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Verstappen hails ‘positive day’ after bouncing back from practice issue to take Austria Sprint pole

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 28: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle

Max Verstappen was left feeling positive about his strong start to the weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix, having taken pole position in Sprint Qualifying just hours after the team fixed an issue that brought his car to a halt in practice.

There was a moment of potential drama for Verstappen when he was forced to stop his RB20 on the main straight of the Red Bull Ring with a sensor problem nearly halfway through Free Practice 1.

READ MORE: Verstappen pips Norris to Sprint Qualifying pole in Austria by 0.093s

After his car was returned to the pit lane, however, he was soon able to return to action following a quick reset.

When Sprint Qualifying commenced later in the day, those issues seemed a world away as Verstappen stormed to the top of the timesheets in each segment, culminating in him claiming pole in SQ3 by just 0.093s from McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Reflecting on his hard-fought P1 after the session, Verstappen commented: “It was a positive day, to be honest. I’m happy. We started the day well, the car was really in a good window. [There was] the niggle with the sensor, but we fixed that quickly.

2024 Austrian GP Sprint Qualifying: Max Verstappen crosses the line to seal pole for the Sprint

“Then heading into qualifying, I think the car was pretty strong. I could push. Of course there will always be areas where we can do better, so we’ll look at that tonight. But, yeah, definitely a good start to the weekend.”

While the teams have just one practice session to take learnings from during a Sprint weekend, Verstappen is feeling good about how the Red Bull has seemed to perform so far.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from Austria Sprint Qualifying as Verstappen takes pole and Leclerc hits trouble

When quizzed on how much of a threat McLaren could pose, though – with Norris and team mate Oscar Piastri just behind in P2 and P3 – the Dutchman added: “Yeah, at the end of the day when really everyone is pushing flat-out, they are again behind me, so for sure they’re quick as well.

“And yeah, we seem quick in the high-speed, which of course is nice around here. Hopefully we can keep that going also tomorrow, but of course the Sprint will give us an early indication of how the pace will be in the race for every car, so I’m looking forward to that.”

‘We should have been in the mix today’ reckons Perez after missing out on top spots in Sprint Qualifying

On the other side of the Red Bull garage, there was some frustration for Sergio Perez, who felt that more was possible after ending Sprint Qualifying in P7 amid a busy track in the final moments.

“I think we were making good progress,” the Mexican said after the session. “My [SQ2] lap one wasn’t ideal, I went deep into Turn 3, so I went again and I was finding the time. But I think we were in the mix today.

READ MORE: ‘It won’t be Max Verstappen’ who fills Hamilton’s seat at Mercedes for 2025, says Horner

“Unfortunately I don’t know what Esteban [Ocon] was doing there, whether he apparently had to drive really slowly. I did my final lap within half a second from him, and basically there was no chance.

“It’s a shame because I think we [had] a more promising pace today, so unfortunately we were not able to maximise it today.”

On whether what he had learned in practice had made him reasonably confident of being able to fight further forward during the rest of the weekend, Perez answered: “Yes, definitely.

“I think we should have been in the mix today, but for circumstances out of our control we didn’t end up where we needed to be, and I’m confident that tomorrow will be a better day.”

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