F1 – Verstappen Storms To Austrian GP Pole, 0.4s Clear Of Norris

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen powered to an emphatic eighth pole position of the season four tenths of a second clear of McLaren’s Lando Norris. George Russell qualified third for Mercedes after Oscar Piastri in the second McLaren had his final lap of Q3 deleted for a track limits violation.

Verstappen was first out on track at the start of Q1 and with used Soft tyres on board he set the pace at 1:06.054, with team-mate Sergio Pérez in P2. Both were shuffled back as better times came in and Verstappen dropped to sixth.

However, a second run on used tyres again jumped Verstappen to the top of the order with a lap of 1:05.336. Once again though better times began to come in and this time the Red Bull driver dropped to third behind new P1 man Carlos Sainz and second-placed Piastri.

Comfortable with their efforts, the top three chose to stay in the garage for the final runs, and though there were a slew of improvements the order at the top stayed the same. However, at the bottom of the order there was no place in Q2 for Williams’ Alex Albon who went out in P16 ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and the Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu who were split by the second Williams of Logan Sargeant.

In the first runs of Q2, Verstappen, now with new tyres onboard, gave a first indication of the pace in the RB20 and he powered clear of the field with a time of 1:04.577, almost a full second clear of Leclerc whose opener had been completed on used rubber. Russell jumped ahead of the Ferrari driver but the gap only closed to 0.491. Sainz then jumped to second on fresh tyres, six hundredths of a second quicker than Russell, but there was still a yawning gap to the championship leader to overcome.

And it widened in the final runs of Q2. Verstappen improved once more, closing out the middle session with a P1 time of 1:04.469. Sainz, with only two fresh sets of Softs in reserve, chose to sit out the final runs, but when none of the Spaniard’s rivals was able to eclipse his run one time, the Ferrari driver went through in P2 ahead of Russell, Hamilton and Piastri.

Eliminated at the end of Q2 were RB’s Daniel Ricciardo, with the 11th-placed Australian missing out on the top-10 shootout by just 0.015s, along with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, the second RB of Yuki Tsunoda and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

In the first runs of Q3, Verstappen shaved four hundredths of a second off his Q2 best to take provisional pole, 0.351s ahead of Norris who slotted into second ahead of Russell and Leclerc who was on used tyres. In the final runs Verstappen was untouchable and once again he improved, this time by over a tenth of a second to take his 40th career pole position with a lap of 1:04.314, 0.404 clear of Norris, with Russell in third place. The Mercedes man might have been beaten by Piastri but the Australian’s final flyer was deleted for a track limits violation at Turn 6 and he slid back behind Sainz, Hamilton and Leclerc, who went off at the final corner, and qualified in P7 just ahead of Pérez, Hülkenberg and Ocon.

Pos Driver Car
2 Lando NORRIS McLaren
3 George RUSSELL Mercedes
4 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari
5 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes
6 Charles LECLERC Ferrari
7 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren
8 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull
10 Esteban OCON Alpine
12 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas
13 Pierre GASLY Alpine
15 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin
16 Alexander ALBON Williams
17 Lance STROLL Aston Martin
18 Valtteri BOTTAS Kick Sauber
19 Logan SARGEANT Williams
20 Guanyu ZHOU Kick Sauber

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