Fitness

Austrian GP Sprint Shootout: Max Verstappen leads team-mate Sergio Perez as Red Bull lock down Sprint’s front row

Austrian GP Sprint Shootout: Max Verstappen leads team-mate Sergio Perez as Red Bull lock down Sprint's front row

Max Verstappen dominated the Sprint Shootout to lead team-mate Sergio Perez in a Red Bull one-two ahead of Lando Norris; Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both made early exits; watch the Austrian GP Sprint live on Sky Sports F1 at 3.30pm on Saturday


14:17, UK, Saturday 01 July 2023

Max Verstappen completed the Austrian Grand Prix pole double of leading team-mate Sergio Perez in a Red Bull one-two in the Sprint Shootout.

Having led Friday’s qualifying session to take pole for Sunday’s race, Verstappen produced another top performance – this time in damp conditions – to secure pole for Saturday’s Sprint, live on Sky Sports at 3.30pm.

The Dutchman, who holds a 69-point lead over Perez at the top of the world championship as he seeks a third straight drivers’ title, finished almost half a second ahead of his team-mate to underline his all-round excellence of condition.

Perez put aside a disappointing Friday, where his failure to stay within track limits led to an unnecessary elimination in Q2, to edge McLaren’s Lando Norris into third, who impressively backed up up to the P4 he got last Friday.

Nico Hulkenberg continued his strong form with one lap to go ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in fourth, with Aston Martin duo Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll close behind.

Lewis Hamilton is out of the sprint shootout after a disappointing SQ1 at the Austrian Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc, who narrowly took shock pole from Verstappen on Friday, initially qualified in sixth, but was demoted three places to ninth after being found to have obstructed McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in SQ1.

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Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and the other Haas of Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10, with big losers Mercedes, failing to pass either Lewis Hamilton or George Russell in Q3.

Hamilton qualified in 18th place after being guilty of the same mistake as Perez on Friday, erasing a lap he was comfortably up to in SQ2 due to exceeding the track’s limits at Turn 9.

Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson was on SkyPad to analyze whether Max Verstappen blocked Lewis Hamilton on his flying lap and caused him to exit the sprint shootout.

The seven-time world champion had his last attempt at a flying lap ruined in its opening stages, as he overtook Verstappen, who was completing a flying lap.

Russell advanced to SQ2, but reported a hydraulic failure at the end of the opening part of the session that prevented him from returning to the track, leaving him to start in P15.

Results of the Austrian GP Sprint Shootout
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
3) Lando Norris, McLaren
4) Nico Hulkenberg, Haas
5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
6) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
7) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
8) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
9) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari*
10) Kevin Magnussen, Haas

*Leclerc was demoted three places for the obstruction

Red Bull in position to maintain dominance

Red Bull arrive at their home Grand Prix this weekend looking to extend a streak of eight wins (and a Sprint victory) to start the 2023 season.

There is added motivation for the reigning constructors’ champions as they seek to honor the legacy of team founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who died in October last year.

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Although they didn’t get the one-two that was likely with their pace on Friday, Perez overcame a scare in SQ1 – when he came in 14th – to ensure there will be two RB19s on the front row later on Saturday.

Former racing driver Anthony Davidson assesses Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen’s qualifying performance ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

The thinking ahead of the Sprint Shootout – which featured three shortened sessions – was that the damp conditions might have given Verstappen’s challengers more hope, but in the end he took a bigger margin than on Friday .

Verstappen benefited from saving extra soft tires throughout the weekend, and was never a threat in the final eight-minute stint.

Sad session for Mercedes

With rain falling overnight and for most of the morning in the Styrian Hills, SQ1 started with the track drying and a clear line emerging.

The fact that the session was officially declared a ‘wet’ 15 minutes before it started meant that drivers were free to use any dry tire – including intermediates or wets – as opposed to just medium on SQ1 and SQ2 and soft on SQ3, as mandated by the 2023 Sprint rules.

Hamilton appeared to be one of the drivers who coped best with the conditions, but left himself exposed to the dangers of a rapidly improving circuit.

Nico Hulkenberg’ Haas jumped into the pit lane when he hit one of the tires he used in the SQ2 session.

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The Brit went out of shape at Turn 9 with a lap that was enough to put him at the top of the standings at the time, and he should have been comfortable going into SQ2.

Russell, who endured a disappointing Friday as a lack of pace saw him qualify 11th for Sunday’s race, appeared to have made overnight improvements as he showed promise as he progressed through SQ2.

However, on his return to the garage, he reported a hydraulic issue, which the team immediately addressed to ensure the car was ready for the Sprint.

It promises to be a huge challenge for Mercedes to score points in the 24-lap contest, with potentially changing weather conditions during the Sprint their only possible path to victory.

Austrian GP Sprint Shootout Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Max Verstappen red bull 1:04.440
2) Sergio Perez red bull +0.493
3) Lando Norris McLaren +0.570
4) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +0.644
5) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.696
6) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.805
7) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +0.818
8) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +0.907
9) Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.926
10) Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.472
Out of Q2
11) Alex Albon Williams 1:06.152
12) Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:06.360
13) Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:06.369
14) Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 1:06.593
15) George Russell Mercedes There is no set time
Out of Q1
16) Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:07:062
17) Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:07:106
18) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:07:282
19) Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:07:291
20) Logan Sergeant Williams 1:07:426

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