Verstappen pips Norris to Sprint Qualifying pole in Austria

Max Verstappen will line up in pole position for the Sprint in Austria, having stormed to the top of the timesheets ahead of the McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri in a busy Sprint Qualifying session.

With every driver in SQ3 posting just one flying lap in the final minutes, the pressure was on to deliver. And deliver Verstappen did, pumping in a time of 1:04.686s in the Red Bull to go just 0.093s clear of McLaren’s Norris in second.

Fellow McLaren driver Piastri took third, with the Mercedes of George Russell slotting into fourth ahead of the lead Ferrari of Carlos Sainz in fifth. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will share the third row with the Spaniard in sixth place.

Sergio Perez put his Red Bull in P7, ahead of the Alpine pair of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly in P8 and P9 respectively. Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, had a disastrous end to Sprint Qualifying, having failed to set a time after stopping in the pit lane before being unable to cross the line before the chequered flag, leaving him in P10.

Kevin Magnussen just missed out on SQ3 in the Haas, being less than one tenth off in P11, while Aston Martin saw both of their cars out of the segment, with Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso qualifying in P12 and P13 respectively.

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda took 14th, following on from the team’s tough weekend last time out in Barcelona, while Logan Sargeant will start from 15th for Williams, though a positive for the American was that he managed to out-qualify team mate Alex Albon.

Daniel Ricciardo faced an early exit after failing to progress beyond P16 in the RB, with the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg also seeing his day end in SQ1, the German set to line up in P17.

The Kick Sauber duo of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu will start from 18th and 20th respectively, the team’s first point of the year still eluding them, while Albon is sandwiched between them in 19th.

Norris once again missed out by the narrowest of margins.


After a busy sole practice hour earlier in the day – which was briefly interrupted when Verstappen’s RB20 stopped on track, before he later rejoined the session – the drivers returned to action later on Friday for Sprint Qualifying, ready to decide the grid for Saturday’s Sprint.

It was a quiet start as the 12-minute SQ1 segment got underway at 16:30 local time before a flurry of cars left the pit lane around three minutes in, all sporting the mandatory fresh medium tyres.

Hamilton was one of the first to put a lap in but, amid a big slide at Turn 1, the Mercedes driver’s time was deleted for track limits. His team mate Russell, meanwhile, slotted into P1 on the timesheets as the initial laps came in.

The Briton soon found himself displaced by Verstappen, however, who went quickest via an effort of 1:05.690s. Some big names looked to be at risk in the elimination zone, including Alonso, Ricciardo and the aforementioned Hamilton thanks to his deleted lap.

With the clock ticking down, most of the field had returned to the track in an attempt to secure their place in SQ2. Alonso and Hamilton both improved but, on a traffic-filled circuit, only progressed to P11 and P12 respectively.

Sargeant also hauled himself out of danger by going up into P14, but others were unable to better their times. While the RB of Tsunoda just made it through in P15 – despite a big spin off track on his final lap – team mate Ricciardo was not so lucky, exiting in P16.

Hulkenberg failed to improve for Haas in 17th, with the Kick Sauber of Bottas meeting the same fate in 18th.

Albon had initially looked safe before being pushed back into the elimination zone, resulting in the Williams driver ending the session in 19th, while Kick Sauber’s Zhou brings up the rear in 20th.

Leclerc had a difficult day, failing to put a timed lap on the board in SQ3.

Knocked out: Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Albon, Zhou


Verstappen and Perez were the first to head out onto the Red Bull Ring as the 10-minute SQ2 began, and the Dutchman was quick to set an early benchmark, going fastest on a time of 1:05.186s. This put him one-tenth clear of Russell in second.

After only eight drivers put an initial time on the board – again all running the new medium tyre that is mandatory in this segment – the remaining seven joining the fray in the final minutes, with those at risk being Sargeant, Alonso, Gasly, Magnussen and Tsunoda.

While Gasly moved forwards to 10th – just behind Alpine team mate Ocon in ninth – Stroll was pushed down into the danger zone with a wild moment at Turn 10, having earlier looked to be comfortably into the top 10.

Magnussen just missed out on SQ3 in 11th, being less than one tenth away from Gasly, while Stroll also exited in 12th, marking a difficult day for Aston Martin as Alonso did not make it through either in 13th.

The other drivers eliminated were Tsunoda in P14 and Sargeant in P15, though the American could at least take heart from out-qualifying Williams team mate Albon.

Sargeant outqualified team mate Albon – something of a rare occurance.

Knocked out: Magnussen, Stroll, Alonso, Tsunoda, Sargeant


As the eight minutes started to tick down for SQ3, there was again a quiet start as everyone bided their time in the pits. With just three minutes remaining, the Mercedes pair broke the silence by heading out first.

They were quickly joined by a queue of cars, with all running the soft compound required for this segment. “This might be tight on time,” Russell was warned by his engineer over the radio, with everyone having just one lap to get this right.

There was drama for Leclerc, who stopped in the pit lane before managing to get his Ferrari going again. Could he make it to the chequered flag in time to get a lap on the board? It turned out the answer was no, and the Monegasque missed out on the top-10 shootout… much to his annoyance.

At the front, Norris was looking racy, the McLaren going fastest of all as the times came in. But Verstappen resumed his run of topping the timesheets by surging into P1 with a lap of 1:04.686s, giving him an advantage of 0.093s over Norris in second.

The other McLaren of Piastri followed in third, ahead of Russell in fourth, Sainz in fifth and Hamilton rounding out the top six.

Perez will line up in seventh, just ahead of the increasingly improving Alpines of Ocon and Gasly in eighth and ninth, while Leclerc will start from 10th after failing to record a timed lap.

With the grid decided, the drivers will take up their positions for the Sprint at 12:00 local time tomorrow (11:00 GMT).

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