STYRIAN GP – Max Verstappen takes pole beating Valtteri Bottas by two tenths with Sir Lewis Hamilton third

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen has beaten Valtteri Bottas by almost two-tenths of the second to take pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix. The Dutchman was able to edge out the Mercedes after looking quick all weekend as he looks to build his lead ahead of Sir Lewis Hamilton in third.

Red Bull are looking to build their advantage ahead of Mercedes in the drivers and constructors, Hamilton said he believes that Red Bull has a quarter of a second advantage going into the race. Mercedes is currently on their longest run without a win in the hybrid era.

Hamilton made a mistake on his final run in Q3 when he suffered oversteer on his fastest lap through the final corner, ran over the kerb following leading to him exceeding track limits. The seven-time champions lap was over two seconds slower than his best lap.

It looks to be a close battle going into Q3, but Verstappen appeared to find enough to beat Hamilton. However, the Dutchman didn’t manage to improve on his final run in Q3, although he set a second lap that would have been good enough for pole. Red Bull appeared to have control of the session from the start taking three consecutive pole positions.

Bottas starts fifth because of a three-place grid penalty for sliding in the pit lane during practice. That promotes McLaren’s Lando Norris to third, the Englishman was just under half a hundredth behind Hamilton taking third.

Hamilton said, “I’ve been giving it absolutely everything, not the greatest of second [runs], but nonetheless it’s still on the front row after the penalty. We go into the race tomorrow for a fight.”

Verstappen agreed with Hamilton adding, “I’m sure again it will be very tight. Hopefully as interesting as in France. It wasn’t the greatest of sessions but still on the front row after the penalty. I did everything I could and we go into the race tomorrow for a fight.”

Mercedes appeared to be up for the challenge of going for pole position by doing three soft tyre runs in Q3. Hamilton’s first attempt was two tenths off, on this last attempt the Englishman ran wide when Bottas went faster pushing him to third, though the Finn’s penalty means he starts second.

Last year, Norris put in a strong fortnight in Spielberg and has had his best start to the season of his career, he was just five-thousandths of a second slower than Hamilton. The session proved to be tight with the top six cars covered by under four-tenths of a second, Sergio Perez was fifth fastest going just over seven hundredths ahead of the sister car of Pierre Gasly.

Ferrari was expecting to struggle to be at the pointy end at the high speed and downforce circuit, Charles Leclerc being the only Ferrari-powered car in Q3. The Monacan was six tenths off the pace and split the two Alpha Tari’s after going seven hundredths faster than Yuki Tsunoda.

However, Tsunoda has been given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Bottas during one of his flying laps in Q2. Tsunoda said after qualifying that he had not been told by his team that Bottas was approaching until the braking zone and wanted to avoid a “big shunt” by moving to the inside.

Fernando Alonso continued his strong recent form, putting his Alpine ninth after going over a tenth faster than the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll. The Canadian making it through to Q3 for the first time since Barcelona and after being knocked out in Q1 in the last two races.

George Russell was eleventh, the Williams driver being knocked out by just eight-thousandths of a second after Alonso improved on his final run. Russell had briefly gone tenth fastest before being pushed out by the Alpine, but he was over a tenth faster than the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.

However, Russell managed to keep his run of getting through to Q2 for the ninth time this season getting the closest he been in a Williams to a place in Q3. Its also his best joint qualifying since being pipped by Bottas to pole position in a Mercedes at last years Sakhir Grand Prix.

Sainz did improve on his final run in Q2, however his fastest lap was deleted for running to wide through the final corner. Sebastian Vettel was fourteenth going ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi. Vettel also had his time deleted when he went too wide at the same corner, both the German and Sainz setting an identical lap which was deleted.

Nicolas Latifi and Esteban Ocon both improved at the end of Q1 but were shuffled down the order. Ocon is the biggest surprise given his recent pace and he did set a personal best on his final lap, but it was three-tenths of Giovinazzi’s time in Q2.

Kimi Raikkonen was another driver to set a personal best on his final lap, the Alfa Romeo driver going through the gravel at Schlossgold. Mick Schumacher also had to abandon his run, following oversteer on his final attempt, but he was still over a tenth and a half faster than teammate Nikita Mazepin.

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