The last round had to be interrupted twice. First Hamilton demolished his Mercedes, then Russell. In front of tens of thousands of Dutch fans, Verstappen is not deterred.

When it came down to it, Max Verstappen delivered the nerve-racking decision for pole for the Spielberg sprint race. By 29 thousandths of a second, the defending champion and world championship leader undercut Charles Leclerc’s time in the Ferrari at the knockout start on Red Bull’s home weekend.

“We have a great car,” enthused Verstappen and also praised the “incredible” scenery. Third was Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz. For record world champion Lewis Hamilton, the last round ended just under six minutes before the end: he came off the track and crashed his Mercedes sideways into the tire wall. The Silver Arrow was properly demolished. “I’m so sorry guys,” Hamilton radioed into the pits. Shortly thereafter, teammate George Russell caused the next interruption with 2:31 minutes to go and the next demolished Mercedes.

Schumacher moves up a rank

Meanwhile, Mick Schumacher was able to celebrate seventh place after Sergio Perez, who was initially fourth in the second Red Bull in the evening, was given a penalty of 13th place. Five days after his points debut from Silverstone (8th place), the 23-year-old continued his positive trend in the Haas and has justified hopes for the next points in the motorsport premier class.

For Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, the qualifying elimination ended with a bitter and early knockout: The four-time world champion was eliminated in 20th place and last in the first round. “Oh man, that hurts,” radioed the 35-year-old depressed to the pits. He had to take off his bee-look helmet early on.

Get up to eight points in the sprint race

Verstappen, on the other hand, positioned himself for victory in the sprint race this Saturday (4:30 p.m. / Sky) over 24 laps. The winner gets eight points, the eighth one more. In addition, the Austrian Grand Prix will start over 71 laps in the order in which the finish line is reached on Sunday (3 p.m. / Sky). Verstappen is at the top of the rankings with 181 points, teammate Sergio Perez is second with 147 points, Leclerc third with 138 points.

One thing quickly became clear: it’s going to be tight. The route with the mountain panorama is only 4.318 kilometers long, and the drivers race across the track in just over a minute. Leclerc set the best time in the first section, followed by Sainz after his first Grand Prix victory at Silverstone. Only then did Verstappen line up, who once again attracted tens of thousands of Dutch fans to the route in Styria. But the time for the orange Bengalos had not yet come.

Verstappen also tried in vain for the best time in the second round, this time Leclerc and Hamilton were faster. The Brit also had good prospects towards the end before his appearance in the tire barriers ended and caused a ten-minute interruption. As soon as the track was free again, Hamilton’s stable rival caused the next red flags. He also went off course and crashed his rear end into the tire barriers. When the track was clear again, Verstappen grabbed pole.