Verstappen scores pole position with Norris taking an excellent second

Championship leader Max Verstappen achieved his third successive pole position, beating Lando Norris in the McLaren to take P1 at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez slotted into third for Red Bull Racing, while the Mercedes drivers trailing in fourth and fifth position after they were unable to improve on their final Q3 laps.

As was the case in last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix, Verstappen set pole on his first run in the final part of qualifying with a time of one minute, 03.720 seconds.

Max led the pack for the final fliers but was down throughout the opening two sectors and despite setting a purple third sector Verstappen ended up fractionally down on his best time.

Norris had been second after the opening Q3 runs and held onto to take his best Formula 1 career qualifying spot, just 0.048 seconds down on Verstappen after recording the fastest time in the first sector on his final flying lap.

Perez jumped to third with his final lap, which bumped Hamilton and Bottas down, as neither Black Arrows driver went faster on their second attempts in Q3.

They were followed by AlphaTauri pair Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, with birthday boy Sebastian Vettel taking eighth but now faces a post-qualifying investigation for appearing to impede Fernando Alonso at the end of Q2.

George Russell took a sensational ninth for Williams in his first Q3 appearance for the team, which got a car through to the final part of qualifying for the first time since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix.

Russell only had one attempt in Q3, but managed to beat Lance Stroll to ninth position.

The Ferrari duo stayed on the medium tyres throughout Q2 but were knocked out by Russell’s final effort, as the Williams driver made it through to the final segment on the yellow-walled tyre along with the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers and Norris.

Carlos Sainz led Charles Leclerc in P11 and P12, with Daniel Ricciardo unable to find enough time on his final run after switching from the mediums to the softs to avoid elimination in P13.

Alonso ended up P14 after his final Q2 lap was spoiled by encountering Vettel going slowly on the racing line ahead of the last corner as the Alpine approached at high speed.

Vettel appeared to step on the gas when Alonso came up behind him but the damage to the two-time champion’s lap was done as he had to lift off heading through the fast right-hander.

The drivers had been warned ahead of FP3 not to drive slowly between the final two corners via an update to race director Michael Masi’s event notes, with Vettel therefore likely to take a penalty over the incident, which infuriated Alonso, who gestured angrily at the Aston Martin driver after passing by on the pit straight, with Vettel – who was left without enough time to start a final flying lap in Q2 – waving back in apology as they went through Turn 1.

Antonio Giovinazzi could not replicate his strong FP3 form and finished P15 after progressing through from Q1.

In the opening segment, Russell’s last-gasp improvement to continue his impressive record of progressing to Q2 in 2021 knocked out Kimi Raikkonen, who set his personal best lap on his final lap but did not improve enough to go through.

Esteban Ocon had been at risk of elimination throughout the first phase of qualifying and while the Alpine driver did find time on his final Q1 run he was shuffled down the order as others improved at the end and the Alpine driver ended up P17.

Nicholas Latifi took P18 for Williams, ahead of Haas pair Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

So an excellent qualifying session for the orange crowd with Verstappen taking pole position and McLaren grabbing a front row start thanks to Norris. Bring on the race!

Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:03.720
2 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:03.768
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:03.990
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.014
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.049
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:04.107
7 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:04.273
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:04.570
9 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:04.591
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:04.618
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:04.559
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:04.600
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:04.719
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:04.856
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:05.083
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:05.009
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:05.051
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:05.195
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:05.427
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:05.951

5 thoughts to “Verstappen scores pole position with Norris taking an excellent second”

  1. Austrian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Max Verstappen took pole position at the Red Bull Ring for the second weekend in a row as he fended off a shock threat from Lando Norris to take top spot on the grid for the Austrian Grand Prix.

    Red Bull’s Verstappen led the way throughout qualifying, topping the opening two segments to head into Q3 as favourite for P1 – and he set a competitive benchmark, 0.2s quicker than Norris.

    The Dutchman failed to improve on his second run, setting up a tense finale as Norris behind him was going quicker. In the end, he missed out on a shock maiden pole by just 0.048s, giving Verstappen his third consecutive P1 start and bringing his tally to four for 2021.

    Norris will start P2 for the first time in his career, as he gave McLaren their first front row start since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, when Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button took first and second for the team.

    Sergio Perez improved to leap up into third in the second Red Bull, which relegated Mercedes to the unusual positions of fourth and fifth respectively, with neither Hamilton nor Valtteri Bottas able to make any impact on the Red Bulls’ – and Norris’ – consistently good pace.

    Fourth is Hamilton’s worst performance in Q3 at the Red Bull Ring since 2014, while it is the first time Mercedes missed out on a top three spot with either car in dry conditions since the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix.

