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“We are ready for whatever conditions” – Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso will start the Styrian Grand Prix from ninth place in what was a very mixed qualifying for the Alpine F1 Team, with Frenchman Esteban Ocon failing to get out of qualifying one.

For Alonso it was a solid qualifying, the experienced Spaniard used all his ability to qualify ninth around the short Red Bull Ring, where times are incredibly close. With qualifying in the top ten Alonso has every opportunity to finish in the points on Sunday, where the forecast remains unpredictable!

“It was a stressful qualifying with no room for mistakes, thanks to the close gaps and track limits at the last two corners. There is always room to improve but I am very happy with getting into the top ten again and finishing ninth. It gives us the possibility to score some good points tomorrow. Our forecast suggests it might rain so it is a little bit unknown heading into the race, but we are ready for whatever conditions.”

“We’re not happy today” – Esteban Ocon

For Esteban Ocon it was one of his worst qualifying sessions in his Formula 1 career so far, the Frenchman will start the race from seventeenth place leaving him with a lot of work to do.

Ocon is aware that he should not be getting eliminated from the first qualifying session and will therefore analyse what went wrong. Ocon who has recently signed a contract extension with the team, will need to find answers quickly to give him any hope of a point on Sunday.

Lance Stroll: “We have shown competitive pace in the last couple of races”

Lance Stroll said it was a good feeling to be back into Q3 for the Styrian Grand Prix, with the Canadian set to start ninth on the grid for Sunday’s race.

The Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team racer says it has been a smooth weekend so far for him, and he went into Qualifying at the Red Bull Ring with confidence that he could make it into the top ten shootout.

Stroll initially qualified tenth after making only one attempt in Q3 as he ran out of soft compound tyres, but a post-session penalty for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Yuki Tsunoda moves him up to ninth.

And after impressive performances in recent races, Stroll is confident he can score good points on Sunday afternoon in Austria.

“It is a good feeling to be back in Q3, especially when it happens after such a tight qualifying,” said Stroll.  “It was good fun out there and I think tenth [now ninth due to a rival’s penalty] was the most we could achieve today.

“We were unable to reproduce our usual performance level” – Ferrari’s Laurent Mekies

Scuderia Ferrari had one of their most difficult qualifying sessions of the season so far, with Charles Leclerc being the only Ferrari driver to make the top ten, Carlos Sainz Jr could only make twelfth.

The Styrian Grand Prix hasn’t gone according to plan for the Scuderia, the team have struggled with one lap pace, something which is usually their strength compared to their competitors.

Nevertheless Leclerc did an incredible job to make it into final qualifying and put his prancing horse in seventh place for Sunday’s race, giving him every opportunity of hauling some good points. Sainz will have to work extra hard on Sunday to recover from twelfth but Ferrari Racing Director Laurent Mekies is confident that their race pace is just as strong as their midfield rivals.

“As expected, this was a difficult session. Compared with what we have seen so far on Saturday afternoons, we were unable to reproduce our usual performance level over a single flying lap. We tackled this Grand Prix with a slightly different approach to usual, working mainly towards the race after the problems we encountered last week in France.

“That’s not a mitigating factor, because I don’t think we could have done much better than this, looking at the performance of our main rivals, but it is something to bear in mind when looking at today’s results. From what we saw yesterday, our long run pace is not bad compared to our closest competitors and we will try and exploit that tomorrow afternoon.

Neuville extends Safari Rally Kenya lead

Friday’s running of the Safari Rally Kenya was a war of attrition. However, after a much less hectic Saturday, Thierry Neuville has extended his lead to almost a minute before Sunday’s closing stages. Several of the FIA World Championship’s big names suffered difficult setbacks yesterday amidst some of the most gruelling terrains on the WRC calendar. As has become well documented, this is the first Safari Rally in the WRC for 19 years, and it returned after its two-decade absence with some ferocious bite. Dani Sordo, Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä all succumbed to the difficult stages and paid a hefty price on the timesheet. Sebastien Ogier had his share of bad luck either but remained in podium contention.

