three, Bottas went over half a second faster to lead the times. Hamilton then lost his grip on the front row as Raikkonen, running in a gap between the traffic, provisionally claimed a place on the front row.
Vettel could only manage seventh with his first effort as he was beaten by both Red Bulls and – astonishingly – Grosjean. The Haas driver took fourth ahead of the two RB14s.
All was not well at Red Bull, however. Both drivers were heard arguing with their race engineers over their radios during the session as Ricciardo objected to having to run in front of Verstappen each time he left the pits.
The argument continued after the chequered flag had fallen. Verstappen managed to move up ahead of Grosjean but Ricciardo ended the session behind the Haas driver.
Bottas eked out more time with his final run, lowering the track record to 1’03.130. Hamilton’s last effort was a huge improvement which came within two-hundredths of a second of taking pole away from his team mate, but he had to settle for second spot.
Vettel mimicked his championship rival’s late surge by jumping up to third place, making it an all-Ferrari second row. But the final gap of three-tenths of a second between his best effort and the two Mercedes indicated the W09’s aerodynamic updates had paid off around the short Austrian track.
Top ten in Q3
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||1’03.840|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||1’03.996|
|9||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Renault||1’04.725|
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2018 Austrian Grand Prix
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