Verstappen narrowly bests Ferrari for Austrian pole position after Mercedes chaos


Max Verstappen scored his third consecutive pole in Austria following a double-DNF for Mercedes.

Verstappen ended FP1 in good form after topping the timesheets, with Red Bull now focusing their sights on pole position on home soil.

Track limits had become a talking point in the first session, with the storyline continuing with Carlos Sainz losing his fastest lap time early on in Q1. Verstappen soon followed him in doing so, but both would later secure a lap.

Zhou Guanyu was the first driver out in Qualifying, ending Q1 in 18th following his horror crash at the British Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo bested the Chinese driver while both Aston Martin drivers were knocked, with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi set to start tomorrow’s Sprint in 19th.

Mercedes continued their strong upturn in form by placing their cars first and third in the opening minutes of Q2, with Lewis Hamilton leading the pack before Charles Leclerc would eventually best him.

Lando Norris told his engineer that he was “scared to hit the brakes” following a difficult weekend, with an issue in FP1 leaving the Brit struggling for pace. Track limits and slow pace left Norris down in 15th at the chequered flag.

Valtteri Bottas will start 13th in Saturday’s session, with Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly failing to break into Q3 for AlphaTauri. Once again, Alex Albon shined in Qualifying, narrowly missing out on Q3 for Williams.

As the drivers began their out laps in Q3, the stewards confirmed that Sergio Perez had been placed under investigation for exceeding track limits after the Red Bull was seen to leave the circuit at turn eight in Q2.

Verstappen would place his RB18 on provisional pole, with Hamilton appearing to be on the pace. Suddenly, after several preparation laps, the seven-time world champion lost his W13 on the exit of turn seven, skidding across the gravel and hitting the barrier.

The red flag was brought out to allow the marshals to clean up the stricken W13, while fans at the circuit were heard to be cheering during Hamilton’s crash.

The session resumed but was quickly ended as the other Mercedes of George Russell smashed into the barriers on the exit of the final corner, leaving both Silver Arrows with lots of repairs ahead of tomorrow’s Sprint.

The drivers had just one run left to make it count, with Leclerc using the advantage to initially leapfrog title rival Verstappen before the Dutchman would take a third consecutive pole position at the Red Bull Ring.

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