Max Verstappen claimed his fourth successive pole position, and fourth on the bounce at the Red Bull Ring, during qualifying for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by just 0.048s during a tighter than expected denouement to Q3.

It was a disastrous session for Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who will start only 15th, after a sequence of track limits breaches in Q2.

Friday’s qualifying session determined the grid for Sunday’s race, with a separate session on Saturday to sort out the starting order for the Sprint race, per 2023’s revised format.

Verstappen controlled proceedings throughout and set a benchmark of 1:04.503s to claim provisional pole after the first set of runs in Q3.

The reigning world champion improved on his final push lap to a 1:04.391s before quick mini-sectors from Leclerc threatened to unseat Verstappen and create a surprise.

But Leclerc fell just short, by just 0.048s, sealing another pole position for Verstappen.

Carlos Sainz was third for Ferrari, within two-tenths of Verstappen’s time, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was an encouraging fourth at a track where he has regularly excelled.

Lewis Hamilton was the sole Mercedes participant in Q3, after George Russell could muster only 11th, and he wound up fifth overall.

Lance Stroll out-qualified Aston Martin team-mate Fernando Alonso to secure sixth on the grid, while Nico Hulkenberg made Q3 for the third successive race and took eighth.

Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Williams’ Alexander Albon rounded out the top 10.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19.
Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Austrian Grand Prix, Friday 30th June 2023. Spielberg, Austria.

Perez was a non-participant in Q3 once more after failing to make it through to the final session.

All three of Perez’s hot laps during Q2 were deleted for track limits violations through the final two corners of the lap.

Perez had set a lap quick enough to finish second in Q2 but the final deletion left him without a representative lap time.

It means Perez has failed to make Q3 for four successive events and five times overall from nine attempts so far in 2023.

He is set to start Sunday’s grand prix from a lowly 15th on the grid.

Esteban Ocon was another to suffer a track limits violation, taking 12th, while Oscar Piastri and Valtteri Bottas joined Perez in failing to make Q3.

AlphaTauri suffered a double Q1 elimination with Yuki Tsunoda 16th and Nyck de Vries slowest of the 20 competitors – though just nine-tenths off the best time in a compressed session due to the short lap times.

Zhou Guanyu was only 17th, ahead of Williams rookie Logan Sargeant, who posed reasonable first sectors before fading in the last phase of the lap.

Kevin Magnussen was a low-key 19th for Haas after an earlier lap was deleted for exceeding track limits.

Saturday’s Sprint Shootout, which sets the grid for the Sprint race, is scheduled for 12:00 local time

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