Max Verstappen bagged his seventh pole position today highlighting the importance of a strong initial Q3 run as both Mercedes drivers stumbled, and it was made well known by the huge and loud Verstappen ‘Orange Army’.
Let’s crunch the numbers from the qualifying session and figure out what really went on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring.
Development Progress: Year on Year Battles (2021 v. Fastest Previous Qualifying Lap)
Development Progress: Week to Week Battles (Styrian GP vs Austrian GP)
- -0.614 | Haas Ferrari
- -0.352 | McLaren Mercedes
- -0.170 | Aston Martin Mercedes
- -0.131 | Alfa Romeo Ferrari
- -0.129 | AlphaTauri Honda
- -0.121 | Red Bull Honda
- -0.118 | Williams Mercedes
- -0.102 | Alpine
- -0.087 | Ferrari
- -0.021 | Mercedes
Red Bull Honda vs Mercedes & The Numbers
It was pole number seven for Max Verstappen, third in a row for the ultra-fast Dutchman looking to become the first F1 driver in history to sweep a triple header tomorrow. It was likely the loudest of his career as well as an incredible Verstappen fan club attendance; the ‘Orange Army’ not only turned out, but turned up the volume during qualifying cheering their driver to pole position.
Hamilton was once again left to lose alongside his team Mercedes. Not only are they having an astoundingly bad season pertaining to year on year development losses, they were the least progressed team from the Styrian GP just one week ago to the Austrian GP this week at the same circuit. Mercedes ranked last in overall lap time progression. It’s absolutely baffling how poorly things have unfolded this year for the German squad.
The progress chart above shows comparisons from each team’s fastest lap today, compared to their respective fastest lap in previous years. Changes are not much different from last week in Styrian GP qualifying with Williams and AlphaTauri leading the way dipping into negative lap time progression while everyone else was just a touch slower than previous years.
More importantly this week were comparisons to last week which provided a new element of interpretation of pace. Miraculously, Haas led the session in overall progression, 0.614s faster than last week suggesting they did not extract the full potential from their VF-21 fighter compared to last week. It was much of the same for McLaren as they missed putting their MCL35B challenger on pole by less than a car length.
In terms of the Red Bull v. Mercedes numbers, if last week wasn’t bad enough for Mercedes, Red Bull managed to put another tenth between themselves and their rival Mercedes. Similar to last week, both Hamilton and Bottas failed to connect in the first sector, well behind the top trio and never able to recover throughout the lap despite a marginal purple middle sector from Bottas. The cumulative result see’s Mercedes best qualifier and newly re-signed Mercedes number one, Lewis Hamilton barely hanging on to a second row starting position. Hamilton will launch off the line fourth, from a distance of 24m behind the pole sitting RB16B car of Verstappen on the grid for the Austrian GP.
Top Five Battle Best Laps
The Fastest Sector of All Drivers
The Drivers Personal Best Sector
The Drivers Non-Personal Best Sector
Best Lap Comparison
|Driver||Sector 1||Sector 2||Sector 3||
Verstappen +0.029 in S1 & +0.001 in S3 to Personal Best [and Purple]
Perez +0.041 in S2 to PB
Hamilton +0.021 in S3 to PB
Bottas +0.025 in S1 & +0.005 in S3 to PB
- -0.951 | Norris DEF. Ricciardo
- -0.642 | Russell DEF. Latifi
- -0.579 | Alonso DEF. Ocon
- -0.524 | Schumacher DEF. Mazepin
- -0.270 | Verstappen DEF. Perez
- -0.227 | Giovinazzi DEF. Raikkonen
- -0.166 | Gasly DEF. Tsnunoda
- -0.054 | Vettel DEF. Stroll
- -0.041 | Sainz DEF. Leclerc
- -0.035 | Hamilton DEF. Bottas
Lucky Thirteen Drivers Covered By Less Than A Second [Again]
Just as in the Styrian GP qualifying session, 13 cars qualified within a second of Verstappen. Ferrari were notably swallowed up with both drivers missing out on the Q3 final segment of qualifying after confidently attempting to advance on the medium compound tyre, similar to that of the leaders. Unfortunately, Ferrari continue to chase Saturday qualifying pace after having lost their Saturday form since Charles Leclerc qualified on pole for the Azerbaijan GP four races ago.
McLaren stole the show with Lando Norris finding three and a half tenths to his best lap last week and just about took pole position in the process, missing by less than a car length. Norris stunned with exceptional hair-raising form nearly a tenth better than Verstappen in Sector 1 and nearly a full second ahead of McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo over the course of their respective best laps.
Mr. Saturday, Williams driver George Russell turned his missed Q3 run by only 0.008s last week into a success this week, going on to an eventual qualifying position of ninth compared to 18th of 20 for his Canadian teammate Nicholas Latifi. In the lead up to the Austrian GP, two-time World Champion Alpine driver Fernando Alonso stated that only the fast cars have the luxury of running a one compound harder tyre in Q2 and thereby have an advantage in the race by starting on a harder tyre in the race where the midfield don’t get that luxury. George Russell is well known for defying the odds on Saturday, the young Brit managed to buy a ticket into the final phase of qualifying delivering an impressive Q2 lap in spectacular fashion while on the same tyre compund as the leaders in the second worst car on the grid, doing exactly what Alonso suggested was not feasible.
Williams are currently in a championship battle just two points behind Alfa Romeo and even on zero points with Haas. A points finish is desperately needed in their fight to get off the bottom of the championship standings.
- Fernando Alonso was 0.384s slower in Q2 than he was in Q1
- Pierre Gasly & Yuki Tsnoda are in a great striking position to maximize points for AlphaTauri.
Qualifying Order – Teams Pace Battle
- +0.000 | Red Bull Honda
- +0.048 | McLaren Mercedes
- +0.294 | Mercedes
- +0.387 | AlphaTauri Honda
- +0.752 | Alpine
- +0.773 | Aston Martin Mercedes
- +0.833 | Williams Mercedes
- +0.839 | Ferrari
- +1.062 | Alfa Romeo Ferrari
- +1.707 | Haas Ferrari
The Easter Egg
A Mercedes v. Honda showdown took place in Q3 as Renault and Ferrari powered teams failed to make the cut. Wow!