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Verstappen claims pole in Austria


Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 28 degrees C, while the track temperature is 44 degrees.

Being a Sprint weekend, there was just this morning's practice session in which to get prepared, and judging by the pace of Max Verstappen the Dutchman is more than ready.

The world champion was 0.241s quicker than his nearest rival, Carlos Sainz, but adding insult to injury did his best lap on the medium tyres. Indeed, along with Perez, Ocon and Norris he didn't even bother with the red-banded rubber.

Norris was at the other end of the timesheets, the Briton, who is running the first phase of McLaren's upgrade package, bringing his session to an early end after going over one of the kerbs and damaging his floor.

It was pretty much an incident free session, though it was noticeable that a number of drivers were running wide in Turns 1, 3, 9 and 10, and while they were able to get away with it then, the remaining sessions are another matter entirely.

Other than the fact that there has been limited running, it is anticipated that there could be rain over the next hour, while there is a 90% probability of it being wet tomorrow, which is going to cause the engineers and strategists some headaches in terms of parc ferme rules.

The lights go green and Magnussen leads the way, followed by Hulkenberg, de Vries, Tsunoda and Stroll.

Barely out of the pitlane, Norris is warned about traffic.

Magnussen posts a benchmark 6.006, with Hulkenberg, Stroll, de Vries and Tsunoda all failing to beat him.

Indeed, Hulkenberg has his time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 9.

As Verstappen goes quickest (5.190) and Piastri second, Norris has his time deleted, as does Sainz.

Perez goes third, ahead f Magnussen, Stroll and Leclerc.

"Vibration under braking," reports Russell, as Bottas spins at Turn 1, bringing out the yellows.

Sainz has his time deleted again, as Bottas is unable to get going again.

The session is red-flagged.

Replay suggests a combination of running slightly wide and turbulence from the McLaren that was running ahead of him.

The session resumes with 11:50 remaining.

Incredibly, during the red-flag period, Verstappen has had his time deleted and is therefore yet to post a legal time, all of which promotes Piastri to first. Hamilton has also had his time deleted.

Albon is first out, followed by Ocon, Alonso, Norris, Russell and Hamilton.

As it stands, eight drivers have yet to post a legal time.

In quick succession, Alonso, Norris and Sainz go quickest, only for Sainz and then Verstappen to go quicker... or have they?

In a strange move, Gasly has his 6.966 reinstated.

Alonso is warned that most drivers are bring punished for running wide in Turn 10.

De Vries goes 13th, while Tsunoda goes seventh.

Sargeant can only manage 18th, as Gasly improves to seventh.

De Vries drops to 19th as his time is deleted.

Magnussen improves to ninth with a 5.793, and Piastri seventh (5.683).

Quickest in the final sector, Stroll goes eleventh (5.798).

As Gasly has his latest time deleted, Norris improves to second with a 5.179.

Less than 2 minutes and as Perez goes second, Hulkenberg, Albon, Ocon, Sargeant and de Vries comprise the drop zone.

Albon improves to eighth, as Hulkenberg goes eleventh, only to be eliminated by Ocon.

Stroll goes eleventh and Russell tenth, while Gasly leapfrogs the pair of them with a 5.515 to go fourth.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Perez, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc, Norris, Alonso, Hamilton, Albon and Piastri.

We lose Tsunoda, Zhou, Sargeant, Magnussen and de Vries.

That said, some of those earlier penalties took several minutes to come through so nothing is set in stone.

"How's the radar looking?" asks Verstappen ahead of Q2.

The Dutchman leads the way, followed by Perez, Leclerc, Sainz and Norris.

Verstappen crosses the line at 4.955 while his teammate can only manage a 5.028.

Alonso goes third with a 5.382, but is demoted by Norris and then Stroll.

However, Verstappen's time is deleted, as is Sainz's and indeed Perez's and Stroll's.

All of which leave Norris quickest, ahead of Hulkenberg, Alonso, Sainz and Hamilton.

Ocon goes fourth, but his final corner looked a little dodgy. Moments later, Gasly posts a 5.308 to go second.

"This is a joke with these track limits," says Verstappen, "f****** ridiculous!"

The Dutchman posts a 4.951, while Perez goes third with a 5.235.

A 5.036 sees Sainz go second, the Spaniard edging out Norris by 0.002s.

Albon improves to eighth with a 5.387, but again, was it legal?

Hamilton improves to sixth with a 5.188, while teammate Russell is currently eleventh.

Alonso has his time deleted, thereby dropping the Spaniard to 9th.

With less than four minutes remaining, Ocon, Stroll, Piastri, Bottas and Perez comprise the drop zone, the Mexican having had his time deleted again.

"Just need to get that banker in," Perez is told as Russell drops to 14th after his time is deleted.

Perez goes quickest in S2, while Russell goes tenth overall. Perez crosses the line at 4.990 to go second, thereby demoting Russell.

Ocon goes seventh, but is demoted when Alonso goes sixth with a 5.181.

Gasly goes fifth and Stroll sixth and Piastri ninth as Perez has his time deleted for a third time.

Piastri has his time deleted, as do Ocon, Albon and Bottas as the session gradually turns to farce. Indeed, Hulkenberg's time is deleted as is Gasly's and Albon's though both make the cut.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Sainz, Norris, Leclerc, Stroll, Alonso, Hamilton, Gasly, Hulkenberg and Albon.

We lose Russell, Ocon, Piastri, Bottas and Perez.

Told that his time was deleted, Perez's reaction is understandable. "F***," he replies.

"Can we go again?" he asks, only to be told that the session is over.

Check out our Friday gallery from the Red Bull Ring here.


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1. Posted by elsiebc, 02/07/2023 23:13

"One of the most unenjoyable qualis I've ever watched, right up there with the shootout the following day. I didn't pay attention to who was putting in a fast lap but rather watching with baited breath for the steward decisions minutes after the car crossed the line. If that was every weekend I'd have a couple more hours for myself."

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2. Posted by rambler, 01/07/2023 8:37

"Most road cars have "Lane Assist". May be the idiots in charge count such a system as "driver assistance" like traction control and anti-lock brakes. They can put a camera in the drivers helmet to give you to give us a psychedelic view a camera to tell if the car is outside track limits? Nah!"

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3. Posted by kenji, 01/07/2023 1:42

"I'm quite surprised that with all the ground breaking technology available today that there are no laser/sensor style of imbedded tech that can instantly register whenever a car exceeds track limits? That would possibly allow drivers who infringe to continue on for another fast lap if time and conditions are acceptable. As it stands ATM there is no way to challenge the results if they are misinterpreted...such as Gasly's was."

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