Max Verstappen claimed his third straight Formula 1 pole at the Austrian Grand Prix, but only narrowly over an incredible effort by McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Norris had already been second to Verstappen in Q1, and was then the Red Bull’s closest challenger after the first Q3 laps – sitting 0.238s adrift of the world championship leader at that point.
Then as Verstappen struggled to find more time on his last run, Norris went quickest in sector one and looked like he might even snatch a shock pole for McLaren.
Verstappen fell short of improving on his 1m03.720s provisional pole lap with his second attempt, and then meant he only fended Norris off by 0.048s – although his second lap would’ve also been good enough for pole, by 0.002s.
Mercedes was not a threat for pole, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas lining up only fourth and fifth. Sergio Perez jumped both of them to put the second Red Bull third.
Until Norris’s surprise pole challenge, George Russell had been the hero of qualifying.
The Williams driver not only got his team back into Q3 for the first time since 2018, but did so using the preferred medium tyres. He went on to qualify ninth.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 3, 2021
Ferrari attempted to get through Q2 on the medium tyres but failed. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc will therefore start only 11th and 12th.
AlphaTauri completed a great day for Red Bull overall as Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda qualified sixth and seventh.
The Aston Martins of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll sandwich Russell in eighth and 10th but Vettel’s grid position is likely to be in jeopardy as the stewards will investigate him after the session for impeding Fernando Alonso at the end of Q2.
Alonso was furious about the incident at the final corner, which left him 14th on the grid.
❌ DRIVERS OUT IN Q2 ❌
Both Ferraris out, and frustration for Alonso who was held up at the end of his flying lap 😖
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 3, 2021
That was especially painful given Alonso had put Alpine third in Q1 and been 0.6s and 14 places clear of struggling team-mate Esteban Ocon, who was eliminated in the first segment for the second week running.
Ocon wasn’t the only driver with continuing qualifying troubles.
Daniel Ricciardo only reached Q2 by 0.032s, having been 0.7s and 13 places off Norris in Q1. He then couldn’t better 13th in Q2, despite giving up on the mediums and trying softs at the end. Norris remained on mediums and was 0.3s faster.
Kimi Raikkonen’s poor qualifying run also continued as he went out in Q1 again. But while he was nine places away from Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi in the first segment, the gap between them was just 0.25s. With Giovinazzi slowest in Q2, they ended up sharing row eight.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||1m04.249s||1m03.927s||1m03.72s|
|3||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull-Honda||1m04.833s||1m04.483s||1m03.99s|
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m04.846s||1m04.493s||1m04.57s|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m04.927s||1m04.547s||1m04.618s|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m04.782s||1m05.083s|
|16||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m05.009s|