Bottas sets second-fastest time in Q3, but will start the race 5th due to a 3-place grid penalty received on Friday
By Yuri Coghe
Max Verstappen just took the first step to turn the two races at Red Bull’s home circuit into strong results for his F1 championship aspirations.
The Dutchman claimed his third pole position of the season, his second in a row, during qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday — the first round of a doubleheader at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. The championship leader posted a 1:03.841 lap time with approximately five minutes remaining in Q3, and was the only driver on the grid to crack the 1:04 mark.
“It’s been a very good weekend, I think the first lap in Q3 was good enough in the end,” said Verstappen after the session. “I’m super happy to be on pole here at home! It’s good to be in a Red Bull car here.” He also led both free practice sessions on Friday.
Lewis Hamilton had claimed first place in FP3 earlier on Saturday, but was unable to translate that into a pole for the Mercedes.
Valtteri Bottas, in the other Mercedes, set a 1:04.035 lap time late in the session to finish second, .085 seconds faster than his teammate. However, the Finnish driver had already been handed a 3-place grid penalty for dangerous driving after spinning in the pit lane during FP2 on Friday, dropping to fifth on Sunday’s grid. As a result, Hamilton will inherit second place.
“Shame about the penalty,” said Bottas. “It was a strong qualifying. I felt good in the car. It’s a new day tomorrow, a long race ahead and anything is possible.”
Hamilton, who sits second in the drivers’ championship, 12 points behind Verstappen, didn’t sound particularly optimistic in his post-qualifying interview.
“It wasn’t the greatest of sessions but I’m still on the front row,” said Hamilton. “I don’t think we have the raw pace to overtake (Verstappen on Sunday). I’ll be giving it everything. Maybe we’ll be surprised tomorrow. Maybe it rains.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris will start third, with Sergio Pérez in fourth. They’ll both start the race on soft tires, possibly posing a threat to the front row.
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Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda confirmed the promising pace shown by AlphaTauri on Friday, claiming P6 and P8 ilitially, respectively. The Japanese driver, however, got hit with a three-place grid penalty for holding out Bottas the Q3, dropping to eleventh.
Charles Leclerc will start seventh, whereas his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz couldn’t make it into Q3 and will start twelfth, one position ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Fernando Alonso took his Alpine to ninth, gaining one position in the grid after Tsunoda’s penalty to start in P8, while his teammate Esteban Ocon got knocked out in Q1. The Frenchman will start seventeenth.
Canadian Lance Stroll outqualified his Aston Martin teammate, 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. He punched his ticket to Q3 with a late Q2 lap that edged George Russell by less than 0.008 seconds, leaving the Briton in eleventh place and just out of Q3. Russell eventually rose to tenth due to Tsunoda’s penalty. Stroll will start in ninth place, finishing the session in tenth but also benefiting from Tsunoda’s penalty. Vettel will start from P14.
Nicholas Latifi, the other Canadian in the field, was in tenth place when the time to start making fast laps began in Q1, but dropped to P16 as drivers kept posting quicker and quicker times.
Antonio Giovinazzi is immediately ahead of him in P15. As a result of an error in Q1, Kimi Raikkonen will start 18th in the other Alfa Romeo.
The Haas cars stuck to their usual back of the grid positions as Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin will start the race in P19 and P20, respectively.
The Styrian Grand Prix, the eighth round of the 2021 Formula 1 season, is set for 9 AM Eastern Time on Sunday.
See the full qualifying results:
Sunday’s grid, after Bottas’s and Tsunoda’s penalties: