Valtteri Bottas beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position as Mercedes dominated qualifying at the Austrian Grand Prix, while Ferrari had a shocking day.
Mercedes seemed unbeatable as the season re-started after a four-month delay as a result of the coronavirus.
The cars, painted black this year to reflect Mercedes’ support for anti-racism, were half a second clear.
The fastest Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was down in 10th as the sheer scale of their lack of performance became clear.
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel did not even make it into the final part of qualifying and the four-time world champion will start 11th.
It was a toss-up as to which was the biggest shock – the size of Mercedes’ advantage over everyone else, or how badly wrong Ferrari have got it with this year’s car.
Wow, that Mercedes is quick
Mercedes have dominated the weekend, the cars quickest by a significant margin in every single session.
The Finn was quicker than Hamilton on the first runs by 0.122 seconds and then, running ahead of the Briton, went off at Turn Five on his final run.
Hamilton was ahead of Bottas on split times at that point. The world champion improved his time over the rest of the lap but lost out on pole position by 0.012secs.
Bottas said: “It feels really good. I have missed this feeling after qualifying, the shakes. It is something special when you push the car to the limit. It feels so good. Our team, amazing job – we seem to be in our own league.”
Hamilton: “Great job by Valtteri. This is a great job by the team and I am happy to be here.” He said that the incident with Bottas “didn’t really affect the lap”.
Verstappen in third was 0.538secs off pole. The Dutchman will start the race on a different tyre than Mercedes, having chosen to run the medium in second qualifying, while Mercedes were on the soft, but on the face of it the world champions look to still have the advantage.
Verstappen said: “It is going to be quite a bit warmer tomorrow and that could play to our advantage, Mercedes were on a different level today but let’s see what we can do tomorrow.
“I suspect we are a little bit better off in the race. We have nothing to lose so I will try to make it as difficult as possible for them.”