    Pierre Gasly continued his immense qualifying form with sixth – his seventh top six start this season and fifth in a row, with his AlphaTauri team mate Yuki Tsunoda tying his best-ever qualifying performance with seventh.

    Birthday boy Sebastian Vettel – 34 today – was the leading Aston Martin in eighth, however he could be in line for a grid penalty after baulking Fernando Alonso earlier in qualifying.

    And it was a sensational day for George Russell as the Briton not only made it into Q3 for the first time in a Williams but he did so on the medium tyre, putting him in a strong position strategically for Sunday’s race.

    His sole Q3 lap was impressive, too, putting him ninth – one place ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll – to give Williams their best grid slot since Felipe Massa in the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix.

    Q1 – Ocon and Raikkonen out early, as Ricciardo scrapes through

    The drivers were treated to packed grandstands – mostly made up of orange-clad Verstappen fans – as they headed out for the opening segment of qualifying. And their hero gave them plenty to smile about early doors as he shot to the top of the timesheets.

    The Dutchman fended off a strong challenge from Lando Norris, with Fernando Alonso slotting into second as a mix of soft and medium tyres were the compounds of choice.

    At the other end of the pack, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were the unfamiliar faces in the drop zone after the first runs, with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll on the bubble to crank up the pressure.

    Stroll and Gasly responded well to see themselves through but while Ocon improved, it wasn’t enough to avoid an early bath as he missed out by 0.07s. Kimi Raikkonen’s qualifying woes continued, too, as he failed to make it through.

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

    Q2 – Russell goes through on the medium, as Verstappen impresses

    Perez had the track to himself as Q2 got underway, with the Mexican doing a decent lap on the medium tyres and saying on team radio that he hooked it all up but just lacked the tow.

    As he returned to the pits, everyone else headed out at the same time, with the 14 drivers jostling for position to get some clear air ahead of the flying laps – with Leclerc and Verstappen going side by side at the top of the hill at Turn 3.

    Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari opted to head out on the mediums – in a bid to start the race on the more durable rubber – with the rest taking the soft. It didn’t work out for Ferrari, with Sainz and Leclerc 11th and 12th and in the drop zone along with Alonso, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi.

    Verstappen kept his spot at the top, with Norris once again his closest challenger as he split the Red Bulls. Sebastian Vettel was fourth on the softs, with Hamilton the best placed Mercedes in fifth, three tenths off the pace.

    As they headed back out for the second runs, Ferrari opted to stick with the mediums – while Russell swapped softs for the mediums having apologised to his team for going too fast on the softs (as it was not the rubber he would want to start the race on).

    It proved to be an inspired move by the Briton and his Williams team as Russell went even quicker on the mediums clocking a lap that was good enough to make Q3 by just 0.006s. The Ferraris couldn’t follow suit, with Sainz and Leclerc dropping out in 11th and 12th, meaning there was no Ferrari in Q3 for the first time since Bahrain last year.

    Ricciardo also failed to make it through, finishing eight places behind team mate Norris, while Alonso was furious in 14th after getting baulked by Vettel at the final corner. The double world champion let rid on team radio and gesticulated wildly as he drove past a slowing Vettel, who himself raised his hand as an apology for getting in the way.

    Up top, Verstappen maintained the quickest time but Hamilton and Bottas improved to second and third, ahead of Gasly and Norris.

    Knocked out: Sainz, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Alonso, Giovinazzi

    Q3 – Verstappen takes pole as Mercedes challenge fades

    Verstappen may have set the early benchmark, a couple of tenths of a second quicker than Norris, but the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas were lurking just a tenth further back after the first runs.

    It was Verstappen who headed out first for the final run, with the team keen to give him some clear air after he made a small error on his first attempt. He didn’t improve, with the Dutchman unhappy with the team’s strategy, saying he would discuss it after the session.

    That left Norris with a chance to take a shock pole, the McLaren driver quick all weekend and making gains on his second run to put him within a sniff of pole. But he ran a little wide at the final turn, and that may well have cost him what would have been his first F1 pole.

    Perez improved to take third, making it two Red Bulls in the top three for the first time at the Red Bull Ring, as the Mercedes challenge faded, the Silver Arrow simply lacking the pace to compete for pole.

  2. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen explains ‘pretty bad’ pole position lap in Austria. Despite that, the championship leader is in P1. has the news story.

    Max Verstappen revealed that he was “not very happy” with his final lap in Formula 1 qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix despite scoring his third pole in a row.

