QUALIFICATIONS: Verstappen push back Mercedes duo to clinch pole at Styrian Grand Prix for Red Bull
Max Verstappen gave Red Bull a perfect start to the first of two home races by completing a scintillating lap to push back Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to snatch pole position at the Styrian Grand Prix – their second in a row.
The Red Bull Ring has been a happy hunting ground for Verstappen in years past, with the two-time winner looking to have his RB16B beautifully hooked up early in qualifying, making good progress as the hour-long session is built in crescendo. .
Championship leader Verstappen established provisional pole with his first run and his second lap was also good enough to take first place as the Mercedes challenge failed. Bottas took second place ahead of Hamilton, a very neat lap to death, but he will return to fifth after a three-place penalty for “dangerous driving” when he spun into the lane. stands during testing.
This promotes Hamilton to second place, having crossed the finish line in third position, with the Mercedes driver opting to make three runs in Q3 after saving a set of soft tires from the opening segment.
Red bull racing
Red bull racing
The seven-time champion’s first round was a good banker, and although he improved in his second round, he was still a quarter of a second off pace. The reigning world champion then appeared to take the wrong lap on his third try which potentially took too much of his tires and he failed to improve as he slipped wide late in his last run .
McLaren’s Lando Norris finished fourth – who will become third for the second time on this track, following Bottas’ penalty – ahead of second Red Bull from Sergio Perez.
Pierre Gasly has shown a steady pace throughout – and was the fastest of all in Q2 – qualifying sixth for AlphaTauri, his sixth top-six start in eight Grand Prix weekends. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was seventh, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda who made his second Q3 appearance in the last three Grands Prix but is under investigation for an alleged block by Bottas.
Fernando Alonso was the sole representative of Alpine in Q3, after his teammate Esteban Ocon was eliminated in the first part of the session, with the Spaniard ninth while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll edged his teammate Sebastian Vettel for the first time in four races to close the Top 10.
Q1 – Ocon makes a shock exit as Verstappen and Hamilton pass smoothly
Hot, dry conditions greeted the drivers as qualifying began at the Red Bull Ring, carved into the Styrian hill. Players like Verstappen and Hamilton comfortably set laps good enough to progress, the latter using only one set of soft tires.
As time passed, Antonio Giovinazzi and Sebastian Vettel found themselves in the drop zone, with Perez about to set off – but the three made their final laps together to get to safety.
Ocon couldn’t follow suit, however, the Alpine rider failed to keep his pace among the top three in FP2 as he took an early swim, meaning he failed to reach Q3 in any of the last four Grands Prix.
He will start the race 17th, one place behind Nicholas Latifi – who missed Q2 by only tenth of a second. Kimi Raikkonen from Alfa – who took an off-road excursion in the gravel – and the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin completed the standings.
KO: Latifi, Ocon, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Mazepin
2021 Styrian GP qualifying: Russell reacts after missing Q1 by 0.008 seconds
Q2 – Sainz, Vettel and Ricciardo eliminated
Hamilton and Bottas headed for the medium tires, as did Verstappen, the trio wanting to start the race with the most durable tire, while the others felt they didn’t have enough pace and therefore opted for the tender compound.
Hamilton and Bottas were pretty scruffy on their first runs, so they had to go back – but they stayed in the midrange. And their second runs were enough to qualify them for the top 10 shots on goal.
Further behind, Carlos Sainz and Vettel put in a lot of work after cutting laps for track limits, and ultimately could not recover, leaving them 12th and 14th respectively on the grid. This is the second time this season that Sainz has come out of qualifying in Q2.
Daniel Ricciardo appeared to have progressed with his McLaren on Friday finishing second in FP2, but he watched everything at sea on Saturday morning – and failed to better master the MCL35M in qualifying.
The Australian finished 13th, Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo 15th. George Russell arrived 0.008 seconds into Q3, but will field a solid 11th – with a free choice of tires – to match the position he qualified in the wet at the Red Bull Ring last year.
Knocked Out: Russell, Sainz, Ricciardo, Vettel, Giovinazzi
2021 Styrian GP qualifying: Alonso happy after a “nice” hot lap at the Red Bull Ring
Q3 – Verstappen overtakes Hamilton for pole
Hamilton came out early in Q3 with the reigning world champion taking over the track as he was the only one in the top 10 with enough soft tires to make three runs.
His starting time of 1m04.205s was faster than he had managed the entire session, but not the fastest time in qualifying. He dived back into the pits as everyone exited, with Verstappen setting a very good benchmark four-tenths ahead of Hamilton with his first flying effort.
Hamilton’s second lap was better, but it was still a quarter of a second away as the final runs approached. The Briton attacked his lap in an unusual way, to get to the front of the queue, but established a first sector 0.25 seconds behind Verstappen, putting an end to his hopes of taking pole.
His teammate Bottas improved, however, and finished second, demoting Hamilton to third place in the session, but the Briton would regain the place once Bottas’s three-place penalty applied on the grid.
The key quote
“It has been a very good weekend,” said poleman Verstappen. âOnce again in qualifying, the car was really fun to drive. It was not easy to manage the traffic in the last corners to get a clean run, but I think the first lap in Q3 was pretty good in the end. And of course super happy to be on pole here at home. It’s always nice to see a Red Bull car first here.
The Styrian Grand Prix starts at 3:00 p.m. local time, i.e. 1:00 p.m. UTC. For the second race in a row, title rivals Verstappen and Hamilton line up side by side on the front row. Can the Dutchman resist the Silver Arrows to claim his third victory in four races?
2021 Styrian GP qualifying: Verstappen in pole position at Red Bull Ring