2021 Austrian GP Qualifying - Verstappen goes back to back in Austria as Lando upsets Mercedes

Max Verstappen managed to make it back-to-back pole positions in Austria, as the Dutchman set the fastest qualifying time on Saturday in front of thousands of orange-clad fans. 

Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton, and Valtteri Bottas were all left disappointed, as second place belonged to another orange-clad man of Lando Norris, who was superb throughout the whole of qualifying, he starts ahead of Sergio Perez on the grid, with the Mexican starting third.

Q1

Particular attention was drawn to turns nine and ten in the first part of qualifying, due to the queues that formed on Friday with drivers looking to start their fast laps without impeding anyone else. The technical director of Mercedes, Rob Meadows summed it up in a conversation to the FIA stating "Fast through nine and ten, don't get in anyone's way".

The early times of the session were set by the two Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, however, these times were quickly toppled by the faster cars taking to track.

Before long, the status quo was formed at the top of the times, with Verstappen leading, 0.2 of a second ahead of both Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, all three setting comfortable laps to see them through to Q2.

The real surprises of the session, with just over four minutes left, were Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso. Norris managed to go purple in the first sector, on his way to securing a time that would see him go second, whereas the man he replaced at McLaren Alonso would be just behind the Brit in third place.

The last two minutes of the session were frantic, with every car from sixth to 20th place returning for another shot at making it to safety. Esteban Ocon would be the first driver to improve his time, as would Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, and George Russell. However, it would not be enough for Ocon, as the Frenchman ended the session in the drop zone. He would be joined by the two Haas cars, the Williams of Nicholas Latifi and Kimi Raikkonen

Out of Q1

18.Kimi Raikkonen 

17.Esteban Ocon

18.Nicholas Latifi

19.Mick Schumacher

20.Nikita Mazepin

Q2

The first car out for Q2 was Sergio Perez, who seemed to struggle in Q1, however, it would be harsh to have judged him against his teammate Verstappen, who set a very competitive time. The Mexican did one attempt on a pair of the medium compound tires before diving back into the pits.

Once Perez had returned to the pits, the floodgates opened, with the other 14 cars in the session taking to the track. There was a 50/50 split in tires between the teams, with those more confident than others electing to follow Perez onto the Medium tires.

Verstappen set the pace early on, scored by a roar from the Dutch traveling faithful, with the inform man being joined by Norris and Perez in the top three after the first flying runs. Just 0.875 of a second separated Verstappen in 1st place to Antonio Giovinazzi in 15th, showing the raw pace by every driver and team.

George Russell continued Williams' hunt for their first earned Q3, with the Brit sat in ninth place after the first runs. He managed to get into Q3 last time out following a penalty to Tsunoda, however on his way back to the pits, Russell said "Sorry lads was that a bit too fast" over his team radio, which the Williams team had no problems with.

For one last shot, every driver, except Verstappen went back on track, with Alonso setting the last of the flying laps with just 46 seconds remaining in the session. Unfortunately, Alonso was held up by Sebastian Vettel at turn ten, leading to a very irate Spaniard.

The real upsets from Q2 were Ferrari, who had both cars eliminated, along with Daniel Ricciardo in the McLaren, who continued his poor run of form so far this season. The three would be accompanied by the impeded Alonso and Giovinazzi. The real winner would go on to be Russell who not only managed to secure his first top ten for Williams but managed to do so on a set of medium tires.

Out of Q2

11.Carlos Sainz

12.Charles Leclerc

13.Daniel Ricciardo

14.Fernando Alonso

15.Antonio Giovinazzi

Q3

As Q3 got underway it was the Aston Martin's who set the pace, however, this was quickly eclipsed by Norris who was the first driver to get into the 1:03s today. Norris would also stay ahead of both Mercedes cars, only to be beaten by the unstoppable Verstappen, who like clockwork took the top spot again, to a chorus of Dutch fans in the Austrian Hills.

The cars would take to track again, with Verstappen on provisional pole for the race. There was little more than a minute on the clock for someone to surpass Verstappen. Ultimately it was Norris who would come closest to the Dutchman, with the two Mercedes cars only managing the best position of fourth with Lewis Hamilton.

This wasn't the only surprise of the final session, as George Russell ventured out of the pits to set a time that would see him start ninth on the grid tomorrow, in what Is lining up to be an incredible Austrian GP.

Top 10 for the Austrian GP

1.Max Verstappen 
2.Lando Norris 
3.Sergio Perez
4.Lewis Hamilton
5.Valtteri Bottas
6.Pierre Gasly
7.Yuki Tsunoda 
8.Sebastian Vettel
9.George Russell
10.Lance Stroll
 

 

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