Max Verstappen bagged the pole position in Styrian GP on Saturday.© AFP
World Championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull produced the quickest lap in qualifying on Saturday to claim pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix. Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas was second quickest but drops to fifth on the grid because of a three-place penalty imposed on Friday, leaving teammate Lewis Hamilton to start on the front row with Verstappen. McLaren’s Lando Norris produced the performance of the day, pushing the front runners all the way and finishing fourth, meaning he will start from third. Norris was followed by the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez and the Alphatauris of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda who were split by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari in seventh.
Fernando Alonso in the Alpine and Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin rounded out the top 10 with George Russell just missing out in his Williams.
Verstappen had been the standout performer in practice on Friday and looked in supreme control as he claimed his third pole position of the season, clocking a fastest time of 1min 3.841secs.
“It has been a very good weekend,” said Verstappen. “The car was very good to drive in qualifying. It was not easy to deal with the traffic, the fifth lap in Q3 was good enough in the end.”
Bottas made a late dart and finished 0.194secs behind Verstappen.
The Finn, however, was penalised on Friday for “dangerous driving” after spinning in the pit lane and will start from fifth on the third row of the grid.
That penalty opened the door for his teammate Lewis Hamilton to keep up the pressure on Verstappen who leads him by just 12 points after seven rounds of the championship.
“They (Red Bull) have been so fast this weekend, been giving it absolutely everything,” said Hamilton.
“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.”
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