Leclerc pole gives Vettel partial pain relief

A 2019 campaign of frustration continued for Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, while his team-mate took pole.

Published : Jun 29, 2019 23:24 IST

Sebastian Vettel felt pain and frustration after failing to set a time in Q3 at the Austrian Grand Prix, but Charles Leclerc's pole position softened the blow.

A miserable season for Vettel, who has not won a Formula One race since the Belgian Grand Prix in August 2018, continued in Spielberg as an issue with the air pressure line to his Ferrari engine meant he could not leave the garage in the final session.

READ | Leclerc beats Hamilton to pole

Ferrari confirmed the problem was related to the engine pneumatic system, a significant disappointment for the four-time world champion on a track well suited to his SF90, which took Leclerc to pole and has looked quick throughout the race weekend. 

The team worked on Vettel's car until the final minutes of Q3, when it became clear they would not be able to resolve the problem.

"Well obviously the car was broken, so we couldn't fire it up and go," Vettel told reporters. "We lost part of Q2 and then Q3 completely. We tried everything to fix it.

"We fairly quickly made the decision to change the bodywork, but it's not so easy. We had to take it off and it's not so easy to get there. The guys did everything they could, but we couldn't do it in time.

ALSO READ | Hamilton to start fifth in Austria after grid penalty

"Obviously it's frustrating, but there's nothing you can do inside the car. At least, as much as a pain as it is, it is also good to see the other car came through and obviously got pole. 

"So I'm happy for the team, obviously not happy for my side of the garage. But it is nobody's fault. We will have a good day and a good race on Sunday."

Vettel will start from ninth due to a five-place penalty for Kevin Magnussen, who qualified fifth.

An intriguing grid sees championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who was sanctioned for blocking Kimi Raikkonen in Q1, start fifth as Red Bull's Max Verstappen joins Leclerc on the front row.

"It's a big pleasure to drive this car on the limit and it just felt great," said Leclerc.  "It is just a shame for Seb. We should have two cars close to one and two. I'm very happy to bring the pole position home but we need to finish the job."

ALSO READ | Renault's Nico Hulkenberg lands grid penalty

Leclerc, who was also on pole in Bahrain but saw his chances of winning ended by a late power issue, added: "I have full confidence in the guys that they will do a good job and it is something that happens in motorsport sometimes. 

"I just really hope that everything will be fine, a clean race, and hopefully the first victory at the end of it."

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