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F1: Max Verstappen at the start of the sprint race in Austria

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Don’t miss the sprint race of the Austrian Grand Prix, Saturday at 10am, on RDS and in our multiplex environment.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen delighted his thousands of supporters by claiming the lead in qualifying for the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix on Friday.

Verstappen scored one minute and 4,984 seconds on a hot and sunny day at the Red Bull Ring.

“A long time has passed between the two exits, and it’s never ideal with the track temperature dropping and the unpredictability of the wind here,” said Verstappen, referring to the track exits that took place.

“There aren’t many corners here, but it’s very easy to go wrong … We have a good car, even if qualifying isn’t usually our cup of tea. But I’m confident for the rest of the weekend, ”she added, to applause from the audience.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc followed in second place by 29 thousandths, while the winner of the last race, Carlos Sainz Jr., was third, 82 thousandths behind the Dutchman.

“We are all very close to each other, although I had a hard time getting the tires up to temperature due to the long break in the pits. Max was just a little bit stronger than us today, so I congratulate him, “said the Monegasque.

Verstappen’s lap could be subject to investigation by stewards, however, as all four wheels of his Red Bull appear to have gone off the track at the exit of a corner, which would result in the cancellation of his fastest lap and the leading position to Leclerc.

Followed by George Russell (Mercedes), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Mick Schumacher (Haas), Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). Sergio Perez has seen his time in Q3 and Q2 not counted, so he will have to start in 13th position.

On Saturday, Quebecer Lance Stroll will start from 17th on the grid, while Toronto’s Nicholas Latifi will start from the back row, alongside Stroll’s teammate at Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel.

“Here it is always a challenge due to the limitations of the track. Despite this, today we didn’t have the pace to reach Q2. We will try to gain some positions in tomorrow’s sprint race ”, said the Mont-Tremblant rider.

It will therefore be the second weekend of the season to be presented according to the modified format of the sprint race. The first took place at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in April, the last will take place at the Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos in November.

It was a particularly difficult day for the Mercedes team.

The third part of the qualifying session (Q3) was marked by Hamilton’s violent run off the track, after negotiating Turn 7 badly and sending his car through the gravel, against the safety barrier. The British came out unscathed, contrary to his ego.

“Sorry guys, I’m sorry I damaged the car,” the seven-time world champion told the radio.

As a result, the session was interrupted for a few minutes to allow the maintenance crews to repair the safety devices.

At the restart it was Hamilton’s teammate, Russell, who in turn lost control of his car, which crashed into a wall of tires. The session was briefly interrupted again.

Verstappen, the reigning world champion, then took the opportunity to turn solo towards the lead.

The Red Bull driver dominates the world championship with 181 points, 34 more than his teammate Perez. Leclerc is third at 138.

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