Max claimed his and the Team’s best ever qualifying position at its home race in Austria, with the Dutch driver taking third place behind polesitter Charles Leclerc and second-placed Lewis Hamilton. Pierre, meanwhile, was forced to settle for P9 in qualifying after failing to improve on his first-run time of the final session.
Ferrari led the way in the opening stages of Q1, with both Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel using medium tyres. Leclerc topped the order in the early exchanges, setting a time of 1:04.138. Max, on soft tyres, then worked his way down to a time of 1:04.339 to split the red cars, with Vettel one thousandth of a second behind ahead of the final runs. Pierre, meanwhile, opened his account confidently, setting a time of 1:04.412 to sit in P4.
It was a quieter opening for Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, fifth and seventh respectively. And as the championship-leading pair began to slide backwards, with Bottas dropping to 12thas rivals improved, they were forced into final runs that eventually boosted them to P2 and P3 respectively.
Max, too, decided that he needed a final outing in the session and the Dutch driver took a big step forward to steal P1 with a time of 1:03.807, 0.011 ahead of Hamilton and two tenths clear of Bottas.
Behind them, Leclerc and Vettel stayed with their medium times to progress in P4 and P5 respectively, while McLaren’s Lando Norris took sixth ahead of Pierre who also stayed in the garage for the final runs.
At the bottom of the order there was no late jump up for Racing Point drivers Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll, and the Mexican was eliminated in P16 ahead of his Canadian teammate. Ruled out in P18 was Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, although the stewards were to investigate whether he had been impeded by 19thplaced George Russell of Williams after the session. Robert Kubica in the second Williams was also eliminated, in P20.
Also set to be investigated after the session was Lewis Hamilton, with Alfa Romeo suggesting that the Mercedes driver impeded Kimi Räikkönen in the closing stages of Q1.
In the second session, Max was first on track, and with medium tyres on board the Dutchman powered to an excellent time of 1:03.835. The time was quickly passed by Leclerc and Vettel, with the Monegasque driver in P1, but both were on soft tyres. In the end it was only Hamilton who managed to edge Max out of P3, the Briton using medium tyres to beat Max by three hundredths of a second. Valtteri Bottas took fifth place behind Max, and the Finn was the only other driver to progress to Q3 on mediums.
Pierre eased into the top-10 shootout on a time of 1:03.988 set on soft tyres and the Frenchman took sixth place ahead of Räikkönen, the second Alfa of Antonio Giovinazzi, McLaren’s Lando Norris and 10th-placed Kevin Magnussen of Haas.
Eliminated at this stage were the second Haas of Romain Grosjean, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz.
And there was no dislodging Leclerc from top spot in the final session. The Ferrari driver set a commanding pace in the first runs to head Bottas by three tenths of a second, with Max in P3. And despite improvements from Hamilton and Max, Leclerc found more pace again in the final runs to take his second career pole position with a time of 1:03.003, 0.259 ahead of Hamilton.
Max, meanwhile, took third place to equal his best qualifying position of the season (from Monaco) and his time of 1:03.439, just under two tenths of a second behind Hamilton.
Bottas was left with fourth place, while Kevin Magnussen was an impressive fifth for Haas ahead of Norris and the Alfa Romeo of Räikkönen and Giovinazzi.
Pierre, though, was unable to improve on his first run time of 1:04.199 and was forced to settle for ninth place. Pierre, though, will start in P8 as Magnussen is set for a grid penalty. Tenth place went to Vettel, who failed to get out in Q3 due to a mechanical issue.