Max Verstappen on pole again for Austrian Grand Prix with Lando Norris second

Max Verstappen on pole again for Austrian Grand Prix with Lando Norris second
Lewis Hamilton had to settle for only fourth.

Max Verstappen secured a hat-trick of pole positions as Lando Norris qualified a career-best second for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen did just enough on his first run in Q3 at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring, with Norris only 0.048 seconds off securing a maiden and shock pole.

Lewis Hamilton had to settle for only fourth, three tenths back, with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull. Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas is set to start fifth.

George Russell staked another claim to join Hamilton at Mercedes next year, with his best qualifying result for Williams. The Briton will line up an impressive ninth for Sunday’s race.

“Q3 was pretty bad,” said Verstappen. “I am happy to be first but not the way we got it.

“But to be on pole twice in a row here is very good and hopefully we can finish it off tomorrow.”

Norris said: “I feel epic. It was cool. It puts us in a good position for tomorrow and it was one of the best laps I did and it is a great feeling.”

Verstappen’s travelling Orange Army erupted as their man continued to pile the pressure on Hamilton, who had no response.

In the hours before qualifying, Hamilton’s Mercedes team announced that their world champion will be staying for at least another two years.

I feel epic. It was cool. It puts us in a good position for tomorrow and it was one of the best laps I did and it is a great feeling.

Lando Norris

The 36-year-old British driver and the Silver Arrows have been Formula One’s all-conquering force for the past seven years, with Hamilton marching to six titles during that period.

But Hamilton  heads into the ninth of a scheduled 23 rounds trailing Verstappen by 18 points and faces seeing the Dutchman extend his lead.

The 23-year-old has been in a class of one in recent races and in front of his partisan crowd, with more than 30,000 fans travelling from Holland to Spielberg in Formula One’s biggest crowd of the Covid-19 era, the Red Bull man got it over the line.

Norris has been one of the standout performers this year and the McLaren driver, now in his third season, delivered yet again with a brilliant one-lap performance.

Indeed, the future of British motor racing when Hamilton finally hangs up his helmet appears in superb hands with Russell providing  Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, should he need it, with another reminder of his credentials.

Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel qualified eighth but faces a probable grid penalty for blocking Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard completed his final lap.

Alonso was furious with Vettel, gesticulating wildly at the Aston Martin driver, as he was knocked out of Q2 and forced to settle for 14th.

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