The “Force” is strong with Lewis Hamilton at the Red Bull Ring in tricky Qualifying weather
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News July 02, 2016 Updated: 2:23 PM
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton showed how strong his force powers were while Stars Wars creator George Lucas watches the “Jedi Knight of F1” take his 54th career pole at the Austrian Grand Prix in tricky weather conditions that produced a mixed grid for Sunday's race.
“As a driver I’m someone who brakes nice and deep and here you have to lift off the accelerator early, keeping your minimum speed high, which is not something I’m used to doing. The track dries up so quickly here – it’s a great feature of this circuit and made qualifying really interesting,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg set the second fastest time, but will be bumped down to sixth once his 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change is applied. That will move Nico Hulkenberg to the front row of the grid for Force India and Jenson Button in third as Sebastian Vettel will also move down due to a 5-place grid penalty after setting the fourth fastest time.
“It was a tricky session with the rain and the perfect lap didn’t quite come together which meant Lewis was quicker. The five place grid penalty will be costly as Lewis will start from the front tomorrow and it will be tough to fight through the other cars with the ultra-soft,” said Rosberg.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen will start fourth ahead the RedBull’s of Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and Valtteri Bottas in sixth for Williams. Ricciardo’s teammate, Max Verstappen will move up one spot to eighth, and Felipe Massa will stay in tenth place behind Vettel.
As rain begin to fall in Q3, all the drivers decided to head out on intermediate tires. As lap times begin to fall from a quickly drying track, Hamilton came out on top with his final run on ultra-softs showing once again his instinct to deal with tricky weather conditions.
Haas F1 driver, Esteban Gutierrez just missed Q3 by 0.006s and will start 11th ahead of Pascal Wehrlein, who finished with a career-best 12th place. Romain Grosjean finished 13th for Haas F1 ahead of Fernando Alonso in 14th for McLaren-Honda. Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz suffered an unfortunate engine failure at the end of Q1 and was unable to set a time in Q2, which leaves him to start 15th.
Aside from tricky weather, there were also a string of suspension failures, among those were Nico Rosberg, Daniil Kvyat, and Sergio Perez. Perez was able to nurse his car back to the pits, but the team were unable to fix the car quickly, leaving him to start 16th.
Daniil Kvyat’s suspension failure had everyone’s heart stop. As the Toro Rosso's suspension broke, Kvyat strayed on to the yellow kerbs on the outside of the track with the right-rear suspension giving way, effectively steering the car from the rear towards the inside of the track and towards the tire barrier that divides the track from the pit lane.
Kvyat was able to walk away from the accident but ended his qualifying session. He will start 20th.
“I went on the outside kerb at turn 8 and the right suspension failed. The crash was unavoidable, but fortunately I’m okay. It’s being a tough weekend so far and we have a lot of things to analyse, but I’m sure that, with hard work, we can get on top of things by tomorrow,” said Kvyat.
Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, for Renault also dropped out in the session as well as Rio Haryanto, Marcus Ericsson, and Felipe Nasr.