F1 in Austria, Verstappen “greedy”: dominates qualifying and takes pole


By John

Max Verstappen took centre stage on Formula 1 Saturday at the Red Bull Ring. He won the sprint race, after taking pole position yesterday, and took first place on the grid for tomorrow’s race, the eleventh round of the World Championship. The world champion has always had to deal with combative McLarens, but on his short home track he is now aiming to make a clean sweep and extend his lead in the standings. Tomorrow he will have Lando Norris at his side on the front row and immediately behind him the Mercedes of George Russell and Carlos Sainz with Ferrari, which is still missing something to allow the drivers to keep up with the fastest cars.
The McLarens, in particular, gave Verstappen a hard time in the sprint race too, but tomorrow they won’t be able to play as a team because Oscar Piastri had his third fastest time cancelled for failing to respect the track limit in Q3 and will therefore start seventh, just behind Lewis Hamilton, fifth, and Charles Leclerc, sixth.
Verstappen’s perfect day began in the late morning. Starting from pole, he was disturbed at the start by the McLarens, well helped by the DRS, as demonstrated by Norris’s overtaking of the #1 Red Bull on lap five. But the Dutchman reacted a few seconds later to regain the lead and never let it go, while Piastri took advantage of the situation to take second place from his teammate. The sprint standings, Piastri aside, practically announced the starting grid for tomorrow’s GP: Russell fourth, Sainz fifth, Hamilton sixth and Leclerc seventh. With today’s victory, Verstappen has won all three sprints contested this season.
“When DRS was authorised it was complicated. We had a good fight, the McLarens gave me problems, but it was a pleasant race. Then when I came out of DRS I was able to do my race. There are still things to improve for tomorrow”, underlined the Dutchman. On the Ferrari front, Leclerc, who started tenth due to the problem he had yesterday in Q3, underlined that “the real problem remains the performance. We are trying to work but there is no miracle solution”.
If the Ferrari drivers were hoping to improve something in qualifying, there was no step forward, because Sainz only got to the second row thanks to Piastri’s demotion, while Leclerc made a mistake in his last attempt, almost going off the track. “I tried too hard, I’m sorry. I should have even taken third place,” commented the Monegasque. Team principal Frederic Vasseur, however, is not pessimistic: “We have made a small step forward but it is certainly not enough because we wanted to be further up the grid,” the Frenchman told Sky Sport. “Tomorrow there will be a lot of battle on the first lap, and clearly strategy will come into play compared to the sprint, so you can play at that level too. Today we fixed things a bit, we are getting closer.”
However, it will be difficult to challenge Verstappen, who today took his fourth consecutive pole position in Austria, his eighth of the season and his fortieth in his career, and with the points he took in the sprint he has now 227 points in the standings, +71 on his closest pursuer, Norris, and +77 on Leclerc. “I’m happy to have taken pole (he had been missing since Imola, ed.), We made some changes before qualifying and I hope that will have an effect in the race tomorrow. We’ll see, in the last races McLaren has been very strong and we hope to have made a step forward,” commented the Dutchman.