The Friday in F1 Austrian GP was a hectic one for the sprint weekend as Red Bull and Ferrari took centerstage along with Alpine and Haas.
The Friday in F1 Austrian GP saw the same four drivers on top as Max Verstappen eventually pipped the two Ferrari pair who were separated by just the 0.082s margin in the end. Despite the red flags, the Dutchman managed to get the sprint race pole.
But he will have both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to tackle on Saturday, as teammate Sergio Perez will have to start from 13th. He manage to qualify in fourth despite struggles, but having set a lap time going off at Turn 8 in Q2, all his laps were deleted.
The Mexican will have to drag his car into a good position on Sunday to help not only himself but his team for a good result against the two Ferrari cars. For the Italian outfit, it is a good opportunity to gain more points against Red Bull.
While the Top 2 teams have their own battles, Mercedes seemingly are in the mix for a podium finish but both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton crashed out in Q3 which leaves them to fix the cars and in some danger of using parts which may end up in penalty.
Verstappen: “It’s incredible to see the crowd here and see so much orange and the support I get now for a few years already here. It definitely brings a smile on my face and I hope we can make it a great weekend. I think we have a great car. Normally… qualifying is not our strongest point, so I just hope of course to have a clean Turn 1, a good getaway. From then on, anything can happen, but I feel confident with the car we have. I mean it’s been like this the whole year already, sometimes they’re [Ferrari are] ahead, sometimes we’re ahead. Sprint – I think the car’s good in the race… I hope tomorrow that we are competitive in the race again.”
Sainz: “I think starting P3 on the clean side, there’s everything to play for. I think it’s going to be fun racing here with the amount of slipstream there is, and tows, and DRS. I think it’s going to be good fun and we’re going to have a good weekend. For sure when you look back and you see how close it is, you look back to the lap and find places where you’ve left that tenth of a second that could have given us pole. But I’m sure these two guys also know where they lost it, or where they gained it. The good thing is, we put a good lap there at the end of Q3. It wasn’t easy because the tyres were very cold after the red flag, and trust in the car into Turn 1 and Turn 3 wasn’t the easiest.
“But I know where the lap time is, I just wish I could have done it a little bit better. But I’m going to take P3 and being close to these two guys. I’m getting there. This quali was strong, especially Q3, peaking at the right time, not taking too many risks in Q1 and Q2 and going for it in Q3. I think there’s progress being done, and I’m definitely a lot more confident and comfortable after the last three races. There’s still some work to do. The good thing is that we have FP2 tomorrow. We will long-run the car, try the tyres and try to get a bit more comfortable in order to go for it in [the Sprint] and the race.”
Hamilton: “I’m incredibly disappointed in myself, ultimately, and so sorry to the team. Everybody worked so hard to put this car together and I never like to bring it back damaged, and we were fighting for a top-three I think. I don’t have an answer for it. I swapped the back end in Turn 7 and that was that. I’m encouraged of course by our performance, it’s just we weren’t expecting to be as close as that today, so that’s a positive from the team – but I’m really quite far back. I don’t know what’s possible from there, but we have a Sprint race as well tomorrow, so I hope I can make up some lost time.”
Russell: “We need to review the crash damage. There’s nothing lucky or fortunate about a mistake like that… I could have been P4, I was a tenth up on my lap, then absolutely went for it, because I thought there was an opportunity for third, and it turns out probably not. But we just need to see how much damage it’s done. Sorry to the team and the guys in the garage. We ordinarily have better race pace than quali pace and we’re definitely there in the fight. As a team, it was probably our best qualifying of the year in terms of pace but probably the worst in terms of outcome. That’s racing. I’m personally going through a tricky couple of races at the moment but we’ve got tomorrow to make up for it.”
The rest of the Top 10 had two Alpine and Haas cars, making it five-team Top 10 leaving the likes of McLaren, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri out of the scene. The former are in a good position to secure good position for the Sunday’s race.
They are in direct fight against McLaren and with the British F1 outfit having an off day with Lando Norris being forced to move back to an old power unit for qualifying. He then faced brake issues which further hampered his Q2 running and an exit.
