It was always going to be a tight scrap for pole at Spielberg given that the circuit is the shortest on the F1 calendar and small errors in the early Q3 runs from both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel put emphasis on the final run.
After the first Q3 laps, Valtteri Bottas had a half-second margin to the rest of the field, taking the pressure slightly off the Finn.
This early pressure helped Bottas, who improved again on his final run to secure pole position for Mercedes, with Hamilton second. The Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen secured the second row but we’re a shocking three tenths adrift of the Silver Arrows.
The seven-tenths Red Bull had been losing on the straights was the gap to pole, with Verstappen 5th and Ricciardo a disappointing 7th. The Bulls were split by Haas of Romain Grosjean, who has pulled a performance out of the bag when he’s needed it the most. He’s got a real chance to score some points this weekend.
Magnussen was 8th, and the Renaults of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.
Q2 shaped an interesting midfield for the race tomorrow, with Ocon 11th and Gasly 12th, the French drivers poised to continue their developing rivalry in F1. Leclerc had another solid outing in the Sauber for 13th, but is demoted to 18th due to the gearbox change he endured in FP3.
Further back in 14th (13th after Leclerc’s penalty) was Fernando Alonso, another disappointing session overall for McLaren, their calibration issues at the wind tunnel stagnating any progress. Lance Stroll ended at the back, but starts the race in 14th for Williams.
In the closing stages of Q1, it was Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso sitting in 15th who was the driver at risk with Vandoorne, Stroll, Alonso, Ericsson and Perez all looking to escape into Q2. The McLarens left it late to jump out of the elimination zone, possibly aided by the new Renault party mode. Alonso jumped to 10th, but Vandoorne remained at risk with a lap only enough for 15th.
On the final hot lap, Lance Stroll crept into Q2 by seven-thousandths of a second, eliminating Vandoorne. All final laps were abandoned due to a yellow flag in sector two with Leclerc taking a trip across the gravel. The biggest suprise early elimination was Sergio Perez in the Force India. The Mexican told C4F1 that running out of battery power in his first run and traffic in his second hindered his chance.