Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton is 10/11 to take pole position for this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix despite a frustrating Friday, while the weather threatens to have an effect on the grid order.
Hamilton (10/11 – Styrian Grand Prix Outright) was unhappy with the performance of his Mercedes during second practice as he could only post the sixth quickest time, with Max Verstappen (3/1 – race winner) topping the timesheets.
The improved performance of the Red Bulls might not be the only issue the world champion has to contend with in qualifying on Saturday either.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast to hit the Red Bull Ring from mid-morning Saturday. If there is too much standing water on the track it could lead to the cancellation of the final practice session, scheduled for 10am, and even of the qualifying hour itself.
That’s not an unheard-of situation – last year’s Japanese Grand Prix grid was decided by a qualifying session on the morning of the race – and that would be the most likely arrangement if Saturday’s running is washed out.
However, there is a scenario in which times from Practice Two would be used to decide the grid. That would see Verstappen start from pole position with last week’s winner Valtteri Bottas second followed by the Racing Point cars of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
Verstappen said: “We had much better feelings than last Friday. We learned more about the car. We weren’t so happy last week, that’s why we tried to fix some things.
“So far, it’s much better. The direction we took seems to be the right one. I don’t know if we have the right package to win the race, we’ll find out on Sunday.”
However the grid is decided, Lando Norris will start three places lower than he qualifies after the McLaren driver was penalised for overtaking under yellow flags during practice. Norris earned his maiden Formula 1 podium finish at the circuit last week.
Hamilton trails his Mercedes teammate Bottas by 13 points in the championship after the first race. The defending world champion is the favourite to go fastest in qualifying with Bottas 9/4 and Verstappen 7/2.