Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2019

Leclerc on pole, Vettel out of luck, Hamilton under investigation

2019 Austrian Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc has taken his second career pole position in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

He will share the front row of the grid with Lewis Hamilton,unless the world championship leader is given a penalty for an incident in Q1 involving Kimi Raikkonen.

But Ferrari missed out on a potential one-two after a technical problem prevented Sebastian Vettel from running in Q3.


“Whoever that was, it’s a penalty” fumed Daniil Kvyat at the end of Q1. George Russell was the focus of the Toro Rosso driver’s ire. Kvyat had caught the Williams at turn nine as Kvyat neared the end of his final flying lap. It forced Kvyat wide, ruined his last chance to reach Q2, and left him out.

Kvyat, the only one of the two Toro Rosso drivers not carrying a grid penalty, was understandably unhappy. So too was Kimi Raikkonen, who felt he was held up by Lewis Hamilton on one of his early runs, though unlike Kvyat and Russell both of them made it into the next stage of qualifying. This too was noted by the stewards.

Both Racing Point drivers also missed the cut for Q2 – Lance Stroll continuing his run of failing to make it beyond Q1 in every session this year.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’04.789
17Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’04.832
18Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’05.324
19George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’05.904
20Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’06.206

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Among the front-runners, some of the usual suspects took medium tyres for their flying laps in Q2, believing that will be the preferential strategy for the race. Both Mercedes did, as did Max Verstappen but not Pierre Gasly, who continued his trend for preferring the softer tyre to maximise his chance of reaching Q3.

However Ferrari shunned the tactical approaching, fitting softs to both cars. Charles Leclerc led the way after their runs, edging Sebastian Vettel by two-tenths of a second.

Hamilton went out for another run on the same compound but was unhappy to find himself without the assistance of a tow from a car ahead of him. “We aren’t fast on the straight,” he reminded race engineer Peter Bonnington. He made Q3 without difficult, however.

In fact the final runs made no difference to the names in the top 10. Kevin Magnussen, holding 10th, slid off on his lap while several of the others were queued up behind him. This meant all the drivers behind who could have beaten his time had to back of for yellow flags, and Magnussen proceeded to the final 10.

Magnussen, who has a five-place grid penalty for the race due to a gearbox change, therefore proceeded to Q3. His team mate dropped out in Q2 along with Nico Hulkenberg, who has a 10-place penalty, and two drivers who will be relegated to the back of the grid: Alexander Albon and Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’04.490
12Nico HulkenbergRenault1’04.516
13Alexander AlbonToro Rosso-Honda1’04.665
14Daniel RicciardoRenault1’04.790
15Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’13.601

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Leclerc’s chances of taking pole position were given a boost when his team mate hit trouble. Vettel hadn’t done an extra run at the end of Q3 and the reason became clear as Ferrari mechanics crowded around his SF90. A problem with the air pressure line to the engine had been discovered, and as the minutes ticked down Ferrari gradually realised Vettel would be unable to take part in Q3.

That left Leclerc on his own, not that it put him off his stride. He lowered his best time with both efforts, and established a new track record of 1’03.003 has he claimed the second pole position of his career.

Hamilton was on the back foot after his first run. He led the Mercedes cars and the rest of the field out of the pits to begin with, and without the benefit of a tow he could only managed the fourth-fastest time behind his team mate and Verstappen.

When it came to the final runs Hamilton hesitated briefly as he left his pit box and his team immediately pounced on him for the delay. “Lewis we can’t wait on time, get going, get going,” came a voice from the pit wall. He got on with it when he joined the track and was quickly told his out-lap time was “safe”.

This time he had cars ahead of him, however, and that gave him the vital extra boost he needed to claim second place on the grid. Verstappen pulled off another great lap to split the Mercedes, putting his Red Bull third on the grid. But Gasly disappointed again, ending Q3 ninth, though he had complained about power delivery problems earlier in the session.

They were separated by Magnussen (whose penalty will relegate him and elevate Vettel), Norris and the Alfa Romeos, Raikkonen prevailing between those two by a mere 0.013s.

Top ten in Q3

1Charles LeclercFerrari1’03.003
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’03.262
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’03.439
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1’03.537
5Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’04.072
6Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’04.099
7Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’04.166
8Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’04.179
9Pierre GaslyRed Bull-Honda1’04.199
10Sebastian VettelFerrari

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2019 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “Leclerc on pole, Vettel out of luck, Hamilton under investigation”

  1. Based on all the other sessions, Leclerc was always going to beat Vettel to pole anyhow.

    1. Because he tampered with Vettel’s car on Thursday! *adjusts tin-foil hat*

    2. @david-br
      Leclerc looked quicker than Vettel in Canada too, until Q3…

      1. Thanks.. is like kimi-vettel era, until Q3..

        1. Those are the benefits that go along with a first driver contract clause, I guess..

          1. You’re right. Can’t stand stuff like that. BOT should have known better…

  2. Would Norris start 4th if Hamilton gets a 3-place grid drop (after Magnussen’s grid drop)?

    1. I guess so. Norris would need a more aggressive start, though, to make it count.

      1. @david-br @jerejj Seeing reports on BBC and The Sun (not that I normally trust them) that Lewis will start 4th? I thought it was the order in which the penalties were awarded but perhaps K-mag hadnt officially been given his penalty before Lewis?

        1. @ninjenius Apparently so. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

  3. Everyone searching for slipstreams and tows. This season has already had China, Baku and Canada with this. I will be stunned if Hamilton escapes with that penalty.

  4. So happy for Charles. Hope he gets the win he lost in Bahrain. He was on it the whole weekend and kept his front wing clean. Looked the quicker of the two Ferraris.
    Is the time running out for Gasly? Again a second off pole position time.