Teammate Daniel Ricciardo had another tough outing to be knocked out in Q1 which leaves both McLaren to work on Saturday to gain places. On the other hand, the Alpine pair are in a good position with Esteban Ocon edging out Fernando Alonso after the latter suffered floor damage.
Norris: “We’re just on the back foot with braking… and it just doesn’t allow us to even do a lap at the minute. We had a [power unit] failure this morning – we didn’t start off on the back foot, we started fine, I think the car had decent pace and we should have been in Q3 today. I have the confidence in the car when things are working to be in Q3 but just the engine issue this morning, lost a lot of laps, and they were low-fuel laps – so Q1 was my first feeling of low-fuel, higher grip. Just on the back foot comparing to other teams, and now even more issues in qualifying which means in the middle of the braking zone, the car just goes straight on, which is pretty scary. But hopefully we can fix it for tomorrow.”
Alonso: “The car felt very competitive today and it was good to be in Q3 again. However, I had a broken floor after I ran wide on my first lap in Q3, so we lost some performance with the damage. I think before that damage occurred, we were looking at the top five or six positions today, which would have been great for the Sprint tomorrow. From ninth place, our aim will be to recover some places tomorrow, which I’m sure we can achieve. Generally, it’s been a competitive Friday for us, so I’m hopeful we can have some fun in Sprint Qualifying and in the race on Sunday afternoon and claim some big points.”
Magnussen: “It’s been a good Friday. We got the car on track for the first run in FP1 and it looked competitive. I was pretty confident going into qualifying and it’s been a strong day. I don’t even feel like we got the most out of it, it felt like there was a little more lap time in it. It’s funny as I’m P7 and I’m not super happy, so that’s a very good position to be in.”
Outside the Top 10, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was seemingly pleased with 11th as he reckons despite the team not bringing as many updates, they are close to points. On the other hand, Williams’ Alexander Albon was happy to bounce back in Q2.
The team had to fix the updates again after Silverstone crash and it worked well for them. The Alfa Romeo pair, though, were not so happy with Valtteri Bottas in Q2 but will start from last due to power unit penalty, while Zhou Guanyu was knocked out in Q1.
Gasly: “I’m pretty happy with today, we haven’t had any upgrades for a few races, so we know compared to other cars we’ve been struggling quite a bit more lately. It’s always frustrating to miss out on Q3 by such a small margin, but I must say I was pleased with my lap, it was pretty tidy and I was able to put it altogether for Quali today. We’re starting just out of the top 10 for the Sprint tomorrow, so we’re in a good position to make our way forward and hopefully move into the points on Sunday. We need to work more, as we can’t be satisfied with the overall performance, but we know we have some upgrades coming, so if we are able to improve from this current baseline then we should be quite competitive in the upcoming races.”
Albon: “I’m very happy. Firstly, the team did a great job to get everything ready after the damage from Silverstone; they worked flat out at the factory and here at the circuit, so to repay them with a P12 is great. We have obviously brought an upgrade and it’s nice to see the performance increase because of it and I hope we can progress forward each weekend. We were only a tenth away from Q3 – it’s almost frustrating as you can always think of places you could have improved – but I’m very happy. I think it’s all to play for tomorrow.”
Guanyu: “Today has been quite a frustrating day for me: I struggled with the tyres on the first lap on a short track like this one. The tyres were working much better on the second lap of the run but, even though I slightly improved my lap time, I still didn’t have the grip I wanted and that resulted in us being out in Q1. The car has obviously been built new and, having had just one session to get ready and adapt to it, this hasn’t been the easiest for me either. Nevertheless, the car seems to be working fine, we just lacked some performance today. It’s my second Sprint weekend overall, and I didn’t really get to experience in the previous one in Imola as I was out in the first lap, but hopefully we will have a good one tomorrow and move up on the grid ahead of Sunday, so that we can battle for points. I think everything’s open for us, we just have to figure out what went wrong today and improve from that.”
Vettel: “It was a shame to get my lap-time deleted for crossing track limits. I had actually lost a little time at Turn One anyway – so it was effectively a double penalty. Still, we did not have the pace today to get through into the next part of qualifying – but there are plenty of opportunities in tomorrow’s Sprint Race and we will hopefully start in a better position for Sunday’s Grand Prix.”
Here’s how F1 Austrian GP qualifying panned out