Formula 1 is back after a seven-month break. But for fans, nothing seems to have changed. Mercedes, which has won the last six Constructors' World Championships, continues to dominate. In the season-opener Austria GP, Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas took the pole position while his teammate and the defending Drivers' World Champion Lewis Hamilton managed second. Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen completed the front-three of the starting grid.
Scheduled to begin on March 15 in Melbourne, Australia, the season was postponed due to ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Finally, after a long wait, the first race will be flagged off at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 5. It will be followed by another leg at the same venue between July 10 and 12. Several races including the Singapore GP have been cancelled.
Mercedes began from where they left last season. The Germany-based team put up a strong performance to claim the top two positions on the starting grid. Bottas started well in the Qualifying 3 with 1:02.939 seconds and finished despite fumbling in the dying seconds. But, Hamilton couldn't better his timing to finish 0.012 seconds behind in second.
For Red Bull, it was a mixed performance. They managed to hold off a challenge from McLaren and Racing Point. If Verstappen managed third, his teammate Alex Albon managed fifth place.
However, Ferrari, as it seems, hasn't learned from their debacle last season. Charles Leclerc and four-time World Champion Sebastien Vettel will start from 7th and 11th positions respectively. For Vettel, the rough time is continuing. The German, who is yet to get a driver's seat in the next season's F1 line-up after confirming that he would leave Ferrari, clocked only 1:04.206 seconds to exit from Qualifying 2. Leclerc, the winner of the Austrian GP last season, survived the Q2, finishing 10th but was below his pace. He will start on Sunday from seventh at Red Bull Ring on Sunday, July 5.
"In race trim, we are always better, so we will be there to make up some lost ground and make up some good points," Vettel told media after the qualifying round.
It was a surprise for Racing Point's Sergio Perez, who managed sixth. The Mexican zoomed to place in the Q2 before but failed to confirm that spot, finishing sixth. His teammate Lance Stroll will start from ninth. McLaren's Lando Norris squeezed into the top 5 with a fine last gasp drive, managing fourth place on the starting grid. His teammate Carlos Sainz, who will be joining Ferrari next season, will start from eighth.
For Australian Daniel Ricciardo, it wasn't a great day. But still, he drove his Renault to 10th place ahead of his teammate Esteban Ocon at 14th. It was a disappointing start for Alpha Romeo. Both of their drivers — former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy were eliminated from the Qualifying 1. They will start from 18th and 19th places respectively.
Debutant Canadian Nicholas Latifi will start from the bottom of the grid after exiting from Q1. His Williams partner George Russell was three places ahead at17th.