Hamilton takes Styrian GP pole position in heavy rain
Lewis Hamilton was in scintillating form as he took a stunning pole position in treacherous wet conditions at the Styrian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was a remarkable 1.216 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who spun as he tried to beat Hamilton’s time.
Carlos Sainz took an excellent third place for McLaren as first-race winner Valtteri Bottas was fourth. Renault’s Esteban Ocon was fifth, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Hamilton’s wet weather skills
The start of qualifying was delayed by 46 minutes as a storm front hit the Styrian mountains, but Hamilton was the man to beat once the cars took to a streaming wet track.
In the wettest conditions seen in a Formula 1 qualifying session for some time, Hamilton was fastest in all three sessions, underlining the wet-weather skills he has shown through out his career.
Verstappen threw everything at Hamilton on his final lap, having moments at Turn Five and Turn Seven before losing control completely with a spin at Turn Nine.
Hamilton was already 0.787secs clear of the field as he headed into the final lap of the session but he pulled out another huge performance on his final lap to take another half-second off his own best time.
“What a tricky day,” he said. “The weather’s obviously incredibly difficult for all of us.
“A lot of the time you can’t even see where you’re going. I had one big moment the lap before the last, a big aquaplane, but I was able to improve on the last lap. I love these days.
“I hear tomorrow is going to be a much more sunny day and we have prepared for both conditions.”
McLaren excel again
The starting positions give Hamilton a good chance of closing the 13-point lead team-mate Bottas built with his victory in the first race of the season on the same track last weekend.
The Finn was a sobering 1.428secs slower than his team-mate in the demanding conditions and beaten by a strong performance by Sainz.
The Spaniard achieved his career-best grid position, making it two weekends in a row in which a McLaren has started a race third, after Norris was promoted a place by a grid penalty for Hamilton.
Norris will be demoted three places on the grid as a result of a penalty for overtaking when passing yellow caution flags in Friday practice so will start the race ninth.
Ferrari had another dismal day, Charles Leclerc failing to make it into the final top 10 shoot-out in 11th place. Team-mate Sebastian Vettel did make the final session but was slowest and 10th.
But it was a good day for Williams’ George Russell, who made it into the second knock-out session for the first time and will start an impressive 12th. (BBC Sport)