Verstappen on pole yet again from superb Norris as Russell also stars

Max Verstappen underlined his title credentials by taking yet another pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of a sensational Lando Norris and teammate Sergio Perez, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton only fourth on the grid.

Verstappen’s pole was the third in succession and seventh of his F1 career to date. More importantly, it puts him in the optimum starting slot to further extend his championship lead over Hamilton as his Red Bull car once again seems the class of the field.

“I thought Q3 was pretty bad. I’m happy to be first but not the way we got it,” reflected a humble Verstappen after grabbing pole position. “It’s softer compounds to last week so will be tough to manage those in the race, but besides that I think we’ll try to focus on our own race and of course try to win it. It’s never straightforward, but we’ll see!”

Lining up alongside Verstappen on the front row is certainly not the Englishman you would have expected, and that was greeted with almost as much of a cheer by the Dutch fans assembled at the Red Bull Ring as pole itself for Verstappen.

“It’s nice,” said Norris. “It puts us in a good position for tomorrow and probably one of my best laps so it was a good feeling and lovely to share this moment with you. Everyone in orange, supporting McLaren, not Max, it’s cool to have our back. I know tomorrow’s race is going to be tough, but we did the best job we could today. I don’t know how far off pole I was but I’m happy with P2.”

Following the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas on the grid comes the mightily impressive Alpha Tauri duo of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, Sebastian Vettel next on the charts for Aston Martin on his 34th birthday. Yet perhaps the most impressive performance of the day came from Williams driver George Russell, who has been knocking on the door of Q3 all season before finally getting it done. And that achieved on the medium tyre, of which he starts.

“Q3 is mighty for us, let alone on the medium tyres,” said Russell after his qualifying session. “On the soft I backed off on the last two corners, so we knew it would be close on the softs. So I just brought it back very slightly on the softs and on the medium, I gave it absolutely everything.

“It was really hooked up, really nice and buzzing, to be honest. But qualifying is qualifying and now got to look forward to the race and points have got to be a minimum. We did a great job today, probably start P8 and we’re on the right strategy.

“We have the flexibility to do a one stop, two stop whereas the guys on the softs are going to be pretty locked in there I suspect and have a real difficult time on that opening stint. I have Alpha Tauris just ahead, Aston Martins just behind so hopefully that gives me a bit of a margin to battle off the Ferraris a little bit further and try and move forward because there’s no reason on the mediums we can’t do that.”


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Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.