Bottas Storms to pole, followed by Hamilton and Verstappen.
Conditions were perfect as it turned 15:00 in Austria and to the delight of fans worldwide, the first qualifying session of 2020 finally took place. This is the first opportunity to see the real pecking order of the teams and, as predicted, it appears Mercedes are the team to beat in 2020.
Valterri Bottas was lucky to start as Mercedes found a hydraulic issue with his car. The team worked frantically to fix the error and managed to get the Finnish driver out on time. It was a tense battle to get out of Q1 with less than a tenth between 15th and 18th. George Russell recorded his best ever qualifying finish, but was 0.073 away from Q2. Based on the lap times, it seems that Haas, Williams and Alfa Romeo will have a tense battle this season.
Mercedes started to show their true pace in Q2, locking out the front row early, while Verstappen attempted laps on the medium tyre. His lap was 0.9 off 1st, proving to be just enough of a safety gap from the elimination zone. Audiences also saw hints of a potential battle between Racing Point and McLaren, Norris getting 4th, edging out both of the pink cars and his teammate. The biggest shock came as Sebastian Vettel plummeted down the order and didn’t qualify for Q3. His teammate scraped through in 10th.
Bottas piled the pressure on Hamilton by taking provisional pole by 0.1 while Verstappen took a comfortable third before the final runs. Bottas was unable to improve his time as he took a trip across the gravel, but Hamilton was not able to improve. Norris had a stunning lap to get 4th, splitting the Red Bulls, Norris afterwards admitting that he expected the Racing Points to finish in front. A disappointing for Ferrari didn’t improve, as Charles Leclerc could only manage 7th place.