  5. Does Dieter have the headmaster’s office bugged?

  6. I’ve seen RaceFans report that Hulk has a 10 place grid penalty, but the official F1 site says it’s a five place penalty for a new ICE, and Crofty at Sky reported the same.

  7. If Vettel vs Sainz was a penalty, so was Lewis vs Kimi today.

    1. @kingshark Hopefully Hamilton will get the penalty as some kind of collective fan therapy.

      1. @david-br Yes, spot on, even if the penalty is justified this time(of course it is), plus the pole for leclerc would help relieve some tension

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      29th June 2019, 17:02

      @kingshark Well you got your wish. Unfortunately for you though, Vettel destroyed his car in Q2. So he’s still behind.

      1. @f1osaurus
        Vettel caused a hydraulic leak? Man you are dumb.

        1. Ahah, destroyed the car, now, that’s bad of vettel!

        2. F1oSaurus (@)
          29th June 2019, 20:17

          @kingshark Ah well, they showed it on German TV.

  8. Vettel hadn’t done an extra run at the end of Q3 and the reason became clear as Ferrari mechanics crowded around his SF90.

    Shouldn’t that be end of Q2?

  9. Will not do Hamilton any harm to drop 3 places…..that puts Max on the front row…and there’s no way he is going to let Charles take the lead….so they both go off(if not there it will be somewhere else)…Norris will not be able to hold Lewis off all race, so it’s probably…a 1. 2 again for Mercedes….
    Take your bets….

    1. My bet is Bottas wouldn’t on the podium tomorrow.

  10. LH should get a penalty for that for the sake of consistency even if Kimi still managed to reach Q2 (and eventually Q3) since Sainz got a penalty for impeding Albon in Canada despite the latter still being able to reach the following phase despite that, and the same with the Vettel-Sainz case in Austria twelve months ago.

    1. @jerejj Indeed, you hold a driver up, you get a penalty. That’s how it is. Would not surprise me if he gets away with it though, because it’s “the championship race”.

      1. I am wrong, thankfully

      2. Btw, jamie b, good to have some consistency for once, but it’s not “for the championship race” the excuse, it can’t be, look at vettel austria 2018, penalized while in full championship race and while being slightly behind already, so far it’d have been “for mercedes”!

        1. @esploratore I was going to put that originally but was worried it would be too controversial hahaha

  11. The curve ball for the race is obviously the fact that Vettel and Leclerc start on soft tyres. Any reason for that strategy?

    1. Yes, this is the first that surprised me (in general negatively) on ferrari’s chance, before vettel’s issue: ferrari looked like the fastest team with red bull slightly faster than mercedes in q1, so I was surprised ferrari was the only team not to go out on medium tyres and as a matter of fact they got plenty of margin on the other teams, so looks like it was overkill in q2, it’s probably intended that they wanted to have the softs for the race but still weird, maybe it’s to defend their positions at start more easily.

      1. chances*

      2. @esploratore It did seem weirdly over-defensive for the team with the faster car (apparently). I guess it may help Vettel, and perhaps Leclerc defend from Verstappen. But I can’t really see it working for them if Mercedes have a good race pace (which they seemed to).

    2. @david-br
      Starting on Softs gives them the chance to go for Mediums in their 2nd (and most likely final) stint, while the others are nailed on the Hards.
      Considering the temperatures will rise slightly for the race, it might also backfire for Leclerc. But who knows?

      The Mercs also had to do a 2nd flying lap in Q2, which might shorten their tyre-life a bit.

  12. It seemed like Lewis slowing down before the final laps at the end of Q3 caused Valtteri to get a bad start to his lap, interesting to see if this comes up in any way. Or maybe I just read the situation wrong from the brief glimpse we got of it.

    1. Yeah, same question. Never got mentioned anywhere, maybe it was a wrong read by the Sky team as well (wouldnt that be a surprise) and it was the plan all along

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      29th June 2019, 20:19

      @kaiie Well Hamilton was behind Norris and Norris slowed down ahead of Hamilton. So what was Hamilton supposed to do?

    3. @Kaiie Having had a good look at this I think the much bigger problem for Bottas was that his radio messages didn’t make his situation fully clear, and left him vulnerable to being passed by Leclerc at the worst possible moment. Hamilton’s brief slowdown was connected to it, but I think it was a minor contributing factor. Interesting that he did it though – and how quickly Mercedes reacted to it:

  13. I’m very pleased for Charles, he seems a very nice chap who thoroughly deserves a good result tomorrow. But I wonder how this makes Sebastian feel. The is the first race of the season where Ferrari have a reasonable expectation of victory and where Rocket Hamilton is demoted from front row . . . and yet Sebastian’s not in the frame.
    Racing drivers seem to have fragile egos – I suppose they have to – and I wonder if a Leclerc victory tomorrow will be just too much for Sebastian’s.
    Oh and by the way, I’m sure we are all delighted to see Lando so far up the grid. Excellent news.

    1. @nickwyatt

      The is the first race of the season where Ferrari have a reasonable expectation of victory

      I don’t agree: Ferrari had the pace to win in Bahrain, Baku and Montreal as well.

  14. Jammie Coulee
    29th June 2019, 23:07

    Shamefull behaviour from Hamilton with Bottas.

    This GP was Bottas’ turn to be towed, and Hamilton isn’t dignified enough to take it.
    First the aborted lap shennanigans. Then the “safety car” games so that he could break Bottas’s tow.

    I’m sure Hamilton will expect Bottas’s tow when it’s his turn.

    Disgraceful character.

Comments are closed.