F1 Austrian GP: Verstappen beats Perez to sprint shootout pole
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen beat Sergio Perez and Lando Norris to top Formula 1’s second sprint shootout qualifying, as Ferrari’s Austria form disappeared and Mercedes suffered Q1 and Q2 disasters – one including another Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton clash.
The day starting in raining conditions at the Red Bull Ring and sprint qualifying being declared wet meant the strict slick compound requirements for the compacted session were suspended and drivers could use whatever tyres they wanted throughout.
In the end, other than the Williams completing early Q1 laps on intermediates, the drivers ran slicks throughout.
Verstappen made full use of the new softs he had saved progressing smoothly in Friday qualifying to lead the way on the first runs in Q3 with a 1m04.613s ahead of Norris and Perez, with Carlos Sainz fourth and at that stage running new mediums because of his lack of new softs.
Several drivers switched compounds for the final Q3 runs, where Charles Leclerc led the charge having not headed out immediately in Q3 to save his single set of new softs.
But these were not enough to make an impression on the leaders, as he could not replicate his Friday evening near pole-clinching pace and at that stage could not even beat his team-mate’s time on the harder rubber.
Verstappen then again blitzed to the quickest time in all three sectors claim pole for the sprint race, going quicker by 0.173s to post a 1m04.440s.
Perez slotted into second while Norris was shuffled down to third and Nico Hulkenberg brilliantly shot into fourth despite running the mediums at the end.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Sainz switched to new softs for his second Q3 go and although he improved could only manage fifth, with Leclerc completing a second run on the same set of softs that was a personal best but only quick enough for sixth.
In Q2, which Verstappen topped, Leclerc faced a late battle to progress while just running used softs as he ran 11th ahead of the final times, but he did enough to progress – unlike Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries.
Like Leclerc, Gasly and Tsunoda produced their best at the death, but could not climb into the top 10.
Tsunoda lost an earlier time that was even faster to a track limits violation, but it was not quick enough to get into Q3 ahead of Hulkenberg in any case.
George Russell was also eliminated at his stage as he suffered a hydraulic failure at the end of Q1 and, despite Mercedes mechanics being spotted working on his car during the middle segment, he did not take to the track.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
In Q1, both the Ferrari drivers had contrasting fortunes as Sainz spent most of the shortened 12-minute segment in the pits as his team had to solve a brake-by-wire problem on the rear of his car that left him with only the mechanical system working and so the rear brakes heated up and began smoking.
Sainz emerged with 1m40s remaining on the clock and then brilliantly blasted to the top of the pile in the opening segment.
Leclerc was able to circulate and made a late change trip to the pits, after which he struggled to build tyre temperature compared to those that stayed out.
He improved on his last effort enough to jump clear of the drop zone but as the flurry of final improvements came in, he was shuffled back down the order and only progressed by 0.001s – quicker by a fraction ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.
Zhou had spun early in Q1 clipping the still wet inside kerbs at Turn 9 and was eventually eliminated ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, who will go to see the stewards now sprint qualifying as ended as he appeared to be impeded by Leclerc at Turn 9 as the Ferrari made its late dive into the pits.
Hamilton was Q1’s major casualty as he ran too wide at the exit of Turn 10 and lost a time that would have got in through amongst the leading times in the opening segment.
He then found himself in traffic and in a bizarre clash with Verstappen running down the pit straight and the Briton could not get a final effort in, leaving him stranded in 18th.
Hamilton had been informed of his track limits violation and had time to run again, but after he had prepared for a final flier going slowly through the last few turns Verstappen came upon him completing a flying lap and then ran moved alongside and ahead as they went down the pit straight.
The pair slowed exiting Turn 1 with Verstappen gesticulating angrily at Hamilton, while also eliminated in Q1 were Valtteri Bottas and Logan Sargeant.
Hulkenberg is also facing a post-sprint qualifying investigation after he appeared to run over the front right tyre that had just been removed from his Haas late in Q2.
His VF-23 was sent bouncing up into the air and hit part of his team’s pit gantry as it did so before quickly coming back down and the German heading on out of the pits.
F1 Austrian GP sprint shootout results
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||Red Bull||1'04.440|
|2||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||Red Bull||1'04.933||0.493||0.493|
|7||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||Mercedes||1'05.258||0.818||0.013|
|8||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||Mercedes||1'05.347||0.907||0.089|
|View full results|
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