Lewis Hamilton destroys competition in Qualifying for the Styrian F1 Race
What a qualifying. What a lap from Lewis Hamilton. Wow, that was fabulous to watch. In very difficult wet conditions we saw a masterclass from Lewis Hamilton where he decimated the opposition during qualifying. Fortunately the F1 bosses allowed qualifying to happen as many thought the conditions were too treacherous. And what a treat it was.
In extremely difficult and wet conditions, Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes finished 1.2 seconds ahead of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen. Verstappen was on a quick lap that might have gotten close to Lewis but he lost control of his car in the final corner and didn't post a quicker time. Lewis Hamilton was on track behind Max and was going even faster so even if Max had posted a final time, he still wouldn't have beaten Lewis. Lewis delivered a masterclass of both understanding the track conditions as well as using his immense ability.
Besides Sainz, the big winner of qualifying in the Top 10 has to be by Renault driver Esteban Ocon. After a point scoring yet average drive in the first race of the season, Ocon showed his true worth during qualifying today. Admittedly if the weather predictions are to be believed, the race will be dry tomorrow and it will take an extraordinary effort for Ocon to finish in the top 5 on merit. He has much faster cars behind who will be chasing hard so expect some hairy racing.
The 2nd Red Bull driver, Alexander Albon will start 6th and yet again quite a distance off his teammate but we know the Red Bull driver is very calm and we also know that the car is quick in any conditions. Expect a fast charge from Albon tomorrow.
Another star performance during qualifying was by Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly. This guy impresses me every time he gets into a car. He will have a great fight to keep the Renault and Ferrari drivers behind him.
Daniel Ricciardo had a big off on Friday during Free Practise and perhaps that explains his difficult qualifying but he was beaten by his team mate and that won't impress him. Ricciardo needs reliability and a strong race tomorrow to keep that smile on his face.
Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz exchanged quickest lap times during all 3 sessions of qualifying and the difference between 3rd and 9th was only 0.3 of a second. Lando made one or two mistakes and hie 3 place penalty for overtaking under yellow flags in Fp2 on Friday will make him angry. He had a brilliant race last week and if the conditions are dry tomorrow it will take a mighty effort to finish in the points and in the top 8. He will start 12th tomorrow.
It was another nightmare qualifying for the Scuderia Ferrari team. For the 2nd race in a row they lost one of their drivers before the top 10 shoot out. With a new front wing, Ferrari expected an improvement this weekend and if anything they have gone backwards. Sebastien Vettel made the Top 10 and only managed to qualify in 10th a massive 2.4 seconds behind pole sitter Lewis Hamilton.
And now the disappointments and one super-hero.
The Super-Hero without a doubt is George Russell. this was the first time that Williams have made Q2 of qualifying since the 2018 Brazilian GP. Russell is a mighty talent and deserves a much better seat in F1. What a quali for him and I hope he can have a few great battles tomorrow.
The disappointments include Charles Leclerc as well as the Ferrari PU. Out of the six Ferrari powered cars, five finished in the bottom 10 including the two slowest cars on the grid. Ferrari are desperate to get their engine faster as all their teams are suffering terribly.
A big disappointment for this qualifying has got to be the two Racing Point driver's performances. This car should be well within the top 10 and for both cars to be starting 13th and 17th must be a worry for the team. I do expect them to have a strong race tomorrow but qualifying was very poor today.
I don't see anyone being able to challenge Lewis Hamilton tomorrow. All the drivers can choose whatever tyre they want to start on for tomorrow's race so there is no advantage for anyone.
We might see a SC or two like in the first race but I predict a much more straight forward race tomorrow. This is a race that Valtteri has got to get into the top 3 or top 2 to keep the pressure on Lewis.