Max Verstappen won the sprint at the Red Bull Ring circuit on Saturday to secure pole for the Austrian Grand Prix and extend his lead in the world championship.
Starting from the front of the grid the world champion comfortably held off the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to turn the air orange as his army of Dutch fans set off flares in celebration.
“It was great to see the fans - a lot of smoke at the end!" Verstappen said, after doing a lap of honour in a Red Bull buggy.
As well as claiming pole in Sunday’s 11th race of the season, Verstappen also added eight points to his drivers standings account.
“The car is good, just a few things to fine-tune but overall we are really competitive again this weekend," he added.
Leclerc, who starts on the front row, is counting on a good start on Sunday “to put a bit more pressure on Max".
George Russell for Mercedes took fourth ahead of Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez who made his way through much of the field after starting in 13th.
Esteban Ocon for Alpine and Kevin Magnussen were in sixth and seventh with Lewis Hamilton picking up the final point on offer in eighth.
Both Hamilton and Russell were only taking part after their mechanics had worked flat to the boards to repair their cars after both crashed in qualifying.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 9, 2022
There was drama at the start when first Fernando Alonso’s Alpine refused to budge when the formation lap began with the double world champion’s race over before it had begun.
Then as the pack formed for lights out Zhou Guanyu had an issue at the back. “The engine switched off guys," the Alfa Romeo driver reported. the field were sent on a second formation lap.
Verstappen held off the Ferraris at the first corner to enjoy a smooth win, his third on the trot at the circuit in the Styrian mountains after taking both grand prix staged in Spielberg.
He beat Leclerc as well in the first sprint of the season in Imola, and he will be hoping he can, as in Italy, also go on to win the grand prix 24 hours later.
While he encountered little trouble over the 100km dash, winning by 1.675 seconds, there was plenty going on behind him.
Hamilton was kept frustrated for far longer than he appreciated by Mick Schumacher’s Haas, with the German later reporting that while his battle with the seven time world champion had been “fun" he would have preferred to have been freed by his team to pass Magnussen.
Going into Sunday’s race Verstappen leads Perez by 38 points with Leclerc 44 points behind in third