F1: Verstappen nips Norris for pole for Austrian GP

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen nipped McLaren’s Lando Norris for pole for the Austrian GP by just 0.048s – his third straight pole.

It was a sensational qualifying session that saw Verstappen turn a lap of 1m03.720s, and for Lando Norris it was his first front-row start.

Red Bull was happy that Sergio Perez qualified 3rd to beat the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, and Valtteri Bottas who rounded out the top-5. Perez gives Red Bull some buffer to Verstappen’s nearest challenger – Lewis Hamilton.

“Of course to be twice on pole here is very good, hopefully we can finish it off tomorrow. Softer compounds, it will be tough to manage those in the race, it’s never straightforward, so we’ll see,” said Verstappen.

“I feel epic! Yeah it was cool. Yeah, it’s nice. Probably one of my best laps I’ve done I think,” said a happy Norris.

2nd quick #4 Lando Norris; McLaren Mercedes. Formula 1 World championship 2021, Austrian GP 1-4 July 2021

“It’s been a hard weekend, we’ve been chasing a lot the balance,” said Perez.

“We’ve been chipping away every single run, it didn’t come easy. I believe tomorrow we have a better race car than quali.”

Pierre Gasly was sixth again, just like last week, ahead of rookie AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Sebastian Vettel, George Russell, and Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10.

3rd quick #11 Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, Honda. Formula 1 World championship 2021, Austrian GP 1-4 July 2021

Select Quotes

Max Verstappen
“Q1 and Q2 were very good and comfortable, but I was not entirely happy in Q3 as my laps weren’t amazing. I’m of course happy to be on pole, especially at the Red Bull Ring again, and having three poles in a row is great for the Team. But I cannot be entirely happy as I always want to be perfect, and I always want to analyze what went well and what went wrong. Maybe that is how I grew up, but I also believe that is how you keep improving. Now I’m just looking forward to tomorrow as we have a good race car and of course with Checo being third as well it is great for the Team and hopefully we can push together and score a lot of points. It was also an amazing lap by Lando, and they have been quite close this weekend, but I don’t expect them to be our main rivals in the race tomorrow. I’m very pleased with the whole package, the car and engine together have been working so well over the last few races, so we have good confidence for tomorrow but for sure it’s never easy, and its softer compounds compared to last week so it will be tough to manage those in the race, and we still have strong competition. It was also amazing to see the orange army back in the grandstands. It has been a long time, and they are so happy to be here cheering us on which I love to see.”

#33 Max Verstappen RedBull Racing Honda. Formula 1 World championship 2021, Austrian GP 1-4 July 2021

Sergio Perez
“I’m happy, it’s a very good result for the Team here at our home track in Austria. Max and I are in a good starting position, and hopefully we can get a good start off the line tomorrow, that will be critical. Overall, it’s been a really hard weekend up until now, we’ve been chasing a lot of balance, exploring the car in all areas and just chipping away at it in every single run. I’m starting on the mediums, but it’s going to be a race where one or two pit stops is unknown, no one has had enough of a long run yet so it’s hard to tell. In the end we got a good lap today, and it didn’t come easy, anything can happen tomorrow and I believe we have a better race car than quali, so I hope that we can bring home some solid points for the Team. Congratulations to Lando too, he did a very strong lap today.”

#11 Sergio Perez, RedBull Racing, Honda. Formula 1 World championship 2021, Austrian GP 1-4 July 2021

Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal
“Today was a great Team performance. It’s our first triple pole since 2013 and Max’s first, plus it’s great to have Checo up there in P3 giving us a great chance with both cars tomorrow. Max is always looking for that little bit extra, and he was frustrated as he felt there was more in the car in Q3. He had a slight lock-up on the first run, so we wanted to give him clean air for the second which meant he ended up at the front of the queue, creating a hole in the air that gave Lando behind him a slight tow making the margin very small, but nonetheless a phenomenal performance once again from him. It was clear that we wanted to get both cars through on the medium tire which is what we achieved, so let’s see what the weather brings tomorrow with the colder temperatures and threat of rain. The tires are also a step softer, so there will be a lot of discussion tonight around whether the race is a one or two stop. You forget the atmosphere the fans bring, it seems so long since we’ve had them at the track. Max has got such a large, loyal following, and you could hear the noise when he got pole no matter where you were on the circuit. It’s great for Formula One to see the fans back, so let’s hope we can deliver a great result for them tomorrow.”

