Formula 1 Racing

Verstappen beats McLarens to sprint race pole as fault hits Leclerc · RaceFans

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2024

Max Verstappen beat Lando Norris to pole position for the Red Bull Ring sprint race by less than a tenth of a second in qualifying.

The championship leader claimed the top spot for Saturday’s sprint race ahead of the two McLaren drivers, Norris and Oscar Piastri.

George Russell took fourth with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr in fifth as Sainz’s Ferrari team mate, Charles Leclerc, was hit with a power unit problem at the end of SQ3, leaving him tenth.


A slight chance of rain had been forecast for sprint qualifying but conditions were clear and warm when the session began. Under the regulations, all drivers in the first phase of sprint qualifying would be obliged to run on medium compound tyres.

Lewis Hamilton was the first driver out to start a flying lap, but after nearly losing his Mercedes at the exit of the first corner, he then lost the lap by running wide at the exit of turn six. His team mate, George Russell, went quickest of all with his first lap, before Verstappen went almost a tenth faster to go to the top of the times.

In the closing minutes, Hamilton was still languishing in the drop zone, yet to set a legitimate lap time. A scrappy lap through traffic on a track now increasingly covered in gravel left him only 12th fastest. However, that ultimately proved good enough for him to get through into SQ2.

Yuki Tsunoda made a mistake running through the new gravel strip at the exit of turn nine and lost control of his RB, spinning to the outside of turn ten. However, he was able to continue without affecting the final laps of any of his rivals other than Charles Leclerc who was already safely through.

At the chequered flag, Tsunoda was the final driver safely through the session, with RB team mate Daniel Ricciardo eliminated by two hundredths of a second in 16th. He was joined by Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Alexander Albon – who failed to follow Williams team mate Logan Sargeant out of the session – with Zhou Guanyu knocked out slowest.

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SQ1 result

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Several teams carried out inspections of their cars’ floors in between the two sessions. Mercedes checked Hamilton’s undertray following his trip over the gravel, while Tsunoda’s RB received similar treatment after his spin.

As in the first round of qualifying, drivers were limited under the regulations to remain on medium compound tyres. When the second phase…

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