World Championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull claimed pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix on Saturday as Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas complained of getting “screwed over”.
Bottas was second quickest but dropped to fifth on the grid because of a three-place penalty imposed on Friday, leaving teammate Lewis Hamilton to start on the front row with Verstappen.
“It has been a very good weekend,” said Verstappen.
“The car was very good to drive in qualifying. It was not easy to deal with the traffic, the fifth lap in Q3 was good enough in the end. Super happy to be on pole here at home. It’s always nice to see a Red Bull car first here.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris produced the performance of the day, pushing the front runners all the way and finishing fourth, meaning he will start from third.
Norris was followed by the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez and the Alpha Tauris of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda who were split by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari in seventh.
Fernando Alonso in the Alpine and Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin rounded out the top 10 with George Russell just missing out in his Williams.
Tsunoda, however, was later given a three-place penalty for impeding Bottas, moving Russell up to the fifth row.
Verstappen had been the standout performer in practice on Friday and looked in supreme control as he claimed his third pole position of the season, clocking a fastest time of 1min 3.841secs.
Bottas made a late dart and finished 0.194secs behind Verstappen.
The Finn, however, was penalised on Friday for “dangerous driving” after spinning in the pit lane and will start from fifth on the third row of the grid.
“My personal view (is) it’s quite harsh,” said a disgruntled Bottas after qualifying.
“I never imagined... there would be a penalty. But of course other teams, when there’s an opportunity they complain that it’s dangerous, etcetera, so we get penalised. That’s how it goes. Everyone’s trying to screw you over in this sport. For sure, it can be a dangerous situation if there’s many people in the pit lane but no.”
That penalty opened the door for his teammate Lewis Hamilton to keep up the pressure on Verstappen who leads him by just 12 points after seven rounds of the championship.
Hamilton, who topped Saturday morning’s third and final practice, was 0.2sec behind Verstappen and banked on a blistering final lap.
But the Briton struggled to challenge the pace of the Dutchman and when he ran wide at turn nine, he has to cede pole to his rival.
“They (Red Bull) have been so fast this weekend, been giving it absolutely everything,” said Hamilton.
“It wasn’t the greatest of sessions but still on the front row after the penalty. I did everything I could and we go into the race tomorrow for a fight.”
Daniel Ricciardo, in the McLaren, and former world champion Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin both failed to qualify for Q3 and were outperformed by Russell who missed out in his Williams on a place in Q3 by just 0.008secs.
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