Verstappen secures back-to-back pole, beating title rival Hamilton

Max Verstappen claimed his back-to-back pole position with a solid qualifying performance at the Red Bull Ring, finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, who made a mistake on his final Q3 lap.

Verstappen will start alongside Hamilton on the front row as Bottas will take a three-place grid penalty for his FP2 pitlane spin, with the trio the only top ten drivers getting through Q3 on the medium compound, with which they will start the main race.

At the end of Q3, Verstappen set two laps that were good enough for pole, but it was his one minute, 03.841 seconds time from his first run that clinched it.

The Red Bull driver ran at the rear of the queue for the final Q3 fliers, but ended up posting a one minute, 03.919 seconds with his last effort.

Bottas improved to second with his final run, but the 0.194 seconds difference to Verstappen meant the championship leader was the only driver to brake the one minute, 04 seconds bracket.

Hamilton unusually had three goes in Q3 as he took the track almost immediately after the final segment began, posting a one minute, 04.208 seconds.

He came into the pits and then joined the usual sequence for two further runs, with his middle effort – a one minute, 04.067 seconds – ending up being his best, when he posted the fastest time in the first sector, as Verstappen came away with the best times in the first two thirds of the lap from his first run.

Hamilton followed Verstappen out of the pits ahead of the final runs and completed a much faster out-lap where he overtook a gaggle of cars touring slowly through the final turns and waiting to begin their laps.

The world champion ended up following Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who ended up P7, and was 0.2 seconds down on Verstappen’s first run time at the end of the first sector, which became 0.45 seconds down after the middle third was complete.

Hamilton then had to catch an oversteer snap as he ran through the penultimate corner and was sent wide, the time being deleted for a track limits offence even though he ended up posting a lap over two seconds slower than his personal best.

Lando Norris took fourth ahead of Sergio Perez, with the duo each to be boosted one spot up the grid on Sunday by Bottas’s penalty.

Pierre Gasly was sixth, with his teammate Yuki Tsunoda ending up behind Leclerc but facing a post-qualifying investigation after appearing to hold up Bottas at Turn 4 during the Finn’s first flying lap in Q3.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso took ninth ahead of Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll, who made it into Q3 despite having his final lap in Q2 deleted for a track limits infringement by running to wide at the final corner.

At the end of Q2, George Russell ended up P11 and just 0.008 seconds from a first Q3 appearance for Williams after Alonso’s last-gasp improvement knocked the Briton out.

Carlos Sainz lost his best time in Q2 – the one minute, 04.711 seconds he set on his final run in the middle segment – for running too wide out of the penultimate corner, but he would have been behind Russell in any case.

Daniel Ricciardo was only P13 for McLaren, ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who lost an identical time to Sainz’s deleted effort on his final lap in Q2, but the German driver had his taken away for running to wide at the final corner.

Antonio Giovinazzi made it through to Q2 for Alfa Romeo, but ended up P15 and last of the Q2 runners.

In Q1, Nicholas Latifi and Esteban Ocon were shuffled down the order as other drivers improved on their final laps, with the latter a shock exit despite setting a personal best on his last effort for Alpine.

Kimi Raikkonen also set a personal best on his final flier but was dumped out in P18, The Iceman also skating through the gravel at Turn 4 – the long, downhill right at the end of the track’s third long acceleration zone – at the end of the runs in the middle part of the opening segment.

Mick Schumacher abandoned his final Q1 run after catching an oversteer snap and taking to the runoff at the exit of the first corner, but his previous best effort still kept him ahead of his Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin, who brought up the rear of the field.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen with pole position. Starting at the sharp end of the grid at the team’s home race is an advantage. Lewis Hamilton is next to him on the front row but can challenge his rival to the title? Bring on the race.

Styrian Grand Prix qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing-Honda 1:03.841
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.067
3 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:04.120
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing-Honda 1:04.168
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.035
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:04.236
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:04.472
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:04.514
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:04.574
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:04.708
11 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:04.671
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:04.800
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:04.808
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:04.875
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:04.913
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:05.175
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:05.217
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:05.429
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:06.041
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:06.192

3 thoughts to “Verstappen secures back-to-back pole, beating title rival Hamilton”

  1. Styrian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Max Verstappen gave Red Bull the perfect start to the first of two races on home soil by delivering a scintillating lap to fend off Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to snatch pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix – his second in a row.