Saturday’s stages proved to be far less troublesome for the drivers on faster and more forgiving surfaces around Lake Elmenteita. Thierry Neuville picked up his impressive Friday form by winning the days opening stage. He extended his leading margin to 26.3 seconds of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Takamoto Katsuta as a result. The pair of Neuville and Katsuta (the latter fighting for his first WRC podium in a Toyota Yaris) traded times over the final two stages of the morning loop. Neuville extended his leading margin to 28.1 seconds heading into the afternoon service.

The star of the morning running was reigning champion Seb Ogier, who won both the Soysambu and Sleeping Warrior stages. His speed helped him fight his way back to podium contention, although the Frenchman was keen to stress that he was remaining cautious in his approach;

“It’s not a huge push, but we have to keep some pressure as much as we can do. The gaps are big, so there’s nothing you can really catch in a normal fight, but it’s Safari and so many things can happen.”

A mature approach from Ogier, who saw his deficit to 3rd Placed Ott Tänak cut down to just 37.6 seconds before the afternoon service.

Seventh place start “in line with our expectations” – Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc was the only Scuderia Ferrari to make it into final qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix, his team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr failed to make the final session and will start from twelfth.

It has been a difficult weekend for Ferrari, Leclerc has appeared to be the more comfortable of the two drivers so far in Austria which showed in qualifying. Seventh place for Leclerc isn’t the end of the world though and does open up some opportunities for the race.

Leclerc is confident that his SF21’s race pace is better than it’s one lap performance, leaving him optimistic heading into Sunday.

“P7 is not the ideal starting position, but it was in line with our expectations. Our race pace has been pretty solid this weekend, and we did not want to sacrifice it for a slightly better qualifying result. Tomorrow is what counts, and if our pace is as good as it has been so far this weekend, I am confident that we can gain some positions and bring home some good points.

“I am very happy with my lap and put everything I had into it without making mistakes. It was difficult with the traffic, especially in Q1. Then, in Q3, we decided to put on new tyres out of sync with the others to run in free air. 

AlphaTauri’s Jody Egginton: “Today has been very productive for both sides of the garage”

Jody Egginton says it has been a productive Saturday for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda at the Red Bull Ring, and they were pleased to see both Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda advance into Q3 in Qualifying.

Gasly will start the Styrian Grand Prix from sixth on the grid, while Tsunoda qualified eighth but will start eleventh after being given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Valtteri Bottas during Q2.

Egginton, the Technical Director at AlphaTauri, says it is a shame that Tsunoda took the penalty, but despite this, he knows points are scored on Sunday and they are in a good position with both cars to take top ten finishes.

“Today has been very productive for both sides of the garage,” said Egginton.  “The package is continuing to work well and respond to the set-up changes made to try and squeeze a bit more performance out of it in what is a very tight midfield.

“Pierre and his crew have done a good job to recover from the running they missed yesterday, this has culminated in a strong Qualifying performance and a well-deserved grid position for tomorrow’s race.

Pierre Gasly: “The car has been amazing all weekend and I was confident going into Qualifying”

Pierre Gasly continued his impressive Qualifying record in 2021 with another strong performance on Saturday as he took sixth place on the grid for the Styrian Grand Prix.

The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver was strong throughout the session at the Red Bull Ring and ended up less than four-tenths of a second away from Max Verstappen’s pole position time and less than two-tenths of a second away from a place on the front row.

Gasly was full of praise for the work being done by the team as they continue to show improvements race after race, and now he is aiming for a good number of points on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m really pleased with today,” said Gasly.  “We knew it wouldn’t be an easy day, after losing FP2 yesterday, but the car has been amazing all weekend and I was confident going into Qualifying.

“I think we have showed that this afternoon, we managed to get through Q2 with just one set of tyres which is really good for us, and we’re just a few tenths off the front row.

McLaren’s Andreas Seidl: “We’re looking forward to another exciting race”

Andreas Seidl was delighted with the performance of Lando Norris during Qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix on Saturday, with the Briton setting the fourth fastest time in Q3, which will translate into a third place start once Valtteri Bottas takes his three-place grid penalty.