    Verstappen edged out surprise pole contender Lando Norris by 0.048 seconds in the final stage of qualifying at the Red Bull Ring to grab first place on the grid for Sunday’s race.

    It marked Verstappen’s fourth pole of the season, and gives the Dutchman a huge chance to extend his points lead over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship after the Mercedes driver could only qualify fourth on the grid.

    Despite delivering two laps good enough for pole position, Verstappen was unhappy with how the final stage of qualifying went.

    After crossing the line, he told his engineer that “we will never, ever do that again, to go first”, later adding: “That was P1, but we’ll talk about it later.”

    Verstappen had been on his own at the front of the queue of cars in Q3, meaning he could not pick up a tow from anyone ahead.

    Speaking in parc ferme shortly after grabbing pole, Verstappen said that he was unhappy with the fashion in which he had topped qualifying.

    “I think it was pretty bad,” Verstappen said when asked to talk through his pole lap. I’m of course happy to be first, but not the way we got it. So, something to look into.

    “But of course to be twice on pole nevertheless here is very good. Hopefully we can finish it off tomorrow.”

    Explaining what went wrong after qualifying, Verstappen said that a lock-up on his first Q3 lap and a lack of slipstream on his second lap had left him frustrating.

    “Q1 and Q2 were very good I think, it was all going really smooth and the laps were good enough,” Verstappen said.

    “Just in Q3, the first lap, I locked up at Turn 3. It wasn’t amazing, and, yeah, the second one I was the first car out so I just lost time on the straights. So, couldn’t improve my lap, even with a more normal Turn 3.

    “So it was still good enough for first but I would have liked to just have a better Q3.”

    Verstappen extended his advantage at the top of the drivers’ championship by winning last Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix from pole position, leading every single lap of the race.

    Verstappen has the chance to double up at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, but said a point of focus would be the softer tyre compounds compared to last weekend’s race.

    “The compounds are softer compared to last week, so it will be tough to manage those in the race,” Verstappen said.

    “But besides that, I think, yeah, just try to focus on our own race and then of course, we’ll try to win it. But it’s never straightforward.”

    Verstappen will be joined in the top three on the grid by Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who enjoyed his best qualifying since the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in April.

    “We’ve been chasing a lot the balance, just exploring the cars in all areas and just chipping away every single run,” Perez said.

    “So it didn’t even come easy. It was very hard work, harder than you might think. But, yeah, in the end we got a good lap and a good start position for tomorrow.

    “I believe that tomorrow we’ve got a better race car than in qualifying.”

  3. McLaren’s Lando Norris “will go for it” if chance to attack Max Verstappen appears in the race. has the full story.

    Lando Norris will take the chance to “go for it” and race Max Verstappen in Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix if he can, but remains “realistic” over McLaren’s race potential.

    Norris will share the front row with Verstappen for Sunday’s second 2021 race at the Red Bull Ring, after they topped qualifying, with the Red Bull driver claiming pole.

    In last weekend’s Styrian GP at the same venue, Norris opted not to defend hard against Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas after starting third, as he was wary of damaging his tyres and therefore falling back to the chasing midfield pack once the ‘Class A’ runners had gone by.

    He successfully took fifth in that race, usually the maximum result for McLaren if none of the frontrunners hit trouble, and initially joked that “probably another P5” would be his target in the Austrian GP.

    But Norris then explained his attitude towards racing Verstappen if an opportunity arises because he wants “to be optimistic”.

    Norris said: “We’ll do our best to try and take a step forwards and go in the right direction.

    “But it wasn’t like we were exactly close last weekend and now we have that little bit more of a step, I don’t want to be too negative, I want to be optimistic as I should be.

    “But I’m also realistic and know that it’s going to be a very tough race.

    “We’re in the best position possible to maximise everything, but if I have a chance to go for P1, a chance to race Max and go for it then I will.

    “I’m still doing that, I’m still racing – I still want to do the best I can.

    “But I think I also know what’s best for us, what’s best for myself and the team and who we’re, sadly, really racing against in the race tomorrow.”

    Norris ended up just 0.048s behind Verstappen after the final runs in Q3 on Saturday, where the Red Bull driver did not improve due to a lack of tow running at the head of the shootout pack.

    But Norris does not think he would be able to find enough time to claim pole if he had the chance to do his final lap again.

    “Of course there’s always that little bit, but I’m sure Max would say the same thing,” he explained.

    “It’s tough because it’s so easy to just run that little bit wide and get your lap deleted and so on.

    “And I think I improved already quite a bit in those last two corners compared to the rest of my lap.

    “It’s like risk versus reward and how much do you really risk? And I think I took the risk and I ended up where I did.

