Verstappen elated to secure pole in front of 'incredible' Red Bull Ring crowd as Perez rues tough day
Max Verstappen rode the waves of a sea of orange as he secured a third-straight pole position in Austria and ensured he would start first for Saturday’s Sprint at the Red Bull Ring – but Sergio Perez wasn’t as delighted with his P4 showing, which became P13 after a post-qualifying penalty.
Friday qualifying saw both Mercedes drivers crash out in Q3, leaving just enough time for a final dash to the line – with Verstappen winning out over Ferrari’s Leclerc by just 0.029s, to send the crowd into raptures, thousands rooting for the reigning champion.
“It’s incredible to see the crowd here and see so much orange and the support I get now for a few years already here,” the pole-sitter said after qualifying. “It definitely brings a smile on my face and I hope we can make it a great weekend.”
READ MORE: 'There's everything to play for' say Ferrari drivers after claiming P2 and P3 in Austrian GP qualifying
As for the Saturday Sprint, he added: “I think we have a great car. Normally… qualifying is not our strongest point, so I just hope of course to have a clean Turn 1, a good getaway. From then on, anything can happen, but I feel confident with the car we have.
“I mean it’s been like this the whole year already, sometimes they’re [Ferrari are] ahead, sometimes we’re ahead. Sprint – I think the car’s good in the race… I hope tomorrow that we are competitive in the race again.”
Perez on the other hand only managed P4, four-tenths back on his team mate, and explained that his lack of relative pace became apparent in FP1 earlier on Saturday.
Worse was to come, though, as Perez was stripped of his Q3 times for a track limits infringement in Q2, meaning he will start the Sprint in P13.
“It was a tricky day,” said Perez prior to receiving his penalty. “Already from FP1, things didn’t feel great so a bit of understanding on our side and yes, hopefully tomorrow we are able to recover.
READ MORE: Perez to start Austrian GP Sprint from P13 after Q3 lap times deleted
“I wasn’t able to get into the rhythm – so some understanding [needed] but obviously now it’s Sprint tomorrow, and a long race ahead. So we have got to keep our heads down and push hard for tomorrow’s Sprint to try to make some progress and get a good position for Sunday’s race.”
Points are earned by the top eight finishers in the Sprint on Saturday, with Red Bull looking to consolidate their championship advantage.