SPIELBERG, Austria – Max Verstappen gave Red Bull Racing something to smile about Saturday at the track owned and sponsored by the Austrian energy drink company.
Verstappen raced to his third Formula One pole position of the season during qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, turning a lap of 1:03.841 around the 15-turn circuit ahead of the second annual Styrian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman outpaced the Mercedes pair of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton for the top honors in qualifying, though Bottas will drop three places on the final grid for his spin in pit lane from Friday practice.
“It’s been a very good weekend,” Verstappen said. “I’m super happy to be on pole here at home — it’s nice to see a Red Bull car first here.
“I’m sure again tomorrow it will be very tight. Hopefully, again, it will be as interesting as in France.”
Bottas posted three personal-best sectors during his final qualifying run, but could only muster a time of 1:04.035. After his grid penalty is applied, Bottas will start Sunday’s race from fifth place.
As such, Bottas’ teammate – seven-time F-1 champion Lewis Hamilton – will join Verstappen on the front row after being third-best (1:04.067) on the time sheets in the final knockout round.
Hamilton believes the Red Bull team has a pace advantage at the Spielberg circuit, but he’s not given up hope on securing a third career Red Bull Ring victory just yet.
“Generally they [Red Bull] have had a quarter of a second on us all weekend,” said Hamilton, the defending Styrian Grand Prix winner. “I think we’ve managed to eke close in qualifying, but in race trim yesterday they were 0.25s ahead of us most of the time.
“I don’t think we have the raw pace to overtake them, that’s for sure, but we might be able to keep up,” Hamilton added. “I did everything I could, and we’ll go into the race ready for a fight.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris will start third for the third time this season alongside the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, with Bottas and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly sharing the third row of the grid.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc qualified seventh, the only one of the Prancing Horses to make Q3. AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll closed the top 10 in qualifying.
Williams’ George Russell came agonizingly close to cracking Q3, missing the cut in the second knockout round by a scant .008 of a second.
It matches the best starting spot he’s had with the U.K.-based team since joining them in 2019. Russell also started 11th for the Portuguese Grand Prix earlier this season.
Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix is slated for a 9 a.m. start, with live coverage in the United States on ESPN.