    The Red Bull Ring has been a happy hunting ground for Verstappen in years gone by, with the two-time winner looking to have his RB16B hooked up beautifully from the start of qualifying, making good progress as the one-hour session built to a crescendo.

    Championship leader Verstappen set provisional pole with his first run and his second lap was also good enough to take top spot, as the Mercedes challenge fell short. Bottas popped ahead of Hamilton into second which a very tidy lap at the death, but he’ll drop back to fifth following a three-place penalty for ‘dangerous driving’ when he spun in the pit lane during practice.

    That promotes Hamilton to second spot, having crossed the line third, with the Mercedes driver opting to do three runs in Q3 having saved a set of soft tyres from the opening segment.

    The seven-time champion’s first lap was a decent banker, and while he improved on his second run, he was still a quarter of a second off the pace. The reigning world champion then appeared to get his out lap wrong for his third try, which potentially took too much out of his tyres and he failed to improve as he slid wide late on in his final run.

    McLaren’s Lando Norris ended up a strong fourth – which will become third for the second time at this track, following Bottas’ penalty – ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

    Pierre Gasly showed strong pace throughout – and was quickest of all in Q2 – qualifying sixth for AlphaTauri, his sixth top-six start in eight Grands Prix weekends. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was seventh, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda who made his second Q3 appearance in the last three Grands Prix, but is under investigation for an alleged block of Bottas.

    Fernando Alonso was Alpine’s sole representative in Q3, after team mate Esteban Ocon was knocked out in the first part of the session, with the Spaniard ninth as Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll outqualified team mate Sebastian Vettel for the first time in four races to close out the top 10.

    Q1 – Ocon makes shock exit as Verstappen and Hamilton ease through

    Warm and dry conditions greeted the drivers as qualifying go underway at the Red Bull Ring, carved into the Styrian hillside. The likes of Verstappen and Hamilton comfortably set laps good enough to progress, with the latter only using one set of soft tyres.

    As the clock ticked down, Antonio Giovinazzi and Sebastian Vettel found themselves in the drop zone, with Perez on the cusp – but all three got their final laps together to haul themselves to safety.

    Ocon couldn’t follow suit, though, the Alpine driver failing to back up his top-three pace in FP2 as he took an early bath, meaning he has failed to reach Q3 in any of the last four Grands Prix.

    He’ll start the race 17th, one place behind Nicholas Latifi – who missed out on Q2 by just a tenth of a second. Alfa’s Kimi Raikkonen – who had an off-track excursion into the gravel – and the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin completed the classification.

    Knocked out: Latifi, Ocon, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Mazepin

    Q2 – Sainz, Vettel and Ricciardo knocked out

    Hamilton and Bottas headed out on the medium tyres, as did Verstappen, with the trio keen to start the race on the more durable tyre, while the rest didn’t feel they had enough pace in hand and therefore opted for the soft compound.

    Hamilton and Bottas were pretty scruffy on their first runs, so were forced to go again – but they stuck to mediums. And their second runs were enough to see them through to the top 10 shoot-out.

    Further behind, Carlos Sainz and Vettel gave themselves plenty of work to do after having laps deleted for track limits, and ultimately weren’t able to recover, leaving them 12th and 14th on the grid respectively. That’s the second time this season Sainz has exited qualifying in Q2.

    Daniel Ricciardo appeared to have made progress with his McLaren on Friday as he finished second quickest in FP2, but he looked all at sea in Saturday morning running – and failed to get any more of a handle on the MCL35M in qualifying.

    The Australian ended up 13th, with Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi 15th. George Russell came within 0.008s of making Q3, but will line up a strong 11th – with a free choice of tyres – to equal the position he qualified in the wet at the Red Bull Ring last year.

    Knocked out: Russell, Sainz, Ricciardo, Vettel, Giovinazzi

    Q3 – Verstappen pips Hamilton to take pole

    Hamilton went out early in Q3, the reigning world champion getting the track to himself as he was the only one of the top 10 to have enough soft tyres to do three runs.

    His initial time of 1m 04.205s was quicker than he’d managed all session, but not the fastest time in qualifying. He dived back into the pits as everyone else went out, with Verstappen setting a very strong benchmark four-tenths clear of Hamilton with his first flying effort.

    Hamilton’s second lap was better, but he was still a quarter of a second adrift, as we approached the final runs. The Briton unusually attacked his out lap, to move to the front of the queue, but set a first sector that was 0.25s off Verstappen, all but ending his hopes of snatching pole.

