The reigning world champion produced an incredible lap in qualifying to take pole position by a mammoth 1.2s, but he’s joined on the front row by Max Verstappen in a Red Bull that has a lot of making up to do after last weekend’s double-retirement for the home team. The top order is shaken up somewhat though by the rain-sodden qualifying session, meaning Carlos Sainz starts in third in the McLaren with world championship leader Valtteri Bottas only able to qualify in fourth.
There have been a fair few grid penalties applied, with Lando Norris dropping from sixth to ninth and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc seeing an already-disappointing 11th worsen to 14th after he was found to have blocked Daniil Kvyat in qualifying, with Antonio Giovinazzi also dropping to thee back of the grid after a gearbox change on his Alfa Romeo. Lights out is scheduled for 2:10pm, and you can follow lap-by-lap updates live below.
Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the Styrian Grand Prix, the second round of the 2020 Formula One season at the Red Bull Ring where Lewis Hamilton starts from pole position.
The Mercedes driver put in a blistering lap during a wet qualifying session to demolish the rest of the field, setting a lap time that put him 1.2s clear of the rest of the field as he mastered the atrocious conditions.
However, the Spielburg-based track is basking in glorious sunshine this afternoon, and with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen lining up alongside the six-time world champion, there's real potential for the two starts of F1 to go head-to-head.
it proved to be a qualifying for the ages yesterday afternoon as the heavens opened up 10 minutes before qualifying was due to get underway, resulting in a delay of nearly and hour that left everyone waiting in anticipation for what proved a soaking wet session.
An entertaining Q1 session saw a Williams makes through to Q2 for the first time since 2018 as George Russell beat the likes of his teammate Nicholas Latifi and the two Alfa Romeos, though the biggest shock came in the rapid Racing Point of Sergio Perez failing to make the cut, despite setting extremely quick times throughout Friday practice.
The drama didn't stop in Q2, where Ferrari saw Charles Leclerc suffer an embarrassing exit after qualifying in P11 and Russell only missing out on the top 10 shootout by just 0.1s, with Lance Stroll in the other Racing Point also failing to progress.
But Q3 was where everyone wanted to be, with the battle quickly being taken up by Hamilton and Verstappen as the pair traded fastest laps. When it came to the crunch though, Verstappen saw himself by Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari retreating to the pits and lost control through the final turn, wrecking his last run. With the opportunity wide open, Hamilton delivered a phenomenal lap from the Gods to take pole position by 1.216s to cement his status as the best driver on the grid in wet conditions.
Behind, Carlos Sainz delivered his own lap from heaven to take third place for McLaren, ahead of last weekend's race-winner Bottas, while Esteban Ocon provided a welcome boost for the Renault team as he followed up last week's points finish with a solid fifth place in qualifying, ahead of Red Bull's Alex Albon, Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly and the second Renault of Daniel Ricciardo. Although Lando Norris was able to take provisional sixth, a three-place penalty picked up on Friday relegated him to ninth, with Vettel rounding out the top 10.
Romain Grosjean has been forced to start from the pit lane, but could fins himself lucky not to be excluded entirely after Haas broke parc ferme rules overnight to work on the car.
Grosjean was due to start on the back row of the grid regardless, but after struggling massively last weekend with a double-brake failure for their two drivers, Haas are clearly experiencing some troubles again this weekend.
Reliability will be a concern for many drivers again this week, and that include both Hamilton and Bottas.
Mercedes struggled with the kerbs last weekend which saw issues flare up with the gearbox sensors, causing urgent messages to be sent from the pit wall telling both drivers to remain off them and - in effect - slow down to save the cars. That gave Red Bull and Alex Albon a sniff of victory, only for it to go wrong when he collided with Hamilton while attempting to overtake.
Boss Toto Wolff believes that Mercedes will be "more robust" this weekend, but will still need to be careful with the kerbs through the end of sector two and all of sector three, but any issues could play into the hands of Red Bull.
The pit lane opens up with a long queue at the end of it, with the field keen to get out as soon as possible for their first dry track time in two days. Kimi Raikkonen leads the way, while the two Mercs just hold back for a minute before emerging.
The drivers will get a few laps to get a feel for the green track as they can run through the pit lane before heading to the grid, though because of the pit exit in Austria being narrow and up a huge climb, there will be no chance to practice their starts.
It's another mixed message at the front of the grid, where a handful of drivers choose to remain on their feet while others kneel in the stance against racism. Lewis Hamilton is once again among those on one knee.
So we're just five minutes away from getting the second race of the 2020 F1 season calendar underway.
Will it be Hamilton or Verstappen who leads into Turn One? Will Bottas manage to go with the lead pair or will the McLaren on Sainz hold him up? How much progress will the two Racing Points make? Can it get any worse for Ferrari? And will Williams finally score a point?
Lap 1: Sainz tries to take second from Verstappen and momentarily gets it through turn one, but the Red Bull gets a better drive out of the corner and retakes the position with Hamilton holding first.
Oh no! Not again! Leclerc comes into Turn Three way too hot, collides with the rear of Vettel and wipes out his Ferrari teammate's rear wing! That's Vettel out of the race on lap one, and Leclerc has front wing damage.
Lap 4: A very fast-starting Stroll gets a run on Norris, but has to run wide through Turn One and the fight goes on all the way through to Turn Four, with Norris holding on. Behind, Russell is mixing it up with Magnussen, and no sooner does the Haas get past the Williams does the Williams fight back. Russell is off though! He goes straight across the gravel at Turn Five and it drops him out of 11th to second last. What a disaster.