Verstappen ‘super happy’ but expects ‘very tight’ race battle

Max Verstappen was delighted to be able to claim pole position for Red Bull at the first of two back-to-back home races taking place in Spielberg, Austria.

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It’s the first time that Red Bull have successfully taken the top spot at the Red Bull Ring, with Mercedes having been on pole on all but two races at the venue since 2014.

“I’m super happy to be on pole here at home, it’s nice to see a Red Bull car first,” said Verstappen after securing the position at the front of the grid for tomorrow’s Styrian Grand Prix.

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Verstappen’s best time of the final top ten pole shoot-out round was 1:03.841s, which he was unable ti improve upon with his final run.

“That first lap in Q3 it was good enough at the end,” he agreed when talking with the media in parc ferme immediately after the end of the session.

“In qualifying, the car was really good to drive,” he continued. “It was not easy to deal with the traffic in the last few corners to get a clean run [but] I had a good first sector.

“When you look at the track, you think there are not that many corners. But actually, the corners you have on the track are quite difficult,” he pointed out.

“Even in turn one, braking for two and three, the crest then braking downhill into four,” he added. “It’s definitely a small track, but it’s really hard to get a good lap out of it.

“It’s never easy,” he told Sky Sports F1. “I wish sometimes it was easy, but at the end that’s good for racing.”

Verstappen finished the session with a 0.194s advantage over Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. But the Finn has a three place grid penalty that will drop him down to fifth for the start of tomorrow’s race.

Taking his place on the front row will be his team mate Lewis Hamilton, who is currently 12 points behind Verstappen in the drivers championship.

Although Red Bull appear to have the advantage in terms of pace over Mercedes going into the race, Verstappen is expecting another titanic struggle with his title rival on Sunday.

“I’m sure again that tomorrow will be very tight,” he said. “Hopefully it will be as interesting as France.”

Both Verstappen and Hamilton will be starting the race on the preferred medium tyres, while those on the second row of the grid – McLaren’s Lando Norris and Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez – will be on the faster but less durable soft compound.

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