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