Norris was on fire all the way through Qualifying at the Red Bull Ring and has put himself in a good position to continue his excellent points scoring run – he remains the only driver on the grid to have scored a top ten finish in each of the opening seven races.

Daniel Ricciardo on the other side of the garage had a much more difficult session, with the Australian lucky to escape Q1 before falling in Q2 – he will start down in thirteenth. 

Seidl, the Team Principal of the McLaren F1 Team, says there is a lot of potential, on both sides of the garage, to score big points on Sunday afternoon as they continue to fight with Scuderia Ferrari over third place in the Constructors’ Championship.

“P4 in quali today – translating into starting P3 tomorrow – is the best grid position we’ve achieved so far this year,” said Seidl.  “Well done to Lando, who was flying on every single lap he did, and to the team for a clean execution of the quali session.

“It’s going to be an exciting afternoon of tough racing” – Mercedes’ Toto Wolff

Team Principal at the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Toto Wolff, is expecting a very tough but exciting Styrian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton starting second and Valtteri Bottas in fifth.

Yet again it will be Hamilton alongside Max Verstappen on the front row of the grid, the world champion is looking to claw some points back on the Red Bull Racing driver on Sunday, in a bid to halt the Dutchman’s momentum.

Mercedes have tended to have a quicker car on race day compared to qualifying this season, Wolff is hoping that this will mean both Silver Arrows will be able to take the fight to Verstappen where rain might play a key role.

“Overall, I think our qualifying result was probably a bit better than we expected after practice. Valtteri made a strong recovery from a tricky Friday and did a good job of damage limitation for his penalty – he will start P5 tomorrow and has a good opportunity running the Medium tyre in the opening stint. On his side, Lewis had strong runs and looking at the data, it’s not clear where he’d have been able to eke out any more time this afternoon.

“We ran a slightly unusual session, with Valtteri doing three runs in Q2, while Lewis did the same on the Soft tyres in Q3. That allowed us to squeeze everything out of the car and control the pace of our out laps in the best way to manage the tyres for our car. Both drivers will be starting on Medium tomorrow and we have generally raced stronger than we have qualified this season.

Lando Norris: “The car felt good throughout all of qualifying”

Lando Norris was one of the stars of Qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix, with the Briton able to put himself fourth fastest in Q3, which becomes third once Valtteri Bottas’ three-place grid penalty is applied.

The McLaren F1 Team driver was able to out-qualify Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez, with Norris less than three-tenths of a second away from pole position, which was set by the other Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Norris says there are a lot of positives to take away from Qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, and he is in a good position to continue his unbroken run of points scores on Sunday afternoon.

“A very good quali – P3 in the end,” said Norris.  “The car felt good throughout all of qualifying, I was confident and could always make the small improvements needed.

“That gave us P3, which is nice – especially to be only two-and-a-bit-tenths off pole. A lot of positives and a very good position for us to score some solid points tomorrow, but it’s a long race and that’s where the points are. That’s the important thing.”

Red Bull’s Christian Horner: “It was another great Team performance today”

Christian Horner praised his Red Bull Racing team for their performance during Qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix on Saturday, with Max Verstappen securing the team’s first ever pole position at the Red Bull Ring.

It is Verstappen’s third pole position of 2021, having taken top spot in Qualifying in the Bahrain and French Grand Prix.  It was also the first time he has taken poles in consecutive races.

Team-mate Sergio Pérez qualified fifth but will start fourth after Valtteri Bottas takes his three-place grid penalty, although it was a far less straightforward session for the Mexican who struggled to get out of Q1.

Horner, the Team Principal of Red Bull, says the team have put themselves into a good position for Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring, although he knows Pérez will need to get ahead of McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris if he is to be in contention for the victory.

“It was another great Team performance today, securing our first pole position at the Red Bull Ring,” said Horner.  “Max did a great job once again, completing two laps in Q3 that were quick enough for pole and achieving his first back-to-back pole positions.

