Max Verstappen destroys rivals in ominous Austrian GP qualifying display

The Dutchman continued his fine run of form at Red Bull's home race and will start from the front of the grid

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Max Verstappen produced a timely reminder of his incredible pace in the Red Bull after qualifying on pole for Sunday’s Formula 1 2024 Austrian Grand Prix to seal his second pole of the weekend.

Just hours after the Dutchman fought off both McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri to win the F1 Sprint, Verstappen‘s blistering pace proved to be good enough for the Austrian GP pole to match as he dominated qualifying at the Red Bull Ringgoing over three tenths of a second quicker than his closest rival.

Verstappen’s Q2 time of a 1:04.469 was comfortably the quickest lap of the weekend and he went marginally quicker in Q3 on his first run to set a time of 1:04.314. Norris will start alongside him on the front row in second, with George Russell third and Carlos Sainz fourth.

Lewis Hamilton is on the third row in P5, Charles Leclerc sixth and Piastri, who finished second in the sprint race, is down in seventh after having his time deleted due to a track limits violation. Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon made up the rest of the top 10.

Max Verstappen is presented with the Pirelli Pole Position Award by Verena Culka after Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Austrian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen made it two pole positions in one weekend for the 2024 Austrian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

With McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes all swapping positions at the top, the early data indicated there would be a four-way fight for pole position behind the F1 Sprint winner Verstappen.

All four teams finished in the top eight spots in the sprint race, but qualifying would offer an even closer contest.

Carlos Sainz quickest in Q1

After the first and second runs, Lewis Hamilton found himself in the drop zone as the margins were so tight. That was reflected at the top, with Sainz leading Piastri by just 0.048 of a second and Verstappen a further 0.025 adrift.

On fresh tyres, Hamilton could only put his Mercedes W15 into P6, with Russell just behind him on a used set, as he admitted to his team he was “so slow” on the radio. But it would prove to be enough with Daniel Ricciardo, Yuki Tsunoda and Sergio Perez all failing to beat his time.

Fernando Alonso marginally scraped into Q2 with the 15th-fastest time to pip Alex Albon, but his Aston Martin colleague Lance Stroll – confirmed as his team-mate for 2025 this week – was knocked out in Q1. The Canadian was joined by Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu in being eliminated.

Verstappen roars to Austrian GP pole

In Q2, Verstappen set the pace by going nearly a second quicker than Leclerc on brand new soft tyres and no other driver came within four tenths of the Red Bull star, with Sainz the closest at 0.439 seconds behind.

With Verstappen in a league of his own, the battle was on between the RBs, Alpines and Haas to squeeze into the top-10 shootout in Q3. Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg was the big winner to improve on his time along with Esteban Ocon, with Ricciardo, Tsunoda, Alonso, Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen all missing the cut.

And when Q3 arrived, there was only one driver likely to pull off a stunning hot lap as Verstappen roared home to clinch his 40th career pole position in front of his adoring fanbase.

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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