Max Verstappen secured his fourth pole position in a row in Austria, narrowly beating the resurgent Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
However Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull registered his fourth consecutive failure to reach the final phase of qualifying. This time a string of track limits infringements prevented him progressing from Q2.
Q1Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, were the first out on track, and soon after Hulkenberg earned the indignity of being the first driver to have a time deleted for exceeding track limits having run wide at the penultimate corner.
Max Verstappen set the early benchmark with a 1’05.190, but later had his time deleted for exceeding track limits at the final corner as well. A strong of his rivals also lost times for running outside of the confines of the track, including Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Lando Norris and Zhou Guanyu.
Valtteri Bottas spun his Alfa Romeo when attempting to start a flying lap, losing the rear of his car under throttle exiting turn one. After coming to a rest on the outside of the corner, Bottas was seemingly unable to restart his car and the session was stopped with red flags. However, Bottas managed to recover his car back to the pits under the red flag, just as his team mate did in the same session two weeks earlier, and Q1 resumed soon after, the Alfa Romeo driver continuing.
Verstappen put in a legitimate lap time to move to the top of the times with a 1’05.116, two tenths of a second ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr and another two tenths further ahead of Charles Leclerc in third.
With under three minutes remaining in the session, the drop zone consisted of Hulkenberg, Alexander Albon, Esteban Ocon, Logan Sargeant in the second Williams and Nyck de Vries. Albon avoided a slow Zhou through the final corner to complete his lap and jump clear of the bottom five, while his team mate Sargeant could not and was eliminated in 18th.
Ocon and Hulkenberg just went safe, which dropped Yuki Tsunoda and Kevin Magnussen into the drop zone and into elimination. Tsunoda was the first driver knocked out, with Zhou, Sargeant, Magnussen and De Vries the final driver in 20th place.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’05.116||12|
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’05.177||0.061||10|
|3||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’05.339||0.223||10|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’05.655||0.539||12|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’05.710||0.594||10|
|15||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’05.763||0.647||8|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’05.784||0.668||10|
|17||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’05.818||0.702||9|
|20||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||AT04||1’05.974||0.858||10|
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Red Bull were eager to send out both their drivers onto the track for the start of the second phase of qualifying. Both Verstappen and Perez waited for several minutes at the end of the pit lane for the green lights to appear.
After the session began, Verstappen used his fresh soft tyres to immediately post the quickest lap of the day so far, becoming the first driver under the 1’05 barrier. Perez was less than a tenth of a second slower than his team mate on his first attempt of the session. However both Red Bull drivers then lost their first and second-quickest times for exceeding track limits in the final two corners.
Track limits remained a bone of contention throughout the second phase of qualifying. Lance Stroll also had his second-quickest time deleted for running wide at the penultimate corner, leaving Norris on the top of the order with a 1’05.038 with Hulkenberg second in the Haas.
After multiple cooldown laps on his tyres, Verstappen managed to emulate his first lap time without exceeding track limits to move up to first place and stay there. Perez moved to fourth before he was demoted a place by Fernando Alonso, but both drivers lost those times for track limits violations, leaving the Red Bull driver with no representative time on the board.
As the field retured to the pit lane after their first runs, the five drivers in danger were Stroll, Oscar Piastri, Bottas, Russell and Perez – the latter pair both having lost times good enough for the top ten due to exceeding track limits.
Russell improved but only into tenth place and was immediately knocked back into danger by Perez, who moved into second place. However, Perez once again had his third and final lap deleted for running too wide at the final corner, as had been the case for every single push lap he attempted in Q2. The disbelieving driver had no idea where he had committed his latest error, and was furious to learn he had missed the chance to progress to Q3 for the fourth race in a row.
He was far from the only driver who had their final push laps deleted for failing to stay within the white lines. When the chequered flag waved and the stewards had finished striking out the illegal times set in the final minutes, Russell was left as the first driver eliminated in 11th place. Joining him out was Ocon in the Alpine and Piastri for McLaren – both of which, like Perez, had lost times which could have got them into Q3 for running wide. Bottas was the other driver who failed to make the cut.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’04.951||18|
|2||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’04.975||0.024||19|
|5||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’05.121||0.170||19|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’05.181||0.230||21|
|14||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||C43||1’05.680||0.729||14|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||2’06.688||61.737||19|
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The final shoot-out for pole position appeared to be as much a question of who could stay within the white lines as much as who was quickest around the ten-turn Red Bull Ring.
Albon was the first driver to set a time, posting a 1’05.823 in the Williams. That initial benchmark was obliterated by Verstappen on his first flying lap, as he successfully kept his car within the white lines to set the provisional pole time of a 1’04.503. The two Ferraris were closest to the championship leader after their first attempts, but Leclerc and Sainz were two and four tenths of a second slower, respectively, with Norris only just behind Sainz in fourth, half a second behind.
Hamilton set the fastest opening sector on his first push lap but could not maintain that speed throughout the rest of the lap and moved to fifth, just behind Norris. Albon took advantage of a clear track to set a time good enough to move up to a provisional sixth place until, almost inevitably, he had that final time deleted for running too wide on the exit of the penultimate corner.
In the final minutes, Verstappen and the Ferraris both headed out for their final runs on fresh soft tyres. Verstappen improved by a tenth of a second to lower his own pole time to a 1’04.391. Leclerc was quickest in the middle sector but lost half a tenth to Verstappen in the final sector and crossed the line that far behind the Red Bull driver, ensuring yet another pole for the world champion.
Sainz was just under two tenths behind Verstappen in third place, while Norris secured fourth place in his updated McLaren. Hamilton secured fifth for Mercedes ahead of the two Aston Martins of Stroll and Alonso. Hulkenberg took eighth for Haas, with Gasly ninth and Albon in tenth, his final deleted time ultimately having no impact on his final qualifying position.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda RBPT||RB19||1’04.391||24|
|3||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari||SF-23||1’04.581||0.190||25|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’04.893||0.502||25|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR23||1’04.911||0.520||27|
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2023 Austrian Grand Prix
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