By Robert Haile
The first of two qualifying sessions at the Red Bull Ring finished with Red Bull leading the pack at their home Grand Prix today, June 26, as Max Verstappen was fastest around the track.
Verstappen got the job done with his first flying lap of the top ten shootout and then went one better with his second to secure pole position with a 1:03.841 ahead of the Mercedes challenge.
Leader of the Drivers Championship Verstappen said: “It is of course a great result to take the Team’s first pole position at our home track and I feel very good about that. We made a big step forward in qualifying this year and although the car has been competitive and pretty easy to set-up all weekend we still made some good changes for qualifying.
“From my side, the first lap in Q3 (Qualifying 3) felt pretty good. Around here you don’t have many corners but it is actually quite hard to nail the lap because of the braking up to Turn 3 and 4 where it is easy to lose a tenth if you make a tiny mistake. When I started driving in F1 this was always one of the tracks that I felt good at and as there aren’t many corners the driver can make a big difference, which I like.
“Some tracks are pretty straight forward on how you take corners but here there are a few options for that which makes it more enjoyable. I expect it will be super tight again tomorrow. We know Mercedes have a strong race car and they are pretty good on the tyres so it will be very close, which I think is also good for the fans and the way everyone likes it.”
After his outburst during the French Grand Prix Valtteri Bottas was set to lead the charge after going second fastest but after a spin in the pit lane during free practice two brought about a three place penalty for dangerous driving he will be hoping fifth place is good enough to get back on the podium.
Bottas said: “Today was about maximising the situation, trying to forget the penalty and just be perfect in everything you do. I think it was a good qualifying session, we worked well as a team together to find
a good set-up and the changes we made gave me a better feeling in the car than I had in Practice. The lap was good, I don’t think there was another two-tenths to find with our package today so I think we
maximised what we could.
“The Medium should be the better race tyre for our car, even though the Soft runners around me will have a small advantage at the start. The key will be to get past them quickly tomorrow – obviously I’d
rather start second than fifth but it is what it is, I need to deal with the consequences. It will be close with Red Bull, so far this season they’ve had the edge in qualifying and it’s been tight in the races so
we’re looking forward to it.”
So starting from second will be Lewis Hamilton, who last time out took the lead from second, will be looking for a repeat of the start maybe not the finish.
Defending seven time Champion Hamilton said: “Firstly, well done to Max – they have been so fast this weekend and they’ve had two tenths on us through every session. I have been giving it absolutely everything but it just wasn’t the greatest of qualifying sessions for me today. Nevertheless, it’s still the front row after the penalty and we live to fight another day – we’re there with the Red Bulls at the start so let’s see what we can do, it makes for an exciting race.
“I’m proud of everyone’s hard work, and for continuing to push, we’re still in the fight and we’ve done a good job given the circumstances. I’m going try and enjoy my evening, gather my thoughts and come back strong tomorrow.”
In fourth is Lando Norris for McLaren with Sergio Perez for Red Bull in fifth and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly sixth.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was seventh with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda eighth former Champion Fernando Alonso came ninth for Alpine as Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten.
In the first qualifying session Esteben Ocon for Alpine was the surprise driver that didn’t progress to the next session as Nicholas Latifi for Williams, Alfa Romeo Kimi Räikkönen and both Haas driver Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin all failed to progress.
The second qualifying session had two of the teams fighting for third lose drivers as Daniel Ricciardo for Mclaren and Carlos Sainz for Ferrari missed out as George Russell for Williams almost made it through in eleventh with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa Romeo also going out.
Pole Position – Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 1:03.841
Q3 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) Three Place Penalty, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Lando Norris (Mclaren), Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Fernando Alonso (Alpine), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
Q2 – George Russell (Williams), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Daniel Ricciardo (Mclaren), Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
Q1 – Nicholas Latifi (Williams), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo), Mick Schumacher (Haas), Nikita Mazepin (Haas)