Max Verstappen claimed pole for the sprint race of the Austrian Grand Prix as qualifying on Friday proved to be a double disaster for Mercedes. Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell crashed in the top-10 shootout at the Spielberg circuit, owned by Verstappen’s Red Bull team. The world champion will be joined in the front row of Saturday’s 100 km sprint by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari. In the second row are team-mate Carlos Sainz, fresh from his first win at Silverstone last weekend, and Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull. Hamilton made a rare mistake to hit the barrier on a fast lap with five and a half minutes left of Q3 at turn seven.
He was soon out of his car and headed back to the pits.
After a red flag period when his crushed Mercedes was lifted off the track, the session resumed.
But not for long, as Russell then left the podium on the left, at Turn 10, to leave Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff staring gloomily at his TV monitor.
With eight cars left to battle for pole, Verstappen took the honors with a time of 1 minute and 05.852 seconds.
“It was a very long wait between the two runs and that is never nice. Once you’re in the rhythm, it’s nice to just keep going,” said Verstappen.
“But of course very happy with pole, but I also know that you can take the points tomorrow and Sunday,” he added.
Verstappen has a fantastic track record, winning four of the last six, including both on the picturesque circuit in the Styrian mountains in 2021.
Saturday’s sprint will determine the starting grid for Sunday’s race, the 11th round of the world championship in which Verstappen is 34 points ahead of Perez.
Russell had done enough before leaving to set fifth with Esteban Ocon (Alpine) in sixth, ahead of Kevin Magnussen and fellow Haas driver Mick Schumacher in seventh and eighth, Fernando Alonso and Hamilton rounding out the top 10 .
(This story was not edited by The AU Times staff and was generated automatically Platforms.)
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