Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took his second Red Bull Ring pole position in a week with a dominant performance in qualifying for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix. However, despite topping every segment of the hour–long session he was push closer in the final top 10 shootout by Lando Norris who claimed the first front-row start of his F1 career just four hundredths of a second behind the championship leader. Sergio Pérez took third place for Red Bull as Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth.
In Q1 Verstappen went out earlier than usual and with his first flying lap he jumped to the top of the order with an opening flying lap of 1:04.249. Hamilton wasn’t far behind the Dutchman on track and when he crossed the line he slotted into second place with a lap of 1:04.506, six hundredths of a second ahead of team-mate Bottas. Pérez, meanwhile, found his way to sixth place with his opening lap of 1:04.833. However, as rivals crossed the line he dropped to eighth place and while Verstappen would stay in the garage for the final runs, Pérez had to go again.
In the end of though, the Mexican didn’t need to the boost of an extra flyer and as McLaren’s Lando Norris finished second behind Verstappen and ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, Pérez backed out of his final flyer as other failed to make significant gains he settled for his opening lap time and P8.
Eliminated at the end of the first segment were Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen in P16 ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
In the second segment Pérez was first out on track, on medium tyres, and the Mexican gave the remaining drivers in the field a target of 1:04.554 to aim at. Verstappen then headed out on mediums and immediately jumped to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:04.208.
Hamilton then took second but was soon eclipsed by McLaren’s Lando Norris and Pérez who went for a second attempt of 1:04.483.
In the final runs, Verstappen went quicker again hold top spot with a lap of 1:03.927, while Hamilton rose again to take P2 over three tenths down on the Red Bull. Bottas took third place ahead of Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris and Pérez settled for P6 thanks to his second run time.
Fernando Alonso though appeared to be blocked by seventh placed Sebastian Vettel and the stewards quickly announced that they would investigate the incident after the session. George Russell did make it through, however, taking Williams into Q3 for the first time this season.
It meant that both Ferraris failed to make it through, with Carlos Sainz being eliminated in P11 ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, Alonso and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.
In the first runs of the top-10 shootout Verstappen once again set blistering pace to open his Q3 account with a lap of 1:03.720. McLaren’s Lando Norris also showed good pace to take P2 just over two tenths of a second behind the Dutchman, with Hamilton in third place almost three tenths off Verstappen. Pérez, though, found himself in P5 after the first runs, a little under two tenths of a second behind Bottas.
The Mexican would need to find good gains in the final runs and when the final runs began he was third in the queue out of the pit lane, behind Norris.
Verstappen was at the head of the pack and though the Red Bull driver tried to find more time on his final run he couldn’t make an improvement. Aided by a tow from the championship leader Norris found more time but the Briton couldn’t quite match Verstappen’s opening time and the Red Bull driver’s opening lap was good enough to claim the team’s 67th pole position.
Pérez also benefited from a tow, this time from Norris, and the Mexican found the pace he needed to leapfrog both Mercedes drivers, taking P3 ahead of Hamilton and Bottas.
Behind the Mercedes drivers Pierre Gasly took sixth for AlphaTauri ahead of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda. Vettel finished eighth but will face investigation, while Russell qualified in P9 ahead of Stroll.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:03.720 7 243.954
2 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:03.768 0.048 7 243.771
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:03.990 0.270 7 242.925
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.014 0.294 6 242.834
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.049 0.329 6 242.701
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:04.107 0.387 6 242.482
7 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:04.273 0.553 6 241.855
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:04.570 0.850 6 240.743
9 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:04.591 0.871 3 240.665
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:04.618 0.898 6 240.564
11 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:04.559 0.632 6 240.784
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:04.600 0.673 6 240.631
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:04.719 0.792 6 240.189
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:04.856 0.929 6 239.681
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:05.083 1.156 6 238.845
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:05.009 0.760 9 239.117
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:05.051 0.802 6 238.963
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:05.195 0.946 6 238.435
19 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:05.427 1.178 9 237.589
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:05.951 1.702 9 235.702