As the Australian sporting landscape feels the impact of COVID-19’s second coming, the situation with the Supercars championship continues to be a fluid one ahead of the next round in the country’s Top End.
There were contingency plans in place in case F1 couldn’t go qualifying at the Red Bull Ring due to the heavy and persistent rain that was forecasted.
They weren’t needed in the end and we were treated to an incredible wet-weather session.
Throw out the form guide. It didn’t matter whether your car was the fastest.
All that mattered was whether you could keep it all under control and navigate this 4.318km long circuit as fast as possible without spinning out of contention.
One man who loves driving in the wet is Lewis Hamilton. The six-time world champion duly delivered, taking pole by a dominant 1.2 seconds.
Meanwhile, at the back, it was the same old story at Haas.
Romain Grosjean didn’t manage to set a lap time in Q1. He spent most of the session in the garage after going off the track at Turn 4. It looked like another brake-related issue with Grosjean unable to slow down enough to make the corner.
One thing to happen in Q1 that was a surprise was Sergio Perez not being able to make it to the next stage of qualifying.
The Racing Points looked strong yet again in Friday practice, but Perez struggled in qualifying, staying in the elimination zone for the entire session despite his best efforts. The Mexican lines up 17th on the grid tomorrow while his teammate Lance Stroll starts 13th.
This is definitely not where Racing Point predicted they would be on qualifying day.
Williams’ improvements were on full show today as George Russell got a Williams car through to Q2 for the first time since the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix. In the end, Russell was only 0.008 seconds slower than Charles Leclerc, who only qualified 11th in his Ferrari.
Yes, you would be perfectly correct in saying that the wet weather may have helped Williams out but there is no doubt in my mind that the car’s pace has improved.
On the subject of improvements, Ferrari have brought their upgrades planned for the next round in Hungary forward to this weekend. They haven’t worked.
Sebastian Vettel starts tenth with his teammate Leclerc right behind. It will be another difficult day for the Scuderia tomorrow, but they’ll be hoping that things go their way just like they did last weekend when Leclerc was able to finish second.
Q3 saw the trading of fastest laps between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Verstappen was on the limit in his attempt to get pole, wrestling the car through the corners. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, his chances were over when he lost the car coming out of Turn 9, with his Red Bull sent into a slide.
Meantime, Hamilton was going fastest in all three sectors, smashing his own previous best by half a second to take pole by over a second over Verstappen.
As today’s qualifying session was held in the wet, everyone has a free choice of tyres for tomorrow’s race so anything goes in terms of strategy.
Hopefully, reliability has improved so we get a full-on battle between Hamilton and Verstappen.
The midfield race is one to look forward to as always with Carlos Sainz starting up in third position and Esteban Ocon starting in fifth. Expect at least one good news story to come out of the race tomorrow.
Qualifying today can be best summed up by Lewis Hamilton’s team radio message on his cooldown lap.
“That was awesome guys.”