Max Verstappen makes it four pole positions in a row after dominating Austrian Grand Prix qualifying, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc his closest challenger… as Lewis Hamilton has to settle for fifth
At Red Bull’s home track with orange flares lighting the sky, the Dutchman’s dominance was never in doubt as he powered ahead of the rest, though Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – throwing caution to the wind – pushed desperately hard at the end to narrow the margin to five-hundredths of a second. The other red car, of Carlos Sainz, was third best.
Lando Norris was an excellent fourth for McLaren, the first in a series of the team’s three upgrades showing immediate signs of success. Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest for Mercedes, four-tenths off the pace.
Alex Albon, the London-born Thai, was an impressive 10th in a Williams that his team-mate Logan Sargeant could only qualify 18th.
A disastrous day for Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull. The out-of-sorts and confidence-shot Mexican was penalised three times for exceeding track limits – a truly deflating showing.
Max Verstappen claimed his fourth consecutive pole position at Red Bull’s home grand prix
The world champion is in towering form and is not looking to relinquish his grip on a third title
Sergio Perez’s hopes of catching up with his unstoppable team-mate were seriously dented
It is the fourth time in succession that Perez has not made it into Q3, while Verstappen has taken pole in all of them.
After failing to set a time, Perez exclaimed: ‘Where?’
‘At Turn 10,’ he was told.
‘Can we go again?’
‘That’s the chequered flag.’
He will start 15th.
It was a nightmare afternoon for 11th-best George Russell, too.
He had one time deleted and finished 0.041sec off a Q3 place. The Mercedes man needs a good afternoon to replenish his self-belief: perhaps Saturday’s sprint format will provide light relief.
Nyck de Vries, whose long-term employment status at AlphaTaurai is in doubt, did nothing to enhance his chances of survival by finishing last.
The 28-year-old Dutchman is struggling for form in his rookie season, and won a vote of no-confidence from Red Bull’s motorsport adviser Dr Helmut Marko only this week.
George Russell failed to make it out of Q2 and will look to battle back to the front on Sunday
Valtteri Bottas gave Alfa Romeo an early scare after spinning out at the start of the first session
FINAL QUALIFYING POSITIONS
1 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1min 04.391 secs
2 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:04.439
3 Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:04.581
4 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:04.658
5 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:04.819
6 Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:04.893
7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Aston Martin 1:04.911
8 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Haas F1 Team 1:05.090
9 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Alpine 1:05.170
10 Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:05.823
11 George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:05.428
12 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:05.453
13 Oscar Piastri (Aus) McLaren 1:05.605
14 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:05.680
15 Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 2:06.688
16 Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:05.784
17 Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:05.818
18 Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams 1:05.948
19 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 Team 1:05.971
20 Nyck de Vries (Ned) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:05.974
Revealing that Red Bull boss Christian Horner had advised his sister team not to take De Vries on, Marko added that he thought Horner had called it right. No wonder Nyck can barely turn the wheel.
There was a red flag early on when Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas spun at the exit of the first corner and was left stranded.
The Finn managed to make it back to the pits and ended up qualifying 14th.
Verstappen did have one complaint, however, as one of many drivers than fell victim to the Red Bull Ring’s finicky limits.
‘It was very difficult because of all the track limits,’ said Verstappen of his pole position.
‘We don’t do this on purpose, but with these speeds and the high-speed corners it is so hard to judge the white line and that is why a lot of people got caught out.
‘It was about surviving. My first lap in Q3 was just a banker lap, which takes out the joy, but we still did a good enough lap and I am happy to be on pole.’
Lando Norris received a number of upgrades to his McLaren which paid dividends on Friday
Alex Albon coaxed a terrific qualifying session from his Williams to line up in 10th place