RACE DEBRIEF

    Max Verstappen may have taken his fourth pole position of the season for the Austrian Grand Prix, but the Dutchman cut a frustrated figure at the end of qualifying – and was vocally critical of Red Bull's strategy immediately after crossing the line to seal P1 on the grid…

    “We will never, never, do that again, to go out first. It was P1, but we’ll talk about it later”, exclaimed Verstappen on the radio after as he clinched pole by just four-hundredths of a second over McLaren’s Lando Norris.

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    The Dutchman was irate as he was the first driver to leave the pits for his flying run in Q3 – a strategy that left him punching a hole through the air, while others were able to enjoy his slipstream, potentially grabbing a straight line speed advantage.

    “A lot of things of course can happen in one lap, but I think it’s of course, very satisfying to take another pole position. Of course, I would have liked it to be a different because Q3 was not very good,” he said at Red Bull’s home circuit.

    “I went out and realised I was first, so you just get on with it, but I didn’t expect to lose so much time on the straights, so that’s what we will know for next time. Better to stay in the box than do that,” he added.

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    Pole position - but not as he wanted it, said Verstappen on Saturday

    Regardless, the Dutchman was thrilled to see swathes of orange-clad fans creating an electric atmosphere around the Red Bull Ring, most of them of course cheering for Verstappen himself.

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    "Personally, I wasn’t happy after Q3 but in general, during the whole day it was very enjoyable to see all the fans and I think even before Q1 started they were just jumping and bouncing around and they were having a good time, especially of course already with the last one and a half years everyone has gone through and to open it up again… and to see all the fans cheering is an amazing sight," he said.

    "Of course it doesn’t matter if they’re orange or not – just in general to see the fans there is amazing – so hopefully we can give them a good race tomorrow."

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    An epic sight as fans lined the grandstands at the Red Bull Ring

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner shone more light on why Verstappen wasn’t happy, as he explained after the session that the championship leader did not want to be in clean air, adding that the Dutchman may have given a crucial advantage to the driver behind him: McLaren’s shock front-row starter Norris.

    “With Max, he’s always looking for that little bit more and I think he felt there was more in the car today,” said Horner. “He had a slight lock-up in the first run and we wanted to give him clean air for the last run, and that meant he was at the front of the queue. And when you’re at the front of the queue you’re creating the hole in the air and that gave Lando just behind him a slight tow.

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    “That’s what he was a little frustrated about at the end there. Nonetheless, a phenomenal performance and to have Checo [Sergio Perez] up there ahead of the Mercedes is a great team result,” concluded Horner.

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    Perez went one better than last week, as he starts third on Sunday

    As for Perez, who starts third – his best qualifying performance at the Red Bull Ring – he said he was relieved to qualify so strongly given he had faced a tough weekend so far.

    “Yes well it’s been a pretty hard weekend up to now, we’ve been chasing a lot the balance, just exploring the car in all areas and chipping away every single run so it didn’t come easy, you know?” he said.

    “It was very hard work, harder than you might think, but in the end we’ve got a good lap and a good starting position for tomorrow because I believe that tomorrow we’ve got a better race car than in quali.”

    Verstappen has the chance to extend his 18-point lead in the standings over Lewis Hamilton on Sunday as Hamilton starts the Austrian Grand Prix in fourth.