Verstappen claims pole in Austria, his third straight; Norris 2nd; Russell also impresses in 9th

The Red Bull driver translated his two last poles into victories, including last weekend‘s Styrian GP, also held at the Red Bull Ring

By Yuri Coghe
Max Verstappen has a lot of support racing at the Red Bull home track (Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool)

Max Verstappen keeps on flying.

The championship leader won the Austrian Grand Prix pole position on Saturday, claiming his third in a row and the seventh of his career. The Red Bull driver has translated his two last poles into victories, including the Styrian GP last weekend at the same racetrack.

“Q1 and Q2 were smooth but in Q3 on the first lap, I locked up in Turn 3,” said Verstappen after the session. “It wasn’t amazing. On the second run, I was the first car and I lost time on the straights so couldn’t improve lap time even with a more normal turn 3. It was good enough for first but I wanted more.”

Verstappen is joined by Lando Norris on the front row. The McLaren driver claimed his best start ever, shy of the pole by just 0.048 seconds. Sergio Pérez took the other Red Bull to third place, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. The Mercedes drivers couldn’t do better than a fourth and fifth place, respectively.

“I feel epic,” said Norris after the session. “After the last race (when I qualified fourth), I wanted to do that one more step and I did two more. It’s nice. It puts us in a good position for tomorrow, it’s one of the best laps I’ve done I think. It was a good feeling.”

“In the end, we got a good lap and a good starting position for tomorrow,” said Pérez. “I believe we’ve got a better race car than qualifying”

The two AlphaTauris followed, with Pierre Gasly repeating the P6 in qualifying he achieved last week and rookie Yuki Tsunoda coming right after, in seventh.

But the Austrian GP qualifying star was ‘Mr. Saturday’ himself, George Russell. The Williams driver made it to Q3 for the first time in his career with the British team. He initially qualified in ninth but moved up one position after Sebastian Vettel was hit with a three-place grid penalty for impeding Fernando Alonso in Q2.

“As Saturdays go, we usually do have some good Saturdays, but this was on another level,” Russell said. “We managed to pull something out on the medium tyre. I’m properly, properly hyped up in the car, probably the most I’ve been in a long time, to be honest. That was pretty special.”

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Vettel, who initially qualified eighth, will start the race in P11. His Aston Martin teammate, Canadian Lance Stroll, qualified in tenth but moved to ninth, also benefiting from the German’s penalty.

Unable to improve his on final lap in the second qualifying session, Alonso was left with 14th position.

“A big consequence for our weekend, because even our qualifying tyre choices were made to maximize Saturday, and Saturday has been terrible with P14,” said Alonso. “I guess the weekend is over now for us, but nothing we can do.”

 “I don’t think Seb did anything wrong because it was a couple of cars in front of him already slowing down,” added the Spaniard. “So as I said, the biggest thing is for our race – what happens to them doesn’t change much.”

The two Ferraris were knocked out in Q2, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc starting in P10 (also moving up one position after Vettel’s penalty) and P12 on Sunday, respectively.

Daniel Ricciardo follows the red cars, only being able to claim the 13th position for the second qualifying session in a row at the Red Bull Ring.

Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen took the Alfa Romeos to 15th and 16th, with the Italian making it into Q2. Esteban Ocon, in 16th, and Nicholas Latifi, in 17th, followed. There were no surprises at the back of the grid, as the Haas of Mick Schumacher sits 19th, with teammate Nikita Mazepin starting 20th.

The Austrian Grand Prix is set for Sunday at 9 AM Eastern Time.

See the full Austrian Grand Prix qualifying results:

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