Lewis Hamilton produced a magnificent performance to claim a dominant pole position in a wet and chaotic qualifying session at the Styrian Grand Prix. (More Sports News)
Mercedes driver Hamilton bounced back from a disappointing weekend at the Red Bull Ring in the opening round to finish 1.216 seconds clear of Max Verstappen with a time of 1:19.273.
Carlos Sainz claimed a superb third for McLaren, with Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas having to settle for fourth after his win in the Austrian Grand Prix at the same circuit last week.
It was another disappointing day for Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel coming 10th and Charles Leclerc missing out in Q3 to start 11th.
Behind Bottas, Esteban Ocon was fifth for Renault and while Lando Norris finished sixth, he has a three-place grid penalty for overtaking under yellow flags in practice.
That means Alex Albon will join Ocon on row three, with Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo also receiving promotions up the grid.
Qualifying was in major doubt after torrential rain in Austria, which had earlier led to the cancellation of FP3.
After a 46-minute delay, Q1 began amid constantly changing track conditions and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who had starred in Friday practice, was the biggest casualty with a red flag halting the first session just before the close after a crash for Antonio Giovinazzi.
Rain was still falling for Q2, where Hamilton was again top as Ferrari endured a difficult session as the conditions worsened.
Leclerc found himself outside the top 10 and could not improve as he was edged out by Vettel in a reversal to what happened last week when the Monegasque made the final shoot-out at the expense of his team-mate.
A frantic Q3 saw the order repeatedly change, with Verstappen leading the way with two minutes to go.
Hamilton, who topped all three sessions, then produced a superb effort to move more than seven tenths clear, before going even better to claim pole after Red Bull’s Verstappen had spun at the final corner as he looked poised to go close.
Ocon went third before Sainz usurped him, only for a scrambling Bottas to split the two and ensure he will at least be in touch with the leaders.
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:19.273
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.216s
3. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1.398s
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +1.428s
5. Esteban Ocon (Renault) +1.649s
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.652s (has three-place grid penalty)
7. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +1.738s
8. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) +1.755s
9. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1.919s
10. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +2.378s