    His team mate Bottas did improve, however, and went second, demoting Hamilton to third in the session, but the Briton would regain the place once Bottas’ three-place grid penalty was applied.

  2. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen would ‘print out’ proof that his team’s gains is just not down to engine. has the details.

    Max Verstappen wants to “print out” proof that Red Bull’s straight-line speed gains are down to its rear wing set-up to stop questions about his Formula 1 engine.

    Verstappen opened up a 12-point lead over Lewis Hamilton at the top of the F1 drivers’ championship with victory in France last weekend, passing for the win with two laps to go.

    Hamilton made regular reference to Red Bull’s straight-line speed performance at Paul Ricard, saying that Mercedes could not compete.

    The performance by Red Bull in France came after the introduction of a new power unit from Honda, moving onto the second engine of the year. But performance upgrades are banned on power units this year, with only changes made for reliability reasons being permitted between different specifications.

    Christian Horner said after France that he was “baffled” by Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff’s comments about Red Bull’s power unit performance, noting the “much smaller rear wing” the team had been running to help its straight-line performance.

    Wolff clarified in Styria that he was not referring to the engine, but Horner took a dig at Hamilton’s theories.

    Speaking in the press conference after his run to pole for the Styrian Grand Prix on Saturday, Verstappen hit back at a question over the Honda’s engine performance at altitude, highlighting Red Bull’s low-downforce rear wing.

    “I think next time, I am going to bring a print-out of the rear wing difference we’re running, and then I’m going to hand it over to every single journalist,” Verstappen said.

    “Because I get these questions [for] two or three weeks now, that we are really quick in the straight, and yes we are. But look at our rear wing. I don’t think it’s exactly the same.

    “For sure, Honda did a great job compared to last year. But from our first engine to the engine we have in the car now, it’s all about reliability improvements, and no clear advantage on pure power.

    “So I’m going to fire up my printer next time, and I’m going to hand over a few shots.”

    Verstappen was able to beat Mercedes to pole by two tenths of a second at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday, with the track being a power-sensitive layout thanks to its three long straights.

    Hamilton again made reference to the straight-line speed of the Red Bull RB16B after qualifying.

    “They’ve had straight-line speed again here this weekend, which is hard for us to compete with,” Hamilton said.

    “But I’m really proud of the team for just continuing to push hard and not leaving any stone unturned.”

  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton doubts his team has raw pace to pass Red Bull. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton doubts Mercedes has the “raw pace” to overtake Red Bull in Sunday’s Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix after being beaten to pole by Max Verstappen.

    Hamilton entered the race weekend looking to bounce back from a late defeat to Verstappen in France last Sunday, but struggled to match his pace through practice on Friday.

    Hamilton managed to top FP3 for Mercedes, only for Verstappen to hit back in qualifying as he produced two laps good enough for pole position, ultimately finishing two tenths clear of the field.

    Valtteri Bottas took second for Mercedes, but will drop back to fifth thanks to a grid penalty, promoting Hamilton onto the front row despite the Briton’s mistake on his final lap that saw him run wide at Turn 10.

    Hamilton said after qualifying that he was unsure Mercedes had the outright pace to fight to Red Bull in the race, but hoped he could keep pace with Verstappen at the front.

    “They’ve been so fast this weekend, so we have been giving it absolutely everything,” Hamilton said.

    “It wasn’t the greatest of sessions but, nonetheless, we’re still on the front row after the penalty so we’re going to race tomorrow for a fight.

    “They generally have a quarter of a second on us all weekend. And I think we’ve managed to eke closer in qualifying, but in race trim yesterday, they were one quarter of a second ahead of us most of the time.

    “It’ll be interesting to see whether or not we can manage it. I don’t think we have raw pace to overtake them, that’s for sure. But might just be able to keep up.”

    It marked only the third time since the start of the V6 hybrid era that Mercedes had been beaten to pole at the Red Bull Ring, following Williams’ success in 2014 and Ferrari’s 2019 pole.

    Hamilton has failed to win any of the last three races, causing him to slip 12 points behind Verstappen at the top of the drivers’ championship.

    “I will be giving it everything, obviously, but I am just talking about pure pace,” Hamilton said.

    “But maybe tomorrow, we’ll be surprised. Maybe it rains. Who knows?”

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