LeClerc Wins Austrian Grand Prix Pole, Hamilton, Vettel Have Issues

Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix (9 a.m. ET/ESPN) could be a race that shakes things up in Formula One. Through the first eight races run in 2019, Mercedes has won all eight of them. They’ve also finished 1-2 in six of the eight as well.

Also, heading into this weekend’s race, Mercedes had won four of the last five races at the Red Bull Ring. So, why would we bet against them for Sunday’s 71 lap race?

Well, it’s because they’ve played second fiddle this weekend and after a bizarre qualifying round on Saturday, the lineup has four different teams in the top four starting spots led by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The second year driver set a track record with a lap of 1:03.003-seconds in his No. 16 Ferrari for his second pole of 2019. That shouldn’t come to any surprise though as he was quickest in each of the two days of practice too. What is a surprise is that his teammate Sebastian Vettel had a mechanical problem in Q3 and will only start 10th.

The other surprise is that there isn’t a Mercedes on the front row. Lewis Hamilton initially qualified second but he faces a three spot grid penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen during his qualifying run. Hamilton, goes from second to fifth now in his No. 44 Mercedes.

That moves last year’s winner Max Verstappen (1:03.439-seconds) up to second in his No. 33 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda. Verstappen, was just fifth, ninth and fifth respectively in practice this weekend and even crashed his car in Turn 10 during practice on Friday. But, he rebounded to what he thought was a third place starting spot but with Hamilton’s penalty, he moves to the front row.

Valtteri Bottas starts third in his No. 77 Mercedes after qualifying with a time of 1:03.537-seconds. He won this race in 2017 and has six top two finishes in 2019 to his credit.

Kevin Magnussen had a superb run in his No. 20 Haas Ferrari with a lap of 1:04.072-seconds. He was just ninth, 11th and 18th respectively in practice but will now roll off in Row 2.

Hamilton, starts fifth behind all of them.

The Alfa Romero team was strong in starting in Row 4 for both drivers. Lando Norris was quick yet again and starts sixth in his McLaren.

Austrian Grand Prix Starting Lineup

Row 1: Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen

Row 2: Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton

Row 3: Lando Norris R, Kimi Raikkonen

Row 4: Antonio Giovinazzi R, Pierre Gasly

Row 5, Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel

Row 6: Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo

Row 7: Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll

Row 8: Daniil Kvyat, Robert Kubica

Row 9: Nico Hulkenberg, George Russell R

Row 10: Alex Albon R, Carlos Sainz Jr.

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