• Lewis Hamilton secures pole position for Sunday's Styrian GP.
• Ferrari again failed to bring a competitive car to the race-weekend.
• Carlos Sainz qualified third for McLaren.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
The first-ever Styrian Grand Prix has been marred by torrential rain today, with qualifying looking unlikely after the third practice session was cancelled.
Lewis Hamilton managed to make the most of the adverse conditions to take pole position for tomorrow's race. He will start ahead of Red Bull rival Max Verstappen and Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz from McLaren.
The biggest shock of the session was Ferrari's Charles Leclerc failing to make it into Q3, being eliminated at the end of Q2. Overall, Ferrari had another forgetful weekend, but it was Hamilton who headlined the final results.
The start to the first qualifying session was delayed due to the heavy rain, but it eventually got underway; albeit much later than expected. The session started slowly, with drivers treading carefully as looked for grip on the wet track. The full-wet tyres were the only ones worth considering, given that it can dispense 85L of water at 300km/h! 85 versus the 30L by the intermediate tyre.
The two Ferrari drivers (Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc) were out first, but by the time Vettel got through the first sector of the lap, he had caught up with Romain Grosjean of Haas. Drivers set a time in the 1min18s, but it was (drivers) who were eliminated at the end of the session.
Lewis Hamilton topped the first part of qualifying with a time of 1:18.188.
The surprise entrant to Q2 was George Russell from Williams. The driver managed to sneak into the session and was quite elated by the achievement - no doubt a feather in the cap for him and the team.
Sebastian Vettel was the first driver to set a time, but Bottas bested him by more than two seconds. It didn't take too long for Hamilton to improve on Bottas' time either, showing the enormous amounts of pace the Mercedes has in hand. Mercedes' closest rivals, Red Bull Racing, kept them in check as Verstappen set the fastest time of the session - some 0.6 seconds faster than Hamilton's Q1 time. He would eventually improve it to 1:17.938, but Hamilton would top the session.
At the end of the session, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc failed to make it into Q3 - the second consecutive weekend it happened for Ferrari after Sebastian Vettel's poor showing last week.
Side note: Unlike a dry qualifying session, the tyre you set your fastest time on will not be used to start the race with. The full-set and intermediate tyre denounce that regulation.
With the final 12 minutes of qualifying getting underway, it was Verstappen who took to the track first. With the rain increasing and the track becoming all the more undrivable, drivers needed to set their banker laps. But Verstappen set the fastest first sector of qualifying but lost time during the other two sectors having struggled with grip. However, the rain wreaked havoc on the times!
Still, it did little to deter Bottas and Hamilton from setting the fastest times in the soaked final part of qualifying.
Drivers fought against the treacherous conditions, including Verstappen, who spun out of the session after looking like he would topple Hamilton to pole positions. In the end, Hamilton will start first after clearing Verstappen by a massive 1.2 seconds!
Qualifying times for Styrian GP (F1 / Twitter)