Lewis Hamilton emphasised his reputation as one of Formula 1’s greatest wet weather racers by splashing his way to a superb pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix in treacherous conditions at the Red Bull Ring.

With heavy rain – which cancelled FP3 - also risking the prospect of no action taking place in qualifying, the FIA nonetheless went ahead and started the session some 45mins after it was due to get underway.

Though marginal in terms of the conditions, the drivers proved their worth with a brilliant display of largely error-free driving.

 

 

With the intensity of the rain changing by the minute, the fight for pole position in Q3 would come down to timing with both Hamilton and Max Verstappen emerging as the most likely candidates as they wrestled their respective Mercedes and Red Bull machines around the short track.

However, just as Verstappen got it all wrong into the final corner sequence, Hamilton was putting in dominant purple sectors, the Briton crossing the line a huge 1.2s clear of his Dutch rival.

Admitting to some ‘heart in the mouth’ moments as the Mercedes tried to get away from him, Hamilton says he was nonetheless grateful for the rain to work in his favour.

“I am pleased with that, what a tricky day it was difficult down here for all of us, a lot of the time you can’t even see where you are going and I had one big moment the lap before last a big aquaplane, I had my heart in my mouth but I was able to improve on the last lap, nice and clean.”

Though gremlins on Friday left Hamilton off the pace in the dry, he insists the issues have been resolved giving him confidence for Sunday’s race whatever the weather.

“Yesterday was a difficult day, it started off well in FP1 and then FP2 there was a big issue for us, but we discovered it overnight – nothing major.

“Today would have been better for us if it had been dry but I am grateful for the rain like always. Tomorrow looks like a much sunnier day but we are prepared for both conditions and that’s where I want to start, so I am glad it was a trouble-free session with no mistakes. That’s always a positive.”

 

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