Spielberg (dpa) – Lewis Hamilton has secured pole position for the second Formula 1 race of the year in the Spielberg rain. The English world champion gave the competition no chance in qualifying on the Red Bull Ring.
Hamilton distanced Max Verstappen in second place in the Red Bull, McLaren man Carlos Sainz came third. The Englishman stormed to his first pole of the year, the 89th of his career.
Sebastian Vettel did not follow in the Ferrari. After eleventh place a week ago, it was only enough for the German to be tenth. He was almost 2.4 seconds off Hamilton (2.378). Vettel’s stable rival Charles Leclerc actually finished qualifying in eleventh. After a disability of Daniil Kwjat in Alpha Tauri, Monegasse was also given a starting spot penalty: Leclerc is now only 14th in the race on Sunday (3.10 p.m. / RTL and Sky). What a fiasco for the Scuderia!
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto drew a disastrous conclusion. The racing team was not “competitive”. The upgrades would not have worked either. This is “not good enough for a team that goes by the name of Ferrari,” he said.
Vettel was also bitterly disappointed. “Of course I was expecting more. We struggled tremendously in all three sessions,” summed up Vettel, who even did a spin in the last knockout round. “The bottom line was that we weren’t fast enough.”
Hamilton, on the other hand, was overjoyed. “I had a big moment on the penultimate lap when my heart was almost in my pants,” he reported. “I love these days.”
Vettel & Co. had to do without a last warm-up. The final training was canceled for security reasons. That was the last time in October last year, when Typhoon Hagibis brought the premier class of motorsport in Japan to a standstill for a full day.
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The weather swirled the schedule in Styria so well. The qualification was only released 46 minutes late. Previously, the heavy rains had ensured that the Formula 3 race in the supporting program of the motorsport premier class had been stopped after only twelve laps. The conditions had become too dangerous for the drivers.
A decisive factor for safety is always whether the rescue helicopter positioned on the course can take off. Dark clouds hung over the route. “Austria is always a challenging course when it comes to the weather,” said Formula 1 sports director Ross Brawn. “But we had to deal with such conditions before.”
The race management had long gone through the models, which would happen if, in the worst case, it was not possible to hunt for a starting place. Then the times from the last training session would have been used.
That would have been fatal for Vettel, who was only 16th in the second free practice session. At 3:46 p.m., the stewards granted the desired release. And the German was the first pilot to venture out. Vettel also secured the first fastest lap (1: 24.235 minutes). The times improved as a result.
The knockout phases did not end without incidents. So Antonio Giovinazzi slid off the track in his Alfa Romeo at the end of the first qualifying phase.
Vettel, on the other hand, remained in control of his red racing car, even if it sometimes carried him over the curbs. After missing the entry into the decision-making process a week ago, he was spared this in the rain. Vettel entered tenth in the final knockout phase, while his stable rival Leclerc missed a position in the top ten in eleventh – and was later punished.
“We just weren’t fast enough, we couldn’t do anything about it,” summed up the Monegasse. Then the rain didn’t let up. “Much more water is coming down,” said world champion Hamilton at the start of the crucial round. In an outstanding manner, he secured first place.