Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hamilton storms to Styrian GP pole despite downpour




Hamilton storms to Styrian GP pole despite downpour

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes delivered one of his greatest qualifying performances in rain-swept conditions to capture the pole position at the Styrian Grand Prix on Saturday. AFP

Hamilton storms to Styrian GP pole despite downpour

Defending six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton delivered one of his greatest qualifying performances in treacherous rain-swept conditions on Saturday when he stormed to pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver, who struggled in practice on Friday, bounced back to his best with a fastest lap in one minute and 19.273 seconds, outpacing nearest rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull by a stunning 1.2 seconds.

His performance confirmed his enduring class on a day when heavy rainstorms had delayed the session by 45 minutes and forced the cancellation of third practice.

It was his third pole success at the Red Bull Ring circuit, the 89th of his career and confirmed his reputation as a great driver in the wettest conditions.

“What a tricky day,” said Hamilton.

“It was so difficult for all of us with this weather and some of the time you can’t see where you are going, but I loved it – though I did have a big aquaplane and had my heart in my mouth.”

Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz was third for McLaren ahead of Valtteri Bottas, winner of last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix at the same circuit, in the second Mercedes, Esteban Ocon of Renault and Lando Norris in the second McLaren.

Norris, however, will drop three places on the grid after taking a penalty on Friday for ignoring yellow flags in opening practice.

That will elevate Alex Albon, who was seventh in the second Red Bull, Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri and Daniel Ricciardo, ninth in the second Renault, but leave Sebastian Vettel 10th in the leading Ferrari on another difficult day for the Italian team.

‘I can’t see a thing’

His team-mate Charles Leclerc qualified 11th.

Leclerc, however, was later penalised three places on the grid for blocking Kvyat.

After a 45-minute delay, Q1 began with Vettel first out for Ferrari.

Both the four-time champion and Bottas were promptly told that the rain would intensify, making it vital to record a “banker” lap, in case the conditions deteriorated seriously.

“I can’t see a thing,” said Verstappen as Vettel clocked a time soon trimmed by his rivals, including George Russell of Williams, the best lap time descending rapidly as plumes of spray lifted water off the asphalt.

Having been trapped 19th, Hamilton jumped to the top to be replaced by Leclerc and then Bottas and Verstappen in succession as others, including Ocon and Grosjean, slithered off and recovered.

After his travails in Friday’s practice, Hamilton was sensational.

“Just leave me to it,” he told his engineer on team radio as he pulled clear before Antonio Giovinazzi crashed at Turn 10, recovered and then parked his Alfa Romeo.

His exit brought red flags out with seconds remaining, a move that meant early elimination for both the Italian and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen along with Sergio Perez of Racing Point, Williams rookie Nicholas Latifi and Romain Grosjean of Haas.

Perez had been fastest in opening free practice on Friday morning.

All this meant Russell delivered Williams’ first Q2 appearance since the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix, a welcome tonic for the struggling former champions.

Vettel was first out for Q2, but without the pace to worry the front-runners as Verstappen duelled with Hamilton and both Ferraris struggled, Leclerc failing to make the top-10 cut.

The Monegasque qualified 11th one place ahead of the remarkable Russell, claiming his career-best starting spot, ahead of Lance Stroll’s Racing Point, Daniil Kvyat of Alpha Tauri and Kevin Magnussen of Haas.

Verstappen led the way in the final shootout.

“There’s a lot more water down,” warned Hamilton as he clocked 1:21.800 to set the pace, his extreme wet tyres visibly shedding water.

Hamilton took control with a surge of rapid laps before the Dutchman responded but spun off in a final flurry of late high-speed action.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15