Round nine of the 2018 FIA F1 World Championship takes part at the picturesque Red Bull Ring, situated in the foothills of the Styrian mountains. When Saturday comes along, qualifying comes along, and today’s session was extremely competitive.
In Q1, traffic was a major issue, as you might expect from a circuit with such a short lap, and Sergio Perez was victim to this. The Mexican driver lost a heap of time towards the end of his lap, whilst also making a mistake into turn one, causing him to drop out of the session in a lowly 17th place. He was joined by Stoffel Vandoorne, Sergey Sirotkin, Brendon Hartley and Marcus Ericsson in an otherwise uneventful session.
Five different teams losing a driver in Q1 shows just how competitive Formula One’s “division two” is at the moment.
The dramatic moment of Q2 came at the end of the session. Spaniard Fernando Alonso was on a strong lap and set to improve his lap time. However, he ran wide at he final corner, bouncing across the “self-regulatory kerbs” and damaged his front wing; ruining his lap in the process. The ex-World champion finished the session in 14th place, exiting the session with Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc (who will take a five place grid penalty) and Lance Stroll.
Qualifying session three was exciting today. On the drivers’ initial runs, Lewis Hamilton ran wide and suffered terminal oversteer into turn three, and Sebastian Vettel also had a poor lap. The subsequent provisional results were; Valtteri Bottas with P1 along with Kimi Raikkonen P2, Hamilton P3 and Romain Grosjean a shock P4. Vettel was down in 7th! Will we see a mixed up grid for tomorrow’s race?! Not really, no.
The final runs restored the natural order. However, it is a nice change to see Bottas securing his first pole of the season. Credit to Grosjean too for placing his 2017 Ferrari. Sorry, 2018 Haas .. into 6th place, ahead of the struggling Daniel Ricciardo.
Bottas will line up on pole tomorrow alongside team mate Hamilton. The Ferrari’s will be on row two ahead of Grosjean and Ricciardo. Meanwhile, Magnussen will lead the two Renault’s, with Carlos Sainz ahead of Nico Hulkenberg.
How do you think the race will play out tomorrow? Will Valtteri Bottas take his first win of the season? Will Force India score any points? Will Charles Leclerc score points for the third race in a row? Will the Williams’ cars finish anywhere but 19th & 20th? Let me know your thoughts below.