Rich Energy Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified fifth and 11th, respectively, for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, the ninth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.
Magnussen was assessed a five-position grid penalty for a gearbox change following today’s FP3 session and will start Sunday’s race from 10th.
Grosjean led the way for the Haas F1 Team duo in Q1 with a 10th-fastest lap of 1:04.552 around the 4.318-kilometer (2.683-mile), 10-turn circuit to advance to Q2. Magnussen’s lap of 1:04.778 was 15th-fastest and was the final position to advance to Q2.
In Q2, Magnussen took the 10th and final position to advance to Q3 with a lap of 1:04.466. Grosjean, who had to pit early in the session to replace a damaged front wing, just missed his fourth top-10 qualifying effort of the season with the 11th-fastest lap of 1:04.490.
Magnussen laid down a solid lap of 1:04.072 in Q3 that was fifth overall – his best effort of the season. It was a best-of-the-rest effort that placed him behind a pole-winning Ferrari, a Red Bull and the Mercedes pair.
Magnussen and Grosjean ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Red soft tire throughout qualifying.
Taking the pole for the Austrian Grand Prix was Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, whose fast Q3 lap of 1:03.003 bested the track record of 1:03.130 set in Q3 last year by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. It was his second career pole and second this season. Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was .259 of a second behind to take the second position on the grid.
Romain Grosjean: “I’m happy with qualifying. I was hoping to go into Q3, but I didn’t get a tow on my lap which cost a little bit. I had a lot of understeer in turn three, I lost a couple of tenths there, but I was fast everywhere else.
“It’s a bit annoying, but these tires are hard to understand, and I haven’t got the feeling yet in qualifying for them as I do in the race. I think we’ve made a good step forward though this weekend. 11th is not a bad place to start. I can choose my tires to start the race. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Kevin Magnussen: “When it’s working, it’s working. I don’t know where that lap came from. It was there, and I took it. Today the guys have just worked so hard between FP3 and qualifying to get the gearbox changed. It wasn’t only my side of the garage, the other side came to help on my car too, to help get it ready.
“We have a few guys out injured this weekend as well, but everybody just pulled it together. After a few bad races, and a couple of bad qualifying’s, it’s nice to do this. We’re starting in the points, in the top ten, even with the penalty. If you’d asked us before qualifying if we’d have believed that, it would have been no way. I’m very happy.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: “It was a difficult morning for us. In FP3 we had to change the gearbox on Kevin’s (Magnussen) car, so obviously he didn’t do the whole session because of that. Romain (Grosjean) did the session but it wasn’t fantastic, we did some tests. In qualifying it almost all came together. Kevin did a fantastic lap, and Romain was just a few thousandths shy.
“It shows that it’s up and down. There is no real trace to it, in terms of what is up, and what is down – otherwise we’d follow the up trace. We just have to keep learning from all of this and try to make it happen every weekend. Anyway, Kevin did a fantastic job today with his last lap – it was magic.”
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