Verstappen beats Norris to pole for Austrian GP sprint

Max Verstappen will start the Austria sprint race from pole position after claiming top spot in Friday qualifying from growing rival Lando Norris.

The sprint qualifying rules left enough time for just one lap per driver in the top 10, and the session rapidly boiled down to being a straight fight between Verstappen and Norris, the only two drivers to have taken poles in sprint races so far this season.

Norris was the first between them over the line, gapping the field — led by McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri — by 0.208s. Verstappen followed him shortly afterwards, and having set purple sectors in the first and last splits by slender margins, he pipped Norris by 0.093s for his second sprint pole of the season.


“It’s been a good day so far,” he said. “It’s nice to drive the car. I think immediately the car was well balanced.

“Everything has been working really well — a good start to the weekend. I’m happy with today.”

Norris will start ahead of Piastri and Mercedes driver George Russell, who was 0.368s off the pace.

Carlos Sainz qualified fifth and 0.44s back as the only Ferrari driver who set a time in the top-10 shootout. Charles Leclerc was forced to stop in pit lane with what appeared to be a tripped anti-stall system, and though he was able to restart and join the session, he missed the checkered flag by a matter of seconds, leaving him 10th without a time.

Lewis Hamilton qualified sixth after a scrappy qualifying session that almost saw him eliminate in SQ1 after running off the track exiting Turn 6. He was 0.584s off the pace.

Sergio Perez underwhelmed for Red Bull Racing in seventh and 1.322s adrift, beating Alpine’s Esteban Ocon by less than 0.1s, with Pierre Gasly in the sister French car trailing further back in ninth ahead of the lapless Leclerc.

Kevin Magnussen was only 0.049s shy of a top-10 berth after a last-gasp lap at the end of SQ2, qualifying 11th.

Lance Stroll outqualified teammate Fernando Alonso by 0.031s. It’s the sixth time this year that the newly re-signed Stroll qualified ahead of Alonso in a grand prix or sprint qualifying session, bringing his head-to-head tally to 6-7 in the Spaniard’s favor — and 2-1 in his favor for sprints — on another disappointing afternoon of underperformance for Aston Martin.

Yuki Tsunoda qualified 14th ahead of Logan Sargeant in 15th after having both his SQ2 laps deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 6.

It’s only the second time Sargeant has outqualified teammate Alex Albon in his more than a season alongside the Thai driver at Williams, the previous occasion being sprint qualifying in Miami earlier this year.

Daniel Ricciardo will line up 16th, having missed out on progression by just 0.024s to teammate Tsunoda. It’s a stark comedown for the Australian, who qualified fourth for the previous sprint in Miami and who is fighting to retain his seat at RB.

Nico Hulkenberg will line up 17th ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Albon, while Zhou Guanyu qualified last for the fourth time in the last six qualifying sessions, the Chinese driver 0.443s off the back of the pack.

Story originally appeared on Racer