Max on pole at the Red Bull Ring isn't the biggest story of the day. After an FP1 and Q1/Q2 of Mercedes looking quick, disaster struck the Silver Arrows in Q3.
With both cars looking quick, and genuinely challenging for the front two rows, both Lewis and George sent their W13's into the wall while on fast laps in the third session of qualifying for the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix. After two strong sessions, Lewis had set the fastest times of the day, going purple, in sector one before backing out in Sector 2 on two separate occasions. On his third attempt, it appeared that Lewis carried a little too much speed into the entry of Turn 7, causing him to lose grip in this fairly high-speed turn. A rare mistake from a driver who hasn't crashed out of qualifying since Brazil in 2017. Unfortunately for the British driver, there was not much he could do to catch it, and went sideways into the wall, causing the first red flag session of the day. Thankfully, Lewis walked away without injury but the same could not be said about his car which suffered significant damage to both the front and rear ends. Sideways impacts are always quite destructive and will require a late night in the garage from the Mercedes team to find, evaluate, and fix the extensive damage to the car.
With Lewis' car back in the garage, the attention turned to first-year Mercedes driver George Russell who hasn't been out-qualified by a teammate at the Red Bull Ring during his tenure in F1. Russell was unable to match the speed of his teammate in Sector 1, but was laying in a solid Sector 2 before losing the rear of the car going into the final turn. Causing the second red flag of the session, stopping the clock at 2:31. His last quickest lap was fast enough to qualify in P5, a result he surely hopes to keep pending the evaluation of his car, and most importantly, his gearbox.
We're still awaiting news of the extent that each car is damaged, but it's shaping up to be a long night for the Mercedes engineers. With any luck, the Red Bull Ring should be well-stocked with cans of Red Bull, and I wouldn't put it past Christian Horner to send a case over their way to help motivate them.
We resumed qualifying with what was essentially a one-lap shootout for pole position. Despite finding two-tenths in Sector 1, and a blistering Sector 2, Leclerc was only able to hold the provisional pole for a few corners until Max Verstappen was able to cross the line beating Leclerc by a narrow margin of 29 hundredths of a second. Sainz looked quick but was unable to match the pace of Max nor his teammate, qualifying third ahead of Sergio Perez.
Haas had a great day, setting top 10 times in FP1 which they successfully translated into both cars reaching Q3. Kevin Magnussen once again bested his teammate, qualifying in P7 with Mick less than a tenth behind him in P8. Following a double points weekend in Silverstone, the Haas crew seemingly has improved their understanding of their car enough to work their way back up the grid. They still remain the only team that has not yet introduced any upgrades to the car, beyond track-specific parts. A great sign of things to come for the American team.
UPDATE: Sergio Perez was found to have gone outside of the white line in Q2. The FIA has deleted all of his Q3 times and he will start from 10th place for Saturday's sprint race.
SECOND UPDATE: Sergio Perez will now start in P13 after confirming the Q2 lap will not count. Common FIA, get your shit together. I’ve got better things to do than constantly update an article because you can’t make up your mind. *rant over*
Here is how qualifying shook out, setting the grid for tomorrow's sprint race.
2022 Austrian Grand Prix Qualifying Results:
Max Verstappen - Redbull: 1:04.984
Charles Leclerc - Ferrari: 1:05.013
Carlos Sainz Jr. - Ferrari: 1:05.066
George Russell - Mercedes: 1:05.431
Esteban Ocon - Alpine: 1:05.726
Kevin Magnussen - Haas: 1:05.726
Mick Schumacher - Haas: 1:06.011
Fernando Alonso - Alpine: 1:06.103
Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes: 1:13.151
Pierre Gasly - Alpha Tauri: 1:06.160
Alex Albon - Williams: 1:06.230
Valteri Bottas - Alpha Romero: 1:06.319
Sergio Perez - Red Bull: 1:05.404 (Q2 and Q3 Times and 4th Place Starting Position Deleted for White Line Infringement )
Yuki Tsunoda - Alpha Tauri: 1:06.851
Lando Norris - McLaren: 1:25.847
Daniel Riccardo - McLaren: 1:06.613
Lance Stroll - Aston Martin: 1:06.847
Nicholas Latifi - Williams: 1:07.003
Sebastian Vettel - Aston Martin: 1:07.083