Felipe Massa stormed to the top of the time sheet to take pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix and head home a Williams one-two. The Williams pare capitalised on mistakes by Lewis Hamilton and became the first team to take a pole position in 2014 other than a Mercedes.
As the session got underway, Kvyat was the first driver to head out on track for his opening qualifying stint, followed by Hulkenberg and Vergne. Some drivers were weaving heavily on the early laps to get more temperature into their tyres but once the early timed laps hit the board the Toro Rosso’s were the early pace setters with lap times in the 1 minuet 10 second area.
For the Marussia’s are Caterham’s, they opted to head straight out in Q1 on the supersoft. It’s a obvious call that they would be the one’s fighting to get a spot in Q2 as they are the usual suspects to drop out in Q1. But for Sutil in his Sauber, he has been struggling all weekend at the Red Bull Ring and also opted straight for the supersoft tyres.
Keeping with the theme of the weekend. A lot of drivers found themselves going wide and off the track at turn one and turn eight. After going wide and exceeding track limits, drivers are going to be getting their lap times excluded from qualifying and over the opening eight minuets, a lot of drivers were having their lap times excluded. But as you would expect with Mercedes, their two drivers found themselves storming to a one-two early on. With both drivers being the first to set a 1 minuet 9 second lap time.
Now with most of the field heading to the pits it was clear that the Williams were showing solid pace to be the early “best of the rest” drivers. With Massa sitting in third place, 0.7 seconds back from Rosberg and Bottas a further 7 hundredths back.
As we entered the final five minuets of Q1, drivers facing the possible drop headed out on the supersoft tyres. Grosjean, whilst out on the supersofts, improved by over a second to leap up to seventh place and open a large lead to the drop zone. But despite the Lotus of Grosjean shooting to seventh, Kvyat in his Toro Rosso rocketed up to second place and splitting the Mercedes drivers.
Now with times like these being set, even Raikkonen in his Ferrari began heading out on supersofts with the threat of being dropped out of qualifying looming over them.
Once more, drivers began having their times disallowed regularly. Sutil was one of the drivers being caught out by turn eight on a regular basis. Once he put in a lap time that saw him move up to 14th, the lap was actually excluded and he stayed down in the drop zone in 18th place.
But with the chequered flag waving, there was a potential upset on the hands of Vettel. Red Bull kept their driver in the pits thinking he would be fine but they soon saw his time sloping down the order and fell to 15th. Luckily for the German, he would not see himself being knocked out in Q1 after the Sauber’s, Caterham’s and Marussia’s were unable to improve on their times to get out of the drop zone. But at the front, Mercedes got through Q1 only using the soft compound tyres, which should help them in the later stages of qualifying. Another impressive Q1 performances saw the Toro Rosso’s finishing strongly with Kvyat taking second place and Vergne finishing in 6th. For the Austrian Grand Prix, Toro Rosso have brought along new front & rear wings, in addition to a new diffuser which is clearly working for the team.
So out in Q1 we have; Sutil (1:10:825) followed by Gutierrez, Bianchi, Kobayashi, Chilton and Ericsson.
Now onto Q2, the session began with Hulkenberg hitting the track from the start along with his team-mate, Sergio Perez. Unlike in Q1, drivers were hitting the track immediately with the supersoft compound tyres. But when the first timed laps of Q2 hit the board there was just 8 thousandths of a second splitting the two Force India’s as they broke the 1 minuet 9 second mark.
Next up the likes of Raikkonen, Grosjean and Maldonado were unable to challenge the Force India’s. But on his second timed lap, Magnussen stormed to 3 tenths clear at the top. But this wasn’t enough to keep his lead as the Williams duo kept their car on track and thumped to the top with a one-two. Bottas almost broke into the 1 minuet 8 second lap time with his lap. That mark was soon broken however by Nico Rosberg with a 1:08:974.
As the session ticked into the final 6 minuets, almost every driver was in the pits and a look at the time sheets showed that Red Bull are still struggling to perform at their own track. Ricciardo was in the top 10, just, as he sat in 9th place. But for Vettel, he could still not break in and was sat in 12th place.
