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Qualifying report
Formula 1 Austrian GP

F1 Austrian GP: Verstappen sees off Leclerc for pole by 0.048s

Max Verstappen pipped Charles Leclerc to take pole position for Formula 1’s 2023 Austrian Grand Prix by just 0.048s, with Sergio Perez missing Q3 for a fourth successive race.

Pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, celebrates on arrival in Parc Ferme

Under cloudy skies and in stronger winds compared to Friday’s earlier practice session, the drivers found themselves incurring multiple track limits penalties – particularly in Q2.

Verstappen led the way in all three segments and after the first runs in Q3, where Leclerc trailed by 0.206s behind the world champion for Ferrari.

On the second and final Q3 goes, Verstappen led the pack around and shot to purple sectors in the first and third sectors, which improved the quickest time to a 1m04.391s.

Behind, Leclerc improved to edge out team-mate Carlos Sainz, setting the fastest time in the middle sector as he pushed Verstappen hard for pole.

Leclerc threw caution to the wind in the final turns on his last Q3 lap, going very close to the track limits through the double right-hander and as he did so his left rear stepped out a touch, to see Verstappen’s GP pole secured by less than half a tenth.

Lando Norris trailed Sainz in the only updated McLaren, with Lewis Hamilton fifth in the lead Mercedes.

Then came Lance Stroll, who headed team-mate Fernando Alonso in qualifying for only the second time this season – despite having to recover from losing his opening Q3 run to a track limits violation at the final corner.

Nico Hulkenberg took eighth for Haas ahead of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon, who lost his best time in Q3 – and off-set second lap run before the other nine drivers put their final laps in – but in any case it would not have been enough to get him any higher on the grid.

In Q2, the track limits issue really began to heat up as both Red Bull drivers lost their opening times for running too wide out of the final corner.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

While Verstappen was able to go through with his second effort, Perez lost his second attempt – this time for being too wide on the approach to the last corner, running wide out of the penultimate corner.

He then jumped to second ahead of the flurry of final times in the middle segment but again was dropped back for running too wide out of Turn 10.

That left him without a representative lap time and out in 15th, where he was joined in being knocked out by George Russell, Esteban Ocon, Oscar Piastri and Valtteri Bottas.

Russell’s personal best came ahead of the final fliers but he was shuffled back, while Ocon appeared to have secured progression, before he too lost his time for going too wide in the final corner on his last lap.

Bottas also lost a lap that would have had him ahead of Piastri for the same infraction as Perez and Ocon.

Q1 was interrupted with one-third of the 18 minutes completed, when Bottas lost the rear of his car following the slow-moving Perez through the first corner.

When Bottas’s left-rear corner touched the big yellow sausage kerb on the exit of the uphill right-hander, the Alfa Romeo speared right and spun off backwards, coming to rest with its right-front wheel remaining on the track and the rest on the grass.

As Bottas initially struggled to find neutral and then get going again, the session was red-flagged for six minutes – during which time he was able to turn around and head back to the pits.

When the action resumed in the opening segment, Bottas’s last-gasp improvement knocked out Yuki Tsunoda in 16th.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Zhou Guanyu then set a personal best in the other Alfa but it was not enough to save him from being eliminated in 17th, with the same true for Williams driver Logan Sargeant, who rued leaving too much margin to the heavily-policed final corner on his last lap.

Kevin Magnussen was knocked out in 19th complaining about a downshifts problem at Turn 3, with Nyck de Vries finishing last in the other AlphaTauri – another driver to set a personal best with their final Q1 lap.

F1 Austrian GP - Qualifying results

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull 1'04.391  
2 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 1'04.439 0.048
3 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 1'04.581 0.190
4 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1'04.658 0.267
5 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 1'04.819 0.428
6 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1'04.893 0.502
7 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 1'04.911 0.520
8 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 1'05.090 0.699
9 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 1'05.170 0.779
10 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 1'05.823 1.432
11 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 1'05.428 1.037
12 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1'05.453 1.062
13 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 1'05.605 1.214
14 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'05.680 1.289
15 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 2'06.688 1'02.297
16 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'05.784 1.393
17 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'05.818 1.427
18 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 1'05.948 1.557
19 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1'05.971 1.580
20 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'05.974 1.583

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