F1 2021 Styrian GP Qualifying Report: Verstappen on Pole at the Red Bull Ring

Max Verstappen and Red Bull headed into the Styrian Grand Prix weekend on a high. Verstappen has won two of the previous three rounds and sailed into a 12 point lead over Sir Lewis Hamilton. Sergio Perez had also won in Azerbaijan, making it three in a row for the Austrian outfit ahead of their home races at their own circuit.

Despite predictions of rain before the weekend, glorious Styrian sunshine illuminated the circuit throughout qualifying. So, we’d see some electric laps around the Red Bull Ring.

Here are all the highlights from qualifying!

Q1

As the Red Bull Ring is such a short lap (just over 60 seconds), drivers weren’t rushing to get out. When they did, Williams’ George Russell was the fastest of the early runners. It didn’t take long for drivers to beat that though, and Lando Norris, then Verstappen topped the times.

Norris was impressing yet again in qualifying.

Hamilton topped FP3 earlier in the day, but the defending champion could only manage P4, slower than Norris. Valtteri Bottas was Verstappen’s closest challenger, but the Finn couldn’t claim pole thanks to an embarrassing three-place grid penalty for a spin in the pit-lane in practice.

Nicholas Latifi blew the contest wide open with a lap that sent him up to P8 with six minutes remaining. Due to the short lap time here, mistakes are amplified and a tenth of a second can make a massive difference. Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz and even Perez were all under threat before their final runs.

In the end, Latifi (P16), Esteban Ocon (P17), Raikkonen (P18) and both Haas’ of Mick Schumacher (P19) and Nikita Mazepin (P20) were all eliminated after the first qualifying.

Q2

Bottas was wasting no time in second qualifying and was the first to set a lap. Most drivers were opting for the slower medium tyres, as this is the preferred race tyre. Verstappen would soon beat the Finn to top spot as Hamilton made a mistake on his opening lap.

Max Verstappen was setting the timing boards alive in Q2

Hamilton would recover to third, but it was provisionally an all Red Bull front-row. That didn’t last long though, as Pierre Gasly sent his AlphaTauri to the top of the timing boards, albeit on the soft tyres.

After the final flying laps, Giovinazzi (P15) and both Sainz (P12) and Ricciardo (P13) were surprisingly out. Both Aston Martins suffered because of deleted lap times, but Stroll snuck into Q3. Vettel wasn’t so lucky though, and will line-up P14. George Russell’s (P11) excellent qualifying record continued and was only eight thousands of a second from Q3.

Q3

Hamilton was again the first out in Q3, and set a respectable 1:04.205 for his opening lap. Verstappen though, would turn the wick in his Honda up and set the first lap in the 1:03’s, that would take some beating. Norris was putting the cat amongst the pigeons too, as he sent his McLaren to P3 after the first runs.

Could the champion spring a surprise in final qualifying? Image: Mercedes

The drivers queued for a good position at the end of Q3, every millimetre would be crucial. Hamilton was near the front of the queue, but a mistake on his final lap meant his couldn’t improve. Bottas usurped his teammate, but Valtteri would start P5 thanks to his penalty.

In the end, it was Max Verstappen ended up on pole for the second week in a row. The Flying Dutchman was on another level today, nobody could get close to his pace. Norris ended up a very impressive P4 and will be on the clean side of the grid in P3 tomorrow.

Perez was a disappointed P5, but Gasly was elated to be P6 again. Leclerc continued Ferrari’s bad run, P7 was all he could manage. Tsunoda ended up P8, but a potential penalty for blocking Bottas could be heading his way.

Fernando Alonso was a very credible P9 in his Alpine, while P10 was all Stroll and Aston Martin could manage.

Full Classification

Pos.No.DriverConstructorGap
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:03.841
277Valtteri BottasMercedes+0.194
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.226
44Lando NorrisMcLaren+0.279
511Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing+0.327
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+0.395
716Charles LeclercFerrari+0.631
822Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri+0.673
914Fernando AlonsoAlpine+0.733
1018Lance StrollAston Martin+0.867
1163George RussellWilliams1:04.663 (Q2)
1255Carlos SainzFerrari1:04.671
133Daniel RicciardoMcLaren1:04.800
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin1:04.875
1599Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo1:04.913
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams1:05.175 (Q1)
1731Esteban OconAlpine+0.042
187Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+0.254
1947Mick SchumacherHaas+0.866
209Nikita MazepinHaas+1.017

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