Austrian F1 Grand Prix 2019 Qualifying: Saturday's Results, Times, Final Grid

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2019

Ferrari's Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc enters his car before the third practice session of the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix in Spielberg on June 29, 2019. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/Getty Images

Charles Leclerc took pole position for the 2019 Formula One Austrian Grand Prix after finishing fastest in qualifying on Saturday. He set a track record to finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

It's Ferrari's first pole in Austria since 2003, and it was earned on a day when Mercedes struggled, despite Lecler's teammate Sebastian Vettel being ruled out of Q3 thanks to a mechanical failure.

Hamilton had finished on the front row, but that isn't where he'll start Sunday's race after he was hit with a penalty for blocking off Kimi Raikkonen in Q1.

Earlier in the day, Leclerc edged out Hamilton to go fastest in the third and final practice session.

Leclerc's best mark of one minute, 3.987 seconds came after Hamilton had initially closed the gap on the Monegasque to one-hundredth of a second. Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas was in third, with Leclerc's Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in fourth.

      

FP3 Recap

Here are the standings after final practice at the Red Bull Ring:

Given the amount of mistakes made by the drivers in the final stages of Friday's action, it was no surprise to see the big-hitters were tentative in the first portion of FP3.

A brisk lap from Bottas set the rest into motion, though, with Leclerc again enhancing his reputation as one of the best prospects in the sport.

The 21-year-old was the fastest man on track after the first set of qualification simulation runs, with Hamilton only able to get within 0.010 seconds of the Ferrari starlet.

As BBC Sport's Andrew Benson noted, there was little to separate the leading contenders:

As he did on Friday, Leclerc was able to go up another level. While the rest of the drivers were thinking about winding down ahead of qualifying, he punched in a time of 1:03.987 to put some daylight between himself and Hamilton.

The F1 Twitter account outlined where Leclerc was able to gain an edge over the defending champion:

Per Autosport Live, while there doesn't appear to be much between the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers this weekend, Red Bull are lagging behind after another tough session:

With Red Bull likely to be looking over their shoulder this weekend, McLaren have the speed to force their way into the top six. Lando Norris split Verstappen and Pierre Gasly to finish sixth in the session; Carlos Sainz, who will serve a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday, was eighth.

      

Q1

A testy opening to Q1 saw Raikkonen claim Hamilton blocked him off on the approach to Turn 2, and the stewards took note of the incident.

Leclerc set the fastest lap over the first and third sectors, with Gasly and Verstappen also impressing. The latter posted the third-fastest lap.

Vettel couldn't go faster than Ferrari team-mate Leclerc, but he was still quicker than Gasly and Hamilton's times. The Ferrari drivers were thriving on the medium compound tyres, but Verstappen eventually split the pair as he improved his time.

Things weren't running as smoothly for Mercedes, with both Hamilton and Bottas sent out to do another run. The Silver Arrows made the most of a do-over, flying through the middle sector to move into the top three but still behind Verstappen, who had gone fastest after a superb run.

    

Q2

Verstappen continued to catch the eye in Q2, but so did Leclerc, who had switched to the soft tyres but still went fastest during the first sector.

By contrast, Hamilton was still struggling. He was more than two-tenths of a second slower than Leclerc as the fifth-fastest driver on the track.

Hamilton's plight had Mercedes thinking about going on to the softs. The championship leader was also bemoaning a lack of speed on the straights in what was proving to be an unusually trying qualifying session for Mercedes.

Things were going better for Alfa Romeo, who moved into the top 10 after fine runs from Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi ensured their places in Q3.

While Leclerc had finished quickest, Ferrari were scrambling to fix a problem with Vettel's car. The team crowded around the vehicle after Q2 and didn't let cameras see what was going on.

      

Q3

Hamilton and Bottas traded provisional pole before Leclerc destroyed the Mercedes' times. Verstappen then split the Silver Arrows' drivers.

Leclerc was on provisional pole, but Vettel was now officially out of qualifying as his team was frustratingly unable to get a car with a pace advantage back on to the track.

Hamilton got back on the front row with a swift final lap, but neither he nor Bottas could prevent Leclerc from taking pole.

The 21-year-old was naturally happy with the result, but he remains aware of the challenge lying in wait on Sunday:

As for Hamilton, he is determined not to give up ground easily to the young pretenders looking to overtake him as the driver to beat:

Hamilton's chances of seeing off this latest challenge have been hit by the penalty, making Sunday a golden opportunity for Leclerc to help Ferrari close the gap.

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