F1 – Verstappen Takes Top Spot For Sprint Ahead Norris And Piastri

Max Verstappen will start the Sprint at the Red Bull Ring from the front of the grid after the championship leader beat McLaren’s Lando Norris to top spot in Sprint Qualifying but less than a tenth of a second.

At the start of SQ1, after Lewis Hamilton had his first lap of 1:06.416 deleted for track limits at Turn 6, it was George Russell who set the early pace with a lap of 1:06.765.

Verstappen soon beat that, however, and the Dutchman stole top spot with a lap of 1:05.690, 0.074 ahead of the Mercedes driver. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz sat in third place, ahead of Norris, with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in fifth ahead of the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

The order at the top remained static in the final runs, but at the other end of the timesheet there was no place in the second session for RB’s Daniel Ricciardo who was bumped from P15 into the drop zone by a good final lap from Alpine’s Pierre Gasly who jumped to P11, two places ahead of the fortunate Lewis Hamilton who managed to recover to P13 thanks to a lap of 1:06.504.

Ricciardo was edged out just over two hundredths of a second behind team-mate Yuki Tsunoda who had a lurid off on his final flying lap when he put a wheel into the new gravel strip at the exit of Turn 9 and spun through the run-off at the final corner. The Japanese driver was able to recover, however, and progressed in P15.

Eliminated along with Ricciardo were Haas’ 17th-placed Nico Hülkenberg, Kick Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas, Williams’ Alex Albon in P19 and the last placed second Kick Sauber of Zhou Guanyu.

Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez were first on track at the start of SQ2 and Verstappen set the pace at 1:05.186, with Pérez crossing the line more than half a second behind.

That left the door open for Russell to take second place with a lap of 1:05.325 and he was followed by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri who took third ahead of Sainz, Leclerc, Hamilton and Norris, who shuffled Pérez, down to eighth place. With the first runs completed, the Mexican was the last man to have posted a time, with the remaining drivers targeting a single run in the session.

The top four drivers elected to stay in the pit lane for the final runs and with Leclerc, Hamilton, Norris and Pérez all failing to improve or backing out of their final runs it became a battle for the final two SQ3 spots.

And it was Alpine that made the best of the final laps. Esteban Ocon went through in eighth place with a lap of 1:05.686, just over three hundredths of a second behind Pérez. Gasly took the final SQ3 spot 0.071s behind team-mate Ocon.

Behind them, out went Haas’ Kevein Magnussen in P11 along with the Astons of Stroll and Alonso in P12 and P13 respectively, while Tsunoda exited in 14th ahead of Williams’ Logan Sargeant.

Brinkmanship in SQ3 saw all 10 drivers hold station in their garages until the last possible moment and with drivers seeking a gap to the car in front, it meant that the last in the queue were in danger of not having enough time to make it round to start a final flyer.

That was the case for Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari was one of the last in line and when his car went into anti-stall in the pit lane he was halted long enough to then take the chequered flag first as he tried to start his final flying lap.

Ahead, it was Norris who looked to have enough pace to take top spot with the McLaren driver jumping to P1 three tenths clear of team-mate Oscar Piastri. All day long, though, Verstappen had just enough in the tank to edge ahead of the Briton and it was the case once again as the championship leader to P1, 0.093 clear of his chief rival.

Behind the top three Russell was fourth ahead of Sainz, with Hamilton in sixth. Pérez finished seventh in the second Red Bull, with Ocon in P8 ahead of Gasly and the unfortunate Leclerc.

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

F1 – Verstappen Takes Top Spot For Sprint Ahead Norris And Piastri

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