Home Sport Sprint win in Austria brings Verstappen 40th career pole

Sprint win in Austria brings Verstappen 40th career pole

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The pole was a career 40th for the Dutch 26-year-old and his fifth at the team’s home Red Bull Ring, where he has won more times than any current driver and can count on huge support from his orange army of fans.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates after qualifying in pole position after the sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, in Spielberg, Austria on Saturday. Picture: REUTERS, Florion Goga

SPIELBERG, Austria – Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen followed up a Saturday sprint win with a statement pole position for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, with McLaren’s Lando Norris again alongside on the front row.

The pole was a career 40th for the Dutch 26-year-old and his fifth at the team’s home Red Bull Ring, where he has won more times than any current driver and can count on huge support from his orange army of fans.

Verstappen was in another league to his rivals, with Norris 0.404 slower at the circuit with the shortest lap time on the calendar.

George Russell was third fastest for Mercedes, after McLaren’s Oscar Piastri – second in the sprint with Norris third – was ruled to have exceeded track limits and dropped to seventh on the grid.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz will start fourth at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring with Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton fifth and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc sixth after running wide on his final attempt.

“We tried to adjust the car a little bit after the things that we learnt this morning, I think it worked well,” said Verstappen, who had been chased hard by the McLaren drivers in the sprint.

Verstappen nailed provisional pole with a lap of 1 minute 04.426 seconds and then went even faster with a final flying effort of 1:04.314.

He had already been more than half a second faster than anyone else in the second phase of qualifying.

“It has been a while that we have actually been on pole (for a grand prix), so it’s great,” said Verstappen, not counting top slot in the sprint.

“It’s a great feeling. The team has been working really hard to make the car more competitive and I think this is a great statement.”

EIGHTH POLE

The pole was Verstappen’s eighth in 11 races but followed a run of three in which rivals went faster in qualifying — Leclerc in Monaco, Russell in Canada and Norris in Spain.

He started the season with seven in a row.

Norris, the champion’s closest title rival but 71 points adrift and feeling under the weather all weekend, had no answer to that.

“I think it was as much as we could do today. Max was in a league of his own. Clearly much quicker than what we had, so I’m happy,” the Briton said.

Piastri had gone second momentarily but Norris pushed the Australian down to third and the stewards added another four places after ruling he had gone completely off track at turn six.

The McLaren driver was unhappy with a knife-edge decision he called embarrassing.

“I didn’t go off the track, I stayed on the track,” he said.

“I was right to the limit of the track, I think that’s what everyone wants to see … there’s no reason this corner should be an issue for track limits, especially when you stay on the track like I did. Or not in the gravel.”

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez qualified eighth – a disappointing 0.888 slower than his team mate – with Nico Hulkenberg ninth for Haas and Esteban Ocon completing the top 10 for Renault-owned Alpine.

Hamilton and Mercedes were summoned to the stewards for a potentially unsafe release after he came out of the garage and knocked over a jack in the pitlane.

Having heard from the team representative and reviewed video evidence, the stewards decided not to change Hamilton’s grid position.

“Car 44 was released from the garage in an unsafe manner dragging a jack and an exhaust extractor behind it,” the statement said. “The stewards acknowledge that the team immediately informed the driver to stop to prevent any further damage and/or dangerous situation.”

Hulkenberg was also under investigation for two separate pitlane breaches.

RB’s Daniel Ricciardo will start 11th, well ahead of 14th placed team mate Yuki Tsunoda, while Alpine’s Pierre Gasly had his lap time deleted in the second phase and dropped to 13th. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso qualified only 15th.

Reuters

Writing by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Clare Fallon, Ed Osmond and Alison Williams

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