Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen qualified seventh and 15th, respectively, for the Austrian Grand Prix Sunday at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
Grosjean, however, will start sixth due to a five-place grid penalty being served by Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver qualified third but incurred the penalty with a gearbox change following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The FIA requires gearboxes to last six straight events and the gearbox in Hamilton's car did not meet this requirement.
Grosjean's starting position equals Haas F1 Team's best grid slot to date. Grosjean qualified an outright sixth for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix eight races ago.
The sixth-place starting spot was earned by Grosjean advancing all the way to Q3 for the fourth time this season. He set the eighth-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:05.902 around the 4.318-kilometer (2.683-mile), 10-turn track to move on to Q2. He then set a 1:05.319 in Q2 to record the seventh-quickest time and advance into the final round of qualifying. There, a lap of 1:05.480 before an electronic issue forced Grosjean to stop on track maintained his seventh-place standing.
Magnussen likely would've joined his teammate in Q3, but a suspension failure at the end of Q1 thwarted those plans. Magnussen recorded the 12-fastest lap in Q1 with a 1:06.143 to send him into Q2. But the broken suspension could not be repaired in time for Magnussen to get back on track, so he was unable to set a time in Q2, leaving him 15th.
Taking the pole for the Austrian Grand Prix was Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. His fast lap of 1:04.251 set a new track record, beating the previous track record time of 1:05.092 set only a few hours earlier by Scuderia Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in final practice (FP3). Bottas earned his second career pole by beating Vettel by just .042 of a second.
Before Grosjean, Magnussen and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. Both drivers started FP3 utilizing Red supersoft tires for an installation lap followed by a 10-lap timed run. To emulate qualifying, both drivers ran their final outing on Purple ultrasofts.
Magnussen ran 21 laps and set the seventh-fastest time in FP3 with a 1:05.936 on his 16th lap. Grosjean tallied 22 laps and followed with the eighth-quickest time - a 1:06.015 earned on his 14th lap.
Quickest in FP3 was Vettel, whose fast lap of 1:05.092 was .269 of a second better than his nearest pursuer, Hamilton.
Romain Grosjean: "We've been quick all weekend, Kevin and I. We've both been pretty happy with the car. Unfortunately, Kevin had the suspension issue in Q1, otherwise I think he would've been up there with us. In between Q1 and Q2 we found some performance. We had good grip in the car. I think we just lost an electric connection on the car at the end. I'm hoping it's nothing more serious than that. It's a long race tomorrow. It's going to be tough on the brakes, tough on the engine and tough physically. It's the second time this year though, after Melbourne, where I feel the tires are working well and I can really enjoy myself and push the car to the limit."
Kevin Magnussen: "We were looking good, so it's really frustrating not getting the whole qualifying. It's really unfortunate to break the rear suspension. It's just bad luck. I think we could've gone on to Q3 today and had a really good chance of points tomorrow. Now it looks more difficult. We had been performing well all weekend. We had good pace and were in the top-10. I'm gutted not to get anything out of it."
Guenther Steiner: "A good follow-up from yesterday in FP3 - it was solid - and we carried it over into qualifying. Unfortunately, Kevin had suspension failure. His time was good to get into Q2, but he couldn't drive in the session. Romain made it into Q3, which is very good again to be there. He then qualified seventh. On his lap with new tires he had an electronic issue - which we're still investigating - but we should be on the grid tomorrow without any more issues. With the pace the car has shown over the weekend here, with Kevin starting 15th, we're still very hopeful and very confident to get into the points with him, and for sure with Romain we have to keep him there. Hopefully, we have no more mechanical or electronic issues and we have a good race tomorrow."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Spielberg, here.