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Verstappen on pole for Austrian sprint race

Three-time world champion Max Verstappen thrilled his enthusiastic supporters on Friday by securing pole position for Saturday’s sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix. Racing on his team’s Red Bull Ring circuit, Verstappen set the fastest lap time of one minute and 4.686 seconds, edging out McLaren’s Lando Norris by 0.093 seconds in hot weather conditions.

Behind them, Oscar Piastri of McLaren took third place, followed by George Russell of Mercedes, Carlos Sainz of Ferrari, and a disappointing Lewis Hamilton in sixth place for Mercedes. Sergio Perez, also of Red Bull, finished seventh ahead of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly of Alpine.

“It’s great to be in first place here in front of all my home fans and at our home Grand Prix,” said the 26-year-old Dutch driver. “It’s been a positive day so far and the car feels good. We only needed a few adjustments, so everything is going well. I’m feeling relaxed and not worried about anything. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

In the final minutes of qualifying, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc encountered issues in the pit lane, preventing him from starting his flying lap on time, which relegated him to tenth place on the grid.

With temperatures reaching 28 degrees Celsius and rain threatening, the session saw Hamilton initially lead out on track, followed by Yuki Tsunoda and Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton faced challenges with a slide at Turn One and an off-track excursion at Turn Six during his first lap.

Despite a disallowed lap time for exceeding track limits and starting on medium tires, Hamilton managed to qualify in 13th place after a tense session where Verstappen retained his dominance ahead of Russell.

Verstappen continued his strong form into the top ten shootout, securing his eighth career sprint pole position and second consecutive one, outpacing both McLarens and securing a front-row start in front of his passionate fans, known as the ‘orange army’.

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