Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secures pole position at Austrian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen followed up his sprint victory by securing pole position for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

On Red Bull’s home turf in Spielberg, and cheered on by 40,000 travelling Dutch fans, Verstappen blew away his rivals to take top spot.

The world champion produced a scintillating lap of the shortest track on the Formula One calendar to finish 0.404 seconds clear of McLaren’s Lando Norris, with George Russell third for Mercedes. Carlos Sainz finished fourth with Lewis Hamilton fifth.

“It is a great feeling and the team has worked hard to make the car competitive,” said Verstappen after landing his fourth straight pole at the Red Bull Ring. “This is a great statement and hopefully we can show that again tomorrow in the race.”

Norris led for one corner in the earlier sprint race before he left the door open to allow Verstappen to sneak back past.

“Max was in a league of his own and clearly much quicker than us,” said Norris after qualifying.

“We are going to need something extra to go our way in order to beat Max tomorrow. I will try, and I will do a better job than I did this morning. It is a long race and anything can happen so let’s see.”

The build-up to the 11th round has been dominated by Jos Verstappen’s row with Christian Horner following the former’s withdrawal from a parade of the sport’s legends prior to Sunday’s 71-lap race.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner (Christian Bruna/AP)
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has been involved in a spat with Jos Verstappen (Christian Bruna/AP)

However, Verstappen – although acknowledging that the public spat between his father and team boss “hasn’t been nice” for everyone involved at Red Bull and “could have been avoided” – has done his talking on the track with another faultless weekend so far.

Verstappen took pole for Saturday’s 23-lap dash before producing a defensive masterclass to keep Norris at bay. Four hours later, Verstappen was back at it to put himself in prime position to claim his eighth win of the season and extend his 71-point championship lead.

After running Verstappen close in Saturday’s dash to the flag, Norris, who has emerged as the Red Bull man’s closest challenger, might have hoped for more.

But the 24-year-old did not have the speed to match Verstappen, who is showing his class in a Red Bull no longer with a superior advantage. Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez qualified only eighth, nearly nine tenths adrift.

Over at Mercedes, Hamilton recorded his best result of the season in Spain six days’ ago but the seven-time world champion has been on the backfoot here.

He started and finished sixth in the sprint and then trailed team-mate Russell in qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

“Ah, I am just slow, mate,” he reported over the radio, as he finished nearly six tenths back.

Aston Martin’s slump showed few signs of reversing after Fernando Alonso qualified only 15th. Alonso has finished in the points in only one of his last four appearances and the double world champion’s disappointing run looks set to continue on Sunday.

Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll, who this week extended his stay at the team owned by his billionaire father, Lawrence Stroll, fell at the first hurdle, and will line up from 17th.

Daniel Ricciardo is in need of a strong performance after Red Bull motorsport adviser Dr Helmut Marko indicated his days are numbered at RB. And the 34-year-old Australian will take some comfort from qualifying 11th, three places clear of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.