Despite setting the fastest lap time of qualifying so far, Rosberg was still unhappy with his car and was complaining of understeer during the high-speed corners. The team had planned not to run again in Q2 but with Nico’s reports of understeer they changed their plans and chose to head back out, but run with more front wing to try to reduce the oversteer.
As the clocked continued to tick down, and there was no longer time for anyone to exit the pits and carry out a timed lap, the only driver still in the pits was Hamilton.
Vettel continued to struggle to get into the top 10 and ended up leaving himself with just one lap to improve from 13th place, but all he was able to do was move up one place for the time being, and ended the session in 13th place. So Vettel was knocked out in Q2 at Red Bull’s own circuit.
Joining Vettel out in Q2 was; Perez (1:09:754), Button, Maldonado, Vergne and Grosjean.
Providing there will be no more penalties handed out, Perez will start tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix in 16th place following his 5-place grid penalty for the crash with Massa back in Canada.
Now moving on to the final part of qualifying, the top 10 shoot out. It looked like nothing other than a Mercedes would get pole position and a Williams will be best of the rest but just because you expect one thing to happen, other factors could strike and a surprise may spring up. Back in FP3, Bottas actually topped the time sheet ahead of the Mercedes, so you would imagine Williams and Bottas would be brimming with confidence for a strong qualifying.
But as the session got underway, the first driver to venture out was Alonso, followed swiftly by Magnussen. Both drivers would need to improve on their Q2 performances if they fancied a challenge for the front row places.
In Q2, the fastest lap time by anyone was done by Rosberg with a 1:08:974, and was the only 1 minuet 8 second lap. But for Q3, the fastest lap from the start was by Bottas who set a 1:08:846 to take the provisional lead and set the fastest lap of qualifying. Bottas definitely was a flying Finn in Austria today.
But Valterri’s lap time looked like it would be beaten by Lewis Hamilton as the Mercedes driver set the fastest times through both sector one and two but heading into turn eight Lewis exceeded the track and lost the lap time.
As for Lewis’ team-mate, Rosberg was the next driver to challenge Bottas for provisional pole but even in the Mercedes car, Rosberg had no answer to Bottas’ supersoft time. Back in Canada it appeared Mercedes weren’t getting the best from the supersoft tyres and this was a sign it was happening all over again for the Mercedes team.
Luckily for Lewis, he carried out one less stint in Q2 so he had a fresh set of supersoft tyres for Q3 and this could be the key to getting pole position.
As the clock enters the final two minuets of qualifying, all drivers were out on track but for Hamilton and Hulkenberg, neither driver had set a lap time as of yet. This part of qualifying was going to be vital them if they aim to get anywhere near the front row.
On Bottas’ first flying lap of his final stint, he ran off the track at turn seven, kicking up dirt and potentially throwing away pole position.
Luckily for Bottas, Lewis was pushing hard and span at turn one throwing away any chance of setting a lap time in Q3. Meaning he will start tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix in ninth place. Ahead of Hulkenberg who had his lap time thrown out for exceeding track limits.
Rosberg was unable to improve his lap time to challenge Bottas for pole position but pole wasn’t going to be Bottas’ as Felipe Massa stormed to the chequered flag to take pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix and head home a Williams one two finish in qualifying.
At the end of Q3 the order was; Massa (1:08:759), Bottas, Rosberg, Alonso, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Hulkenberg.
After Hamilton’s DNF in Canada, qualifying in ninth today will mean Lewis will have to work hard to make his way through the field, if he wants to take the challenge to the Williams duo and Rosberg for the win.
But for Massa he will be delighted that he has put himself in the best position to win tomorrow’s grand prix. If he is able to win tomorrow he will have won his first race since Brazil in 2008. That race happens to also be the last race that Massa secured a pole position.
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:10.395||1:09.638||1:09.466||22|
|10||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:10.389||1:09.624||23|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:10.124||1:09.754||18|
|13||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:10.630||1:09.801||15|
|Q1 107% Time||1:14.379|