Valtteri Bottas took pole position as he led a Mercedes front row lockout at the first race of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. The Finn edged his team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.012 seconds to take his third pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen finished in third position, but will start on the medium compound tyres. Lando Norris took fourth position ahead of Alexander Albon.
Sergio Perez qualified in sixth position ahead of Charles Leclerc, the lone Ferrari driver in the top 10 positions. Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10 positions.
The qualifying session started under clear skies with air temperatures at twenty-four degrees C and track temperatures at a sizzling fifty-four degrees C. The three Pirelli tyre compounds for this race are the white-striped hard tyres (C2), the yellow-striped medium tyres (C3) and the red-striped soft tyres (C4).
The eighteen-minute long first session of qualifying got underway with Nicholas Latifi the first driver on the track and the Canadian set the first timed lap. Latifi had ended the final practice session in the barriers.
Antonio Giovinazzi topped the time charts in the early exchanges before the drivers from the top teams emerged on the track. Verstappen went to the top of the time charts followed by Bottas and Hamilton. The Alfa Romeo and Williams drivers were joined by Kevin Magnussen in the dropzone.
The drivers in the first qualification dropzone were Kevin Magnussen, George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kimi Räikkönen, and Nicholas Latifi.
The fifteen-minute long second qualification session started with Verstappen going out on the medium compound tyres in a contra-strategy to the Mercedes drivers.
Hamilton with a lap time of 1m03.325s went to the top of the time charts. Verstappen could only manage eighth position on his first flying lap on the slower tyres before he improved to sixth position.
Bottas improved on his second try and moved ahead of Hamilton who has been dominant so far this weekend. The two Ferrari drivers clearly lacked pace and were in the danger zone.
In the dying minutes of the session, Albon with a quick lap put himself in third position and pushed Sebastian Vettel into the dropzone, the first major casualty of the qualification session.
The drivers in the second qualification dropzone were Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Ocon, Romain Grosjean.
The final all important twelve-minute shootout started with Bottas setting the pace once again as he took provisional pole with his first flying lap of 1m02.939s. Hamilton was 0.122 seconds behind him.
On the second set of flying laps, Bottas slid into the gravel on Turn 4 briefly bringing out the yellow flags. Behind him Hamilton improved but still had to be content with second position.
Verstappen finished in third position a full 0.538 seconds behind Bottas. The Dutchman will be starting on the medium compound tyres, with all the other drivers in the top 10 positions on the grid on the soft compound tyres.
Leclerc the pole-sitter at the Red Bull Ring last year had to be content with seventh position even as his team-mate Vettel will start in eleventh position. A clear indication of the lack of pace and the fact that Ferrari are struggling at the opening race of the season.
Top 10 after Q3: Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Alexander Albon, Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo.
2020 Austrian Grand Prix Qualifying Results:
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||01:04.0||01:04.0||01:03.5||23|
|4||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||01:04.6||01:03.8||01:03.6||17|
|5||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||01:04.7||01:03.7||01:03.9||18|
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||01:04.5||01:03.9||01:03.9||19|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||01:04.5||01:04.0||01:04.0||18|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||01:04.3||01:04.0||01:04.0||17|
|12||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||01:04.6||01:04.3||14|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda||01:05.0||01:04.4||14|
|15||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||01:05.1||01:04.7||14|
|16||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||01:05.2||8|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||01:05.2||10|
|18||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||01:05.2||8|
|19||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||01:05.2||9|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||01:05.8||12|