Verstappen takes pole as Ricciardo disappoints

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has taken pole position for the Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix in a session that saw Daniel Ricciardo fail to fire.

Ricciardo survived an uncomfortably close call to make Qualifying 2 and will line up 13th in a session that saw team-mate Lando Norris fourth fastest.

On the front row, Verstappen will be joined by Lewis Hamilton despite Valtteri Bottas setting the second fastest time in qualifying.

The Finn was slapped with a three-place penalty after spinning in the pit lane during Free Practice 2, which will drop him down the grid for Sunday’s race.

As qualifying began, the two Alpines ran off sequence, but it was Nicholas Latifi who stunned.

With the opening minutes having progresses as expected with banker laps, the Canadian recorded a 1:05.175s lap.

It was a time good enough for eighth place, putting most everyone behind fourth fastest Lewis Hamilton at risk.

That included Sergio Perez, who was 0.788s away from team-mate Verstappen, who was fastest at the time, with a 1:05.277s.

In the elimination zone, Kimi Raikkonen had an off at Turn 4, running into the gravel but able to rejoin and return to the garage.

All bar the fastest four headed out, Verstappen, Bottas, Norris, and Hamilton remaining in the garage and resulted in saw a log jam of cars form approaching Turn 9, with many coming to a standstill while jockeying for space on track.

Eliminated were Nikita Mazepin, Mick Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Esteban Ocon, and Latifi.

Ricciardo snuck through by the skin of his teeth, the Australian recording a 1:05.142s versus Latifi’s 1:05.175s.

The McLaren driver had been the fastest of anyone to the first split but the lap unravelled from there.

On the medium compound tyres to start Qualifying 2, Bottas recorded a 1:04.724s to kick off the segment before Verstappen went fastest with a 1:04.540s, shortly before Hamilton logged a relatively pedestrian 1:05.386s.

The Mercedes driver’s time was the result of a locked left-front tyre at Turn 3, a mistake which would force a second run and the use of another set of tyres – a point which could prove important come the race.

Pierre Gasly shot to the top with a 1:04.429s on a set of soft compound tyres, while Norris slotted in third also with a set of the red walled tyres.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo found himself only 14th fastest, his 1:05.145s more than seventh tenths off the pace.

Hamilton returned to the circuit with four minutes remaining, the Brit the only car on track, on a set of medium tyres.

He recorded a 1:04.512s, the fifth fastest time of the segment, as the bulk of the remaining field began their final flying laps – aside from Gasly, who remained in the garage.

Unable to improve, Ricciardo duly found himself eliminated seconds after team-mate Norris went fastest (albeit briefly)

Perez ultimately topped the segment while joining Ricciardo on the sidelines were George Russell, Carlos Sainz, Sebastian Vettel, and Antonio Giovinazzi.

Ricciardo’s blushes were somewhat helped by Vettel losing his best lap, the German dropping to 14th and therefore promoting Ricciardo to 13th.

As Qualifying 3 began, Hamilton headed out on track, again enjoying the Red Bull Ring to himself.

He duly delivered a 1:04.205s time, the fastest time the Englishman had managed in the session to that point.

All but Stroll then headed out on circuit, Tsunoda slotting in second fastest with the next timed lap, which became third to Gasly when the Frenchman completed his lap.

Verstappen became the first man into the 1:03 bracket with his provisional pole time, a 1:03.841s.

Norris repeated his Qualifying 2 form to slot in third fastest with a 1:04.244s, just 0.039s slower than Hamilton had managed.

The seven-time champ began a second run with six minutes remaining, shortly after the bulk of the field had completed its first run.

He improved to a 1:04.067s, though still found himself 0.226s away from the ultimate pace.

Running off sequence, Stroll recorded a time that put him eighth fastest on a set of used soft compound tyres when he flashed across the line with just over three minutes remaining in the session.

A poor first split for Hamilton on his final flying lap saw the Mercedes driver a quarter of a second off the pace.

It was a deficit that only compounded further around the lap, culminating in a mistake at the penultimate corner.

Bottas rose to second fastest with his lap, though with a three-place grid penalty to be added to his result he’ll start Sunday’s race from fifth.

Norris slotted in fourth best with Perez fifth and Gasly sixth, the top 10 rounded out by Charles Leclerc, Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso, and Stroll.

Verstappen will therefore be joined on the front row by Hamilton, with Norris and Perez on the second row.

The Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix, the eighth round of the 2021 world championship, gets underway at 23:00 AEST.

Results: Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix, Qualifying

Pos Num Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:04.489 1:04.433 1:03.841
2 77 Valtteri Bottas* Mercedes 1:04.537 1:04.443 1:04.035
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.672 1:04.512 1:04.067
4 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:04.584 1:04.298 1:04.120
5 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:04.638 1:04.197 1:04.168
6 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:04.765 1:04.429 1:04.236
7 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:04.745 1:04.646 1:04.472
8 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:04.608 1:04.631 1:04.514
9 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:04.971 1:04.582 1:04.574
10 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:04.821 1:04.663 1:04.708
11 63 George Russell Williams 1:05.033 1:04.671
12 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:04.859 1:04.800
13 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:05.142 1:04.808
14 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:05.051 1:04.875
15 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:05.092 1:04.913
16 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:05.175
17 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:05.217
18 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:05.429
19 47 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:06.041
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:06.192

* Bottas will take a three-place grid penalty for dangerous driving in Free Practice 2

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