The four-time world champion drives a strong qualifying – but then there is a fateful encounter with an old rival. Upfront, Max Verstappen lands the subsequent success in a duel with defending champion Lewis Hamilton.
Bitter qualifying for Sebastian Vettel at the Austrian Grand Prix: The Aston Martin driver drove intense laps on the track in Spielberg, made it into the top 10, was even among the top six at times – but then there was a momentous incident in Q2: Vettel unintentionally blocked the approaching Alpine pilot Fernando Alonso, who was currently on a solid lap – an apparent mistake in team communication, the four-time world champion should have been informed from the command post that Alonso was approaching. Alonso’s strong lap was over. The Spaniard even fell out of the top 10, finished 14th in the end – and was pissed off.
The race management investigated the incident. Vettel has to start three positions further back and start the race from the eleventh instead of the eighth. “I can not do so much in the situation. I can not vanish into thin air,” said Vettel afterward. Other drivers would have behaved similarly.
Alonso saw it a little differently. “I’m very frustrated,” said the Alpine driver, for whom a starting place in the top six would have been possible. Vettel then apologized.
Next blow for Hamilton
In the front, Max Verstappen secured the next pole in the title fight with his Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, who only finished fourth. “We just lack a bit of speed. We have to find more performance for the next races,” said the seven-time champion and added: “That could be an easy win for Max.” McLaren youngster Lando Norris surprisingly came second in front of Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez. Mick Schumacher left early again. For the Formula 1 newcomer, the Haas racing car was no more than 19th place, just like in the previous week.