Lewis Hamilton
This weekend is more of a challenge than it was already last week, and we continue to lack pace. We tried everything to get more out of the car, but the underlying pace just isn’t good enough at the moment, so we’ve got to really find performance in the following races. I don’t know if McLaren brought an upgrade, but they were mega quick today, so great job from Lando. We’ve just got to try and improve, we’ve still got a long way to go. In the heat today, Red Bull seemed to step forwards, and we stepped backwards so let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Valtteri Bottas
I was hoping to fight for the pole, but today it was out of reach. It seemed like we went a little bit backwards from last weekend or others gained more than us. I would say we’re missing maybe a tenth or two from where we should have been and clearly McLaren has found something with the C5 compound this weekend, it seems to work well with their car.

I think race pace wise we should be in better shape – all the developing we’ve done with the car setup is aiming a bit more towards the race pace so we need to learn from today and then I’m sure we can get a good result for the team tomorrow. I’m still expecting a big fight with Red Bull in the race.

Toto Wolff
What started as a good day in FP3 we couldn’t translate into a good qualifying session. The gaps here are very small and our performance in qualifying wasn’t great, and that showed in the final result. We need to analyze whether a slip-stream could have helped us but overall, we just need to continue to develop the performance of the car. Hopefully, tomorrow we will be in better shape for the race, and we need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.

Andrew Shovlin
We obviously hoped for much better than 4th and 5th, but we’ve been struggling a bit all day and with such a short lap and small gaps, you pay the price when you don’t get things right. The hotter track today doesn’t seem to suit us and we need to question whether we were getting the soft tire in the right window. Most cars in the final session were able to find a tenth or two, but we didn’t really pick anything up and slipped further down as a result. So, lots to work on, but now we need to focus on making the most of the opportunities tomorrow. We at least managed to get both cars onto the medium tire for the start and hopefully, we can show good race pace and get ourselves back into the fight at the front.

Sebastian Vettel
“We can certainly aim for points tomorrow, and I am happy with our approach to start on the Soft tires. They will not last as long as the Mediums or Hards, but it will be a fast tire so let’s wait, and see what we can do tomorrow. We made some small improvements across all the sessions, and the car has been better balanced today. We have been competitive all weekend, and it is the first time this year that both cars have been in Q3. If we can run in some clean air tomorrow, we will be able to show some decent race pace. It is a shame that Fernando [Alonso] had his lap impacted during Q2. All the drivers agreed yesterday to slow down on the straights between Turns Eight, and Nine, which I did, but other drivers jumped the queue, then slowed down in the final corners, which is not allowed. That backed me up as well. It is a strange situation, and something that is really difficult to avoid. I am sorry for Fernando because there is nothing he could have done.”

Sebastian Vettel

Lance Stroll
“We can be happy with qualifying today because starting inside the top 10 gives us a good shot at points tomorrow. In hindsight, I think we could potentially have started a little bit higher up. The car felt good in Q2, and the laps came together nicely, but it was a little bit more tricky to put clean laps together during Q3. We could see today that teams were considering both the Soft, and Medium tires in qualifying, so the compounds could be quite close to each other. That is something for us to go away, and think about for tomorrow because strategy could be more important with the softer tire compounds this time out. We will go do our homework, and come back tomorrow to fight for points.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Aston Martin CEO & Team Principal
“Today, at the Red Bull Ring, in the ninth qualifying session of this year’s World Championship, we were delighted to see both our drivers get into Q3 – for the first time this season. In so doing, Sebastian, and Lance out-qualified both Ferraris – a pretty satisfying performance, and one that very clearly shows the progress we are making. Sebastian was called to the stewards after the session, alleged to have impeded [Fernando] Alonso, but, whatever the outcome of that inquiry, we have shown that we have strong pace, and we are therefore in good shape to score points with both cars tomorrow.”

Pierre Gasly
“It feels like every weekend we’re Qualifying in a similar position, and I’m really happy with that, sixth is another strong performance for us, so today is a good day. I haven’t been as comfortable in the car this weekend for some reason, so going into Quali we had a bit of an unknown, which is why I’m really pleased we managed to make it work this afternoon. We’re the first cars starting on Softs tomorrow, so strategy will definitely be key in the race. We’ve shown that the car has the pace though, so I’m feeling confident.”

