SPIELBERG, Austria — Max Verstappen continued his unstoppable form by qualifying fastest for Saturday’s sprint race in Austria, almost half a second faster than teammate Sergio Perez.
Verstappen and Perez will start Saturday’s sprint event, which offers points for the top eight finishers, from the front row at the team’s home race.
Verstappen, who has already qualified on pole for Sunday’s main event, can score a maximum of eight points in Saturday’s shortened event.
Perez, who endured a calamitous regular qualifying on Friday, will be looking to claw some points back against his teammate in the sprint, although he already finds himself a mammoth 69 behind.
McLaren’s Lando Norris continued his impressive pace this week by finishing third — he qualified fourth for Sunday’s grand prix, but it remains to be seen whether the team has the pace to keep it.
Nico Hulkenberg claimed an impressive fourth for Haas ahead of Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
Aston Martin have looked off their normal 2023 level this week and Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll had to settle for seventh and eighth respectively.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will start from 18th after falling foul of a track limits penalty at the Red Bull Ring, with his final Shootout 1 time being deleted for exceeding the white lines at Turn 10.
“That was really bad time useage,” Hamilton complained to his team on the radio after the session.
Hamilton, who starts Sunday’s grand prix from fourth, said: “The sprint race doesn’t really matter anyway. Today I’ll just have some fun from the back. It is what it is. I’m not going to worry about it. “
It was a difficult session in general for Mercedes, with a hydraulic issue on George Russell’s car meaning he will start 15th.
Track limits has been a talking point this week — after taking pole position for the grand prix on Friday, Verstappen said the amount of lap times being deleted by the FIA stewards made him and his fellow drivers look like amateurs.
Max Verstappen eases to sprint pole, Lewis Hamilton 18th