Verstappen takes pole from impressive Norris
By Mat Coch
Sunday 4th July, 2021 - 12:12am
Max Verstappen has claimed a pole position from an impressive Lando Norris for Sunday’s Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix.
Verstappen laid down a lap early in Qualifying 3 and was unable to better it later in the session, while Norris came close to stealing it away.
Sergio Perez also snagged third in the closing seconds while Lewis Hamilton could do no better than fourth.
The short lap made for a quiet start to the session, the two Haas drivers the first out on track.
Of the heavy-hitters, it was Verstappen who blinked first as he laid down a 1:04.249s on a set of soft compound tyres.
It was a solid lap, 0.3s clear of Carlos Sainz, while Hamilton banked a 1:04.506s soon after to slot into second.
Pierre Gasly had his first flying lap deleted for track limits, the AlphaTauri sporting the medium compound tyres but running over the back of the kerbing at Turn 9.
Daniel Ricciardo’s first effort netted a 1:05.009s, 0.2s down on Lando Norris’ first effort before a second lap saw the Brit improve to a 1:04.345s, pushing Fernando Alonso out of second fastest.
Ricciardo had another swing, improving marginally to 1:04.977s to move up to ninth.
He was the first of a gaggle of cars within touching distance of one another; Charles Leclerc (1:05.011s), Sebastian Vettel, and Kimi Raikkonen split by 0.017s.
Leclerc had gone faster, though a 1:04.775s lap was deleted for track limits at Turn 9.
With two minutes remaining, all bar the top five headed back out.
Esteban Ocon was the first to set a time, moving out of the drop zone but only up to 13th.
That became 17th by the time the field had completed the laps, the Frenchman joining Nikita Mazepin, Mick Schumacher, Nicholas Latifi, and Kimi Raikkonen in the bottom five.
In 15th, Ricciardo only narrowly escaped the opening segment of qualifying, his 1:04.977s just 0.032s quicker than Raikkonen in 16th.
Meanwhile Norris progressed with the second fastest time, more than 0.6s faster in the other McLaren.
Sergio Perez was the first man on track as Qualifying 2 began, the Mexican having a set of medium compound tyres bolted to his Red Bull.
He recorded a 1:04.554s, improving on his Qualifying 1 effort on the red-walled soft compound rubber.
As Perez returned to the pits, every other car headed out.
At the head of that train, Hamilton recorded a 1:04.501s to briefly go fastest.
Moments later, Verstappen flashed across the line at 1:04.208s to claim provisional pole.
Sebastian Vettel, Norris, and Perez then all posted times faster than Hamilton to push the Mercedes driver down to fifth.
The gap between Verstappen and Norris in second remained nearly 0.3s, the McLaren driver setting an identical time to Perez but ahead courtesy of having posted it first.
Vettel was only 0.01s slower, and Hamilton just 0.008s further back.
Ricciardo recorded a 1:04.912s on a set of medium compound tyres to sit just 14th, faster only than Antonio Giovinazzi.
Neither Ferrari was in the top 10 after their first run, both having attempted to set their opening laps on the medium tyre.
Again, the field headed back out with little more than two minutes remaining, a mixture of soft and medium compound tyres in use.
Sainz and Leclerc sported the mediums, as did Verstappen, Norris, and Hamilton.
Meanwhile Perez, Vettel, Stroll, and Gasly sported soft compound tyres, as did Ricciardo.
Alonso found himself eliminated after being heavily baulked by Vettel at the final corner.
Rubbing salt into the wounds was the fact Vettel didn’t make the flag in time to begin his lap.
Ricciardo did, setting a 1:04.719s to gain one spot over Alonso to sit behind both Ferraris in 13th.
A stunning effort from George Russell saw him bank a 1:04.553s to book himself a place in Qualifying 3.
More impressively was that the Williams driver did so on the medium compound tyres, the Englishman 0.006s ahead of Sainz in 11th.
Following the segment, officials unsurprisingly announced they would investigate the incident between Vettel and Alonso in the dying seconds of the session.
The German had ended the session seventh, using the soft compound tyres to record a 1:04.493s.
Except for Russell, who was having work performed to his front wing in the Williams garage, the field headed out with nine minutes to run in Qualifying 3.
Stroll was the first to set a lap, a 1:05.420s quickly bettered by Vettel’s 1:04.580s.
They were some way off front-running pace, Hamilton logging a 1:04.014s while Norris set a 1:03.958s to claim provisional pole.
His grasp of top spot didn’t last long as Verstappen banged in a 1:03.720s to claim the place.
Bottas was fourth best from Perez after the first runs, 0.5s covering the top five with 0.3s, and Norris, between Verstappen and Hamilton.
Drivers returned to the circuit for their final flying laps with two minutes remaining, including Russell who had not set a time to that point in the session.
Norris was flying as he began his final run, going fastest of anyone through the first split.
He was second on the road behind Verstappen, the Dutchman unable to improve to leave his earlier 1:03.720s his best.
Norris only narrowly missed out, a 1:03.768s leaving him less than half a tenth short of upsetting the Red Bull.
Perez moved up to third with a 1:03.990s while Hamilton could do no better than fourth, one place up from Bottas.
Gasly will line up sixth from Yuki Tsunoda, Vettel, Russell, and Stroll to round out the top 10.
It was Verstappen’s third pole position in a row, and the first time Norris has recorded a front row start in Formula 1.
Further down, the order is likely to change with a penalty for Vettel likely for baulking Alonso in Qualifying 2.
The Austrian Grand Prix gets underway at 23:00 AEST on Sunday.
Results: Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, Qualifying
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:04.249||1:03.927||1:03.720|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||1:04.833||1:04.483||1:03.990|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:04.841||1:04.412||1:04.107|
|7||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:04.967||1:04.518||1:04.273|
|8||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:04.846||1:04.493||1:04.570|
|10||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:04.927||1:04.547||1:04.618|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:04.782||1:05.083|
|16||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:05.009|