“We live to fight another day” – Lewis Hamilton

For the second successive race, Lewis Hamilton will line up alongside Max Verstappen on the front row of the grid, again however it will be from the second place spot rather than pole!

Hamilton had no answer to Verstappen’s relentless pace in qualifying despite topping the final practice session. The world champion also gave it three goes in final qualifying in a bid to take the top spot, but it was to no avail.

Come the end of qualifying Hamilton wasn’t actually the fastest of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers, Valtteri Bottas would have been starting the race from second with Hamilton in third but of course has a three-place grid penalty.

So it’s Hamilton versus Verstappen in the Styrian hillside, can the British driver get his revenge for the French Grand Prix?

“Firstly, well done to Max – they have been so fast this weekend and they’ve had two tenths on us through every session. I have been giving it absolutely everything but it just wasn’t the greatest of qualifying sessions for me today. Nevertheless, it’s still the front row after the penalty and we live to fight another day – we’re there with the Red Bulls at the start so let’s see what we can do, it makes for an exciting race.
 
“I’m proud of everyone’s hard work, and for continuing to push, we’re still in the fight and we’ve done a good job given the circumstances. I’m going try and enjoy my evening, gather my thoughts and come back strong tomorrow.”

Max Verstappen: “We made a big step forward in qualifying this year”

Max Verstappen was delighted to take pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix on Saturday, with the Dutchman relatively comfortable in Q3 as his two best laps were good enough to take top spot.

The Red Bull Racing driver continued his fine form of 2021, with Verstappen the only driver to dip beneath the sixty-four second mark in Qualifying, his lap of 1:03.841 more than two tenths of a second ahead of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen says Red Bull have made good gains in Qualifying in 2021, and the championship leaders form continued at the Red Bull Ring as he took his third pole position of the season.

“It is of course a great result to take the Team’s first pole position at our home track and I feel very good about that,” said Verstappen.  “We made a big step forward in qualifying this year and although the car has been competitive and pretty easy to set-up all weekend we still made some good changes for qualifying.

“From my side, the first lap in Q3 felt pretty good. Around here you don’t have many corners but it is actually quite hard to nail the lap because of the braking up to Turn 3 and 4 where it is easy to lose a tenth if you make a tiny mistake.”

Edoardo Mortara: “This has been the best race weekend of my entire career”

Edoardo Mortara took his second career ABB FIA Formula E World Championship victory in race two of the Puebla E-Prix last Sunday, with the win also seeing him take over at the top of the championship standings.

Having finished third in race one on Saturday, the Swiss racer played the perfect tactical battle to defeat Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team’s Pascal Wehrlein to the chequered flag to take the win, with the ROKiT Venturi Racing driver scoring forty points across the weekend.

And Mortara says the Puebla E-Prix weekend was the best of his career to date.

“What a weekend,” said Mortara.  “Yesterday, we finished third on the podium and today, we went two steps further to take the win.

“Scoring 40 points on one race weekend alone is incredible and after winning today, I’m honestly speechless. This has been the best race weekend of my entire career.”

Di Grassi Revels in ‘Very Special’ Victory in Opening Race of Puebla E-Prix

Lucas di Grassi feels he is back in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship battle after taking his first win of the season in the opening race of the Puebla E-Prix last Saturday.

The Brazilian finished second on the road but was immediately promoted to victory after Pascal Wehrlein was disqualified from first place after his Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team failed to declare his tyres prior to the race.

From eighth on the grid, di Grassi drove well and used his attack mode to good effect to make up places, and he was in prime position once the decision was made by the stewards about Wehrlein.

It is di Grassi’s eleventh Formula E victory, and the thirty-third time he has stood on the podium, and he says his Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler team continue to show their credentials despite the German marque announcing their departure from the championship at the end of the season.

“This victory feels very special,” said di Grassi on Saturday. “Today, we finally proved that our Audi e-tron FE07 is a real winner.


RaceScene.com