Max Verstappen clinches Austrian GP Sprint pole on Red Bull homecoming

The Dutchman was fastest again as he clinched pole position for Saturday's F1 Sprint race at the Red Bull Ring

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Max Verstappen will start the Austrian GP Sprint race on Saturday from pole position to ensure Red Bull enjoyed a happy homecoming at their home the Red Bull Ring.

The championship leader had the edge over his rivals in FP1 and continued his form by qualifying ahead of the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. Behind them was George Russell in fourth, with Carlos Sainz fifth and Lewis Hamilton sixth ahead of Sergio Perez.

Disaster struck for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who lost drive as he made his way out of the pits and ran out of time to set a lap. He will start in P10 behind Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

At Red Bull’s home race, Verstappen would have been keen to flex his muscles and the Dutchman went less than tenth quicker than Russell in SQ1.

Max Verstappen during practice ahead of the 2024 Austrian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen during practice ahead of the 2024 Austrian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

There was a repeat in SQ2 as Verstappen led Russell at the top again with a 1:05.186, while four different teams taking the top four spots to underline the increased competition.

But Verstappen, whose mechanics worked to fix an issue with his rear wing, roared to pole by going 0.09 seconds quicker than Norris with a 1.04.686 – half a second quicker than his SQ2 time – to send the crowd into pandemonium in Spielberg.

Verstappen and Russell closely matched

As the 20 drivers set out on the medium tyres with only 12 minutes of running due to the sprint qualifying conditions, timing would be everything in setting the lap time due to track evolution and potential yellow flags.

His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton did not have such a comfortable ride, however, after dipping his car into the gravel at Turn 8 and having his time deleted. Hamilton was left up against it with only one opportunity to get himself out of the drop zone and his lap time was far convincing as he battled his way past traffic.

But the 39-year-old managed to squeeze through in P13 with Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon and Zhou Guanyu knocked out. In a shock result at Williams, Logan Sargeant out-qualified Albon for only the second time.

Only eight of the 15 drivers went for more than one lap in SQ2, highlighting the need to save tyre sets for the race. And that proved to be costly for Aston Martin, with both Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso knocked out as Alpine duo Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon squeezed into SQ3.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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