until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

'Every run was on point' - Verstappen's route to crushing pole

by Jack Cozens
3 min read

Max Verstappen flattened his Formula 1 opposition in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, securing pole position by more than four tenths of a second.

The fact Verstappen had been less than a tenth faster than Lando Norris in sprint qualifying a day earlier and the McLaren driver's pace - and his challenge for the lead - in Saturday's sprint had raised hopes of a tight battle in Sunday's grand prix proper.

But the fight was one-sided in qualifying, with Verstappen - who said after the session that "every run was on point" - particularly potent on his new-tyre attempts.

All four of his runs on new softs across Q2 and Q3 would have been good enough for pole - as would his sprint qualifying time - and his eventual best of 1m04.314s left him 0.404s clear of Norris and more than half a second up on the third-best car.


That should have been Norris's McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri, but he had his final Q3 attempt scrubbed off for what appeared from his onboard to be a marginal track limits transgression at Turn 6. Piastri declared that “embarrassing” for F1.

Third instead went to Mercedes driver George Russell, who shaded Ferrari's Carlos Sainz by 0.011s on his final lap.

Lewis Hamilton was fifth in the second Mercedes ahead of Charles Leclerc, who had a scruffy end to the session.


A day after he'd been sent out too late for a final attempt in the final part of sprint qualifying, Leclerc this time was the architect of his own failure. His Ferrari stepped out at Turn 9, which took him wide into the gravel strip on the exit of the corner before the car bounced over the grass and off into runoff at Turn 10.

Leclerc, who said over his team radio afterwards that "I think I broke everything under the car", would ultimately have lost lap anyway for his own Turn 6 track limits breach.


He and Piastri were nevertheless still faster than the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, who was nowhere near matching his polesitting team-mate's time.

Perez was more than a second off Verstappen after their first Q3 attempts and was 0.888s off on his final lap - leaving him more than a tenth and a half down on Piastri.

Despite his form remaining uninspiring, Perez was never really at risk of elimination in two competitive Q1 and Q2 sessions.

The final places in Q3 were snapped up by Nico Hulkenberg and Alpine driver Esteban Ocon, who will start ninth and 10th.


Ocon made Q3 at the expense of Daniel Ricciardo, who looked the more competitive of the RB drivers in Q1 and Q2 but failed to advance to the final session by a mere 0.015s.

Pierre Gasly had been 12th fastest but lost that time for a Turn 6 track-limits breach.

That instead dropped him to 13th, behind Kevin Magnussen - who'd been fifth in Q1 and looked marginally the quicker of the Haas drivers - but ahead of the second RB of Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso, both of whom did not improve on their final attempts.


In what was a difficult session for Aston Martin, Alonso - who said after his elimination that the team had made a "good effort anyway trying something different", presumably on set-up - was the slowest of the 15 drivers advancing from Q1, albeit within four tenths of session pacesetter Sainz.

The second Aston Martin didn't even make it that far. Lance Stroll, 10th in Saturday's sprint race, was only 17th fastest in Q1 behind Williams's Alex Albon.

Valtteri Bottas had been in contention to get one of the Saubers into Q2 but could not improve on his final attempt and will start 18th, ahead of Logan Sargeant.

In a Q1 session where less than eight tenths of a second covered the entire field, Zhou Guanyu was slowest of all by more than two tenths in the second Sauber.

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