#10 Pierre Gasly Alpha Tauri Honda. Formula 1 World championship 2021, Austrian GP 1-4 July 2021

Yuki Tsunoda
“I’m really happy with today’s performance, it’s my best Qualifying so far. I want to say a big thank you to the team, who have maintained the pace from last week, and managed to put it all together when it counted the most. My final lap was pretty good, even though I didn’t get a slip stream, so I’ve got to be pleased with that. It’s been really helpful for my learning to be here in Austria for two races in a row, it’s allowed me to build up my confidence, and I think that shows in my performance today. Tomorrow is key, I don’t know what the conditions will be like during the race, but tire management will be crucial to scoring points, which is what I’m aiming for.”

Dave Robson, Williams Head of Vehicle Performance
We thought that bettering our qualifying result of last week might be difficult, especially given how tricky it can be on this short track. However, George – aided by the entire team – produced an excellent performance to not only make it to Q3, but to do so on the Medium tire. There is still a long way to go this weekend, but we can afford a moment of contentment before we move on to the serious business of the race tomorrow.

Having looked at some different set-up directions yesterday, Nicholas settled on a good compromise for today, and, but for some traffic, was looking strong in FP3. He completed an aggressive strategy in Q1, and his first run was strong. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite track the pace progression that George found, and when the gaps are so small, those fine margins are crucial. He starts the race from 18th place, but is in a good position to attack the cars ahead.

George Russell
Qualifying was pretty special; we usually do well on Saturdays, but that was on another level. I had a lot of confidence in the car, which really helped when it came to nailing my Q3 lap with only one shot. P9 in any circumstances is a great place to be, but starting on the mediums with a few cars ahead on the soft tires puts us in a strong position for the race, and hopefully gives us a real advantage when it comes to making strategy decisions. I’m really pleased for the whole team; we’ve managed to keep the momentum going, and this is thoroughly deserved after the struggles of last Sunday. I’m very excited for tomorrow.

Nicholas Latifi
It was a different challenge this weekend for everybody with softer tires, but I am struggling to get the balance right this weekend, and the car dialed in. The first run wasn’t so bad, but the second run I made a mistake in the hairpin of turn three, and missed the corner. I got it wrong this time, and lost so much time as a result, so obviously very frustrated.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN
“Given how strong we looked in the practice sessions so far this weekend, to line up in 15th and 16th is well short of what we were expecting: when margins are so small, however, this is what happens when we can’t extract 100% from what we have. Our focus is completely on tomorrow’s race now: we know we can be really competitive in the race, especially with what we have shown last week, so we will try to make up as much ground as we can in the early stages and then make our pace work for us. We came within touching distance of the points last week, and we can go better this time around.”

Kimi Räikkönen
“I had a good feeling and the car felt quite good in the first run, but when it came to the second set, I just had no front end in the first two corners. I don’t know what caused it as our lap preparation had been as good as always, but I ended up a couple of tenths down after the first corners and that was my lap pretty much done. I managed to catch up a little in the rest of the lap, but the damage was done. We had a good recovery in the race here last week, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Antonio Giovinazzi
“After such a strong weekend so far, to be 15th is disappointing. I really struggled at the beginning of our push laps, so we need to understand better what happened. We feel we had the pace to go to Q3, but we couldn’t put it together. We’ll see what we can get out of the race, our long run pace was good and we were strong last week on the compounds we will use tomorrow, so we can fight our way to the top ten.”

Qualifying Results

1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:04.249 1:03.927 1:03.720 15
2 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1:04.345 1:04.415 1:03.768 18
3 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda 1:04.833 1:04.483 1:03.990 23
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.506 1:04.258 1:04.014 18
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.563 1:04.376 1:04.049 19
6 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 1:04.841 1:04.412 1:04.107 21
7 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 1:04.967 1:04.518 1:04.273 21
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes 1:04.846 1:04.493 1:04.570 20
9 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:04.907 1:04.553 1:04.591 15
10 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1:04.927 1:04.547 1:04.618 21
11 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:04.596 1:04.559 15
12 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:04.906 1:04.600 15
13 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 1:04.977 1:04.719 15
14 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 1:04.472 1:04.856 9
15 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:04.782 1:05.083 15
16 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:05.009 9
17 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:05.051 6
18 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:05.195 6
19 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 1:05.427 9
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari 1:05.951 9