    “But if I think if I had loads more opportunities or if you gave me another opportunity I don’t necessarily think I would improve that much more.

    “We are where we are. Throughout this year we know we don’t have a good enough car comparing to Red Bull or Mercedes in general, and maybe today we do, but considering how much quicker they were last weekend I think it’s obvious we struggle in a lot of areas.

    “The car is not as quick as them and a lot of things are not possible comparing to them. So, I think I maximised our result and that’s all I could do.”

  4. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton predicts “easy cruise win” for Max Verstappen in Austria following qualifying. provides the details.

    Lewis Hamilton is focusing on damage limitation after qualifying fourth for the Austrian Grand Prix, predicting an “easy cruise win” for Formula 1 title rival and pole-sitter Max Verstappen.

    Hamilton had hoped to cut the gap to Red Bull after Mercedes was handed a drubbing in last Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix, failing to put up a fight at the front for victory as Hamilton spent every lap of the race in second place.

    But qualifying for the second race at the Red Bull Ring saw Hamilton struggle to fourth place as Verstappen took his third pole position in a row for Red Bull.

    McLaren’s Lando Norris took a surprise second place on the grid, while Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, will start third.

    “It’s even more of a challenge than it was already last week, and [we] continue to lack pace,” Hamilton said. “I tried everything to get more out of the car. It’s just the underlying pace, that’s where we’re at, at the moment. So we’ve got to really find performance in the following races.

    “I don’t know if McLaren have brought an upgrade, but they’re mega quick today, so great job from Lando. We’ve just got to try and improve.”

    Pole for Verstappen gives the Red Bull driver a chance to extend his 18-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship, while the team could also stretch out its 40-point advantage over Mercedes in the constructors’ standings.

    Hamilton felt he was losing “just a little bit everywhere” compared to Verstappen’s pole lap, and felt that a recovery to victory was definitely out of the question for Mercedes.

    “In terms of pure pace, it’s definitely out of the question,” Hamilton said. “Those guys firstly have got two cars to get by in front, and they’ve got three tenths on us, I think they’ve improved their car again this weekend.

    “I would say that’s an easy cruise win for Max. I think for us, it’s to try and see if we can get ahead of at least Perez, and try to limit the damage this weekend.”

    Valtteri Bottas qualified fifth in the sister Mercedes car, and admitted after the session that he had expected to be closer to Red Bull for outright pace.

    “Yes – in fact, we went a little bit backwards from last weekend or others [gained] more than us,” Bottas said. “I would say maybe a tenth or two we’re missing where we should have been. So I don’t know if it’s because of the C5 compound, or clearly McLaren has found something.

    “That’s where the pace of the car was today.”

  5. Fernando Alonso says any penalty handed to Sebastian Vettel for blocking him in qualifying for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix won’t be enough, after claiming his weekend is effectively “over”.

    Alonso was on his final flying lap in Q2 and looked on course to make it in to the top ten positions, before he was held up by a slow Vettel as they ran through the last corner.

    The Spaniard failed to make it through to Q3, and will now start the race from 14th on the grid.

    Although Vettel immediately knew he had done wrong and waved to apologise to his Alpine rival, it did not stop the Spaniard being left furious at what happened.

    And even if Vettel is handed a grid penalty, having been summoned to the stewards, Alonso reckons the punishment will not fit the crime, as he is now consigned to a race where it will be very difficult to score points.

    “I think we lost the opportunity to be P5/P6 on the grid and a different race,” Alonso told Sky. “Now I guess we will not score points tomorrow.

    “So whatever penalty they give to the others, this is never enough. It’s the way it is.

    “I think it was very badly managed by the people in front. I’m disappointed because I think we had the potential today. It was our best car probably of the season in qualifying and we didn’t maximize it.”

    Alonso said that common sense needed to take precedence in such situations, as he felt what Vettel did was simply not acceptable.

    “It is very confusing, you know, because I think a part of the talk of the rules that they are in place, it has to be common sense [applied],” he explained. “It has to be harsh penalties, because it is not right what happened today. Very, very frustrating to lose a lot of points tomorrow. And now we have a race that we can’t forget that starting 14th is over. So another weekend, with a little bit of a strange situation for us.”

    Vettel accepted that he had done wrong in the situation, but blamed other cars for jumping him on the out lap and boxing him in to an uncomfortable situation.

    “I only saw him very late,” said the Aston Martin driver about Alonso. “So not much that I could have done.

    “I think it’s the fault of the drivers ahead that just keep jumping the queue. I don’t think that is right, and not what we sort of agreed on.”


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