Verstappen continues Austria domination with his 40th GP pole

Max Verstappen dominated qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, blitzing the field by almost half a second to take his 40th pole position in Formula 1.

Fresh from cruising from pole to victory in the sprint race earlier today, Verstappen was peerless and imperious throughout the hour qualifying session, setting two lap times in Q3 quick enough for pole position.

The Red Bull driver’s ultimate margin was 0.404s to Lando Norris, who couldn’t follow the reigning champion up the road after having run him close during the sprint sessions.

“The qualifying went really well,” Verstappen said of his first pole position since May’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. “We tried to adjust the car a little bit after the things that we learnt his morning. I think it went well.


“The car felt a lot better for me today. I could really attack the corners a bit more. Every run was just on point. It was very enjoyable out there.

“It’s been a while that we’ve actually been on pole, so it’s great. It’s a great feeling.”

Norris was satisfied being the best of the rest but appeared pessimistic about McLaren’s chances in the grand prix after Verstappen’s pole domination.

“I think it was as much as we could do today,” he said. “Max was in a league of his own.

“When you look at the pace today, it’s clear that we’re going to have to give it a lot. I’ll try. I’ll do a better job than I did this morning [in the sprint]. It’s a long race. Many things can happen.”

Norris had been set to have McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri behind him in third again, but the Australian had his quickest time deleted for exceeding track limits in a marginal call exiting Turn 6. That promoted George Russell up to third for Mercedes’s third consecutive top-three grand prix qualifying result.

“The car’s feeling really great at the moment,” he said. “It’s definitely going in the right direction for us.”

As was the case for the sprint, Carlos Sainz will split the two Mercedes drivers on the grid, qualifying fourth ahead of Lewis Hamilton in fifth.

Charles Leclerc’s final lap was scrappy, picking up a snap of oversteer at Turn 6 that spit him over the stones and then running off the roar at Turn 9. He had to fall back on his first lap, leaving him sixth.

Piastri ended up seventh after his deleted lap time, but that was still more than enough to stay ahead of Sergio Perez, who was a woeful eighth and 0.888s off the pace around Formula 1’s shortest lap by time.

Nico Hulkenberg qualified ninth for Haas ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified 11th, missing out on Q3 by just 0.015s, to line up alongside Kevin Magnussen, the Haas driver only 0.058s slower than the under-pressure RB-driving Australian.

Pierre Gasly had set the 12th-fastest time of Q2 but had it deleted for exceeding track limits exiting Turn 6. His previous lap was enough to keep him 13th alongside Yuki Tsunoda in the second RB car. His off-track excursion cause a delay to the start of Q3 to allow marshals to clear up gravel spat onto the circuit.

Fernando Alonso was 0.227s slower than Tsunoda on his way to a lackluster 15th. It’s the fifth time in the last six races the Spaniard has failed to qualify in the top 10 as Aston Martin’s alarming backwards slide continues unabated.

Alex Albon will start 16th in the best-placed Williams ahead of Lance Stroll, the shock knockout in Q1 for Aston Martin.

Valtteri Bottas qualified 18th ahead of Williams driver Logan Sargeant and Sauber teammate Zhou Guanyu. This was the fifth time in the last eight grands prix Zhou has been knocked out 20th, following on from his last-place qualification for the sprint, as his qualifying slump continues.

Story originally appeared on Racer