Photo: Red Bull Media House

F1 Austrian GP Qualifying: Verstappen narrowly beats Leclerc to Pole Position

It’s pole position for Max Verstappen as he showed off his continued dominance around the Red Bull ring.

Completing the top three ahead of Sunday’s grand prix are the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and his fellow Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz.

It is a sprint weekend out in Austria, and as a reminder the qualifying today sets the grid ahead of Sunday’s grand prix.

The Saturday consists of the sprint shootout and sprint race where the drivers battle it out to gain some extra points throughout the weekend.

The reigning World Champion Max Verstappen was the first driver to take to the grid in the qualifying as he raced on his team’s home track.

Track limits seemed to of been an issue facing all the drivers as they took to the Austria track with many drivers facing lap times being deleted.

The Alfa Romeo of Valterri Bottas brought out a yellow flag, which then brought out a red one as he struggled to get the car back into neutral and saw his car facing the wrong way around in turn one.

Bottas did get his car back underway and managed to return it to the pits allowing him to continue with qualifying.

A noticeable moment of the red flag was during the five minutes of the track being red many drivers had their times deleted which rearranged the whole standings.

The drivers lost from Q1 were Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sergeant, Kevin Magnussen and Nyck De Vries

This means De Vries will start at the back of the grid on Sunday but still has a chance in tomorrow’s sprint race to show some pace.

As Q2 got underway once again Verstappen led the pack onto the track and was quick to show off how comfortable he was feeling around the track.

However, that opening lap time for Verstappen was deleted as he breached track limits.

Alex Albon continued to show the straight-line speed of the Williams as he set a purple first sector.

With five minutes to go both Mercedes were in danger as both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell found themselves in the elimination zone.

After being ill yesterday Perez was back in the car for qualifying but his qualifying was brought to a quick end when the clock had three minutes left Perez in 15th after his time was deleted for track limits.

Putting his car in P2 for a matter of moments Perez didn’t stay there for long following another deleted time for track limits.

With Perez in P15, it was Bottas, Oscar Piastri, Esteban Ocon and the Mercedes of George Russell who joined him in the elimination from Q2.

It was a disappointing session for many drivers in Q2 but the action continued as we headed into the top 10 shootout.

Another Q3 appearance for Albon as he was the first car out on the track for the final qualifying session of the day.

The upgraded McLaren of Lando Norris was showing improvement from previous weekends with his car sat in P4 with the clock showing five minutes remaining, he managed to claim that P4 position as the chequered flag dropped.

Albon has a moment of having the whole track to himself whilst the other cars sat in the grid before those final couple of minutes to push the cars to the extreme.

Having that clear run allowed Albon to put his car in P6 but it was a moment of short excitement as his run was deleted for track limits.

With one minute remaining all of the cars apart from the Williams of Alex Albon took to the grid to try and improve their times.

An intense final shootout it seems improvements and passion were clearly on show and it was a nail-biting few moments but Verstappen clenched onto that pole with Leclerc coming in just short in second.

Behind the front two are former teammates Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris who line up on the second row.

The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton claims fifth place with Stroll lining up next to him in P6 noticeably ahead of his teammate Fernando Alonso who qualified in P7.

Nico Hulkenberg took P8 with Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon completing the final row of the top 10.

With the grid set for Sunday’s race the drivers have it all to play for again tomorrow with the sprint shootout and sprint which gives the drivers a crucial opportunity to gain some points.

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