Norris grabs 'epic' second place with Verstappen on pole again

By Sports Desk July 03, 2021

Lando Norris described his "epic" second place in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix as one of the best laps he has driven in Formula One.

McLaren are back on the front row for the first time since 2012 after Norris incredibly finished just 0.048 seconds behind Max Verstappen, marginally missing out on a historic pole.

Verstappen became the first F1 driver to win three times at the Red Bull Ring as he beat Lewis Hamilton to victory last time out.

Having also won in France, the Dutchman looks well placed to make it a treble.

He was boosted as his team-mate Sergio Perez qualified third, meaning the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were left in fourth and fifth respectively.

George Russell – reportedly in the running to drive for the German team next year – took a brilliant ninth for Williams on a day of surprises.

Verstappen – unhappy with his team for the position he was put out in the running order in Q3 – could not improve in his second run, giving surprise challenger Norris the chance to come agonisingly close to pole.

But Verstappen has shown impressive form this weekend and it continued with another strong result, even if Norris was understandably attracting the attention after Saturday's session.

"I feel epic!" Norris said to Sky Sports. "It's one of the best laps I've done – I'm really happy with P2, my best qualifying in Formula One.

"One of my best laps in Formula One. It's a good feeling, so I'm looking forward to Sunday.

"It feels pretty cool. After the last race I wanted to take one more step [after qualifying fourth] – but we went two more! 

"It's nice to be in a good position for Sunday. I don't know how far I was off pole, bit gutted I didn't get pole – Sunday will be tough but we did the best job we could."

 

After a third straight pole and his fourth overall in 2021, Verstappen warned victory would not come easily as he looks to extend his 18-point lead in the drivers' standings.

"I think Q3 was pretty bad. Of course I'm happy to be first but not the way we got it," he said.

"Pole again is good. Hopefully we can finish it off on Sunday – it is never straightforward though.

"Softer compounds compared to last week, so it will be tough to manage those in the race but aside from that, we'll just try to focus on our own race and of course, we'll try to win it."

Both Ferraris and Fernando Alonso – who was angry at being held up by Sebastian Vettel in an incident that could result in a grid penalty – all missed out on progression from Q2.

It meant Yuki Tsunoda and Vettel were able to claim seventh and eighth, with Lance Stroll taking the last spot in the top 10 behind the impressive Russell.

Perez claimed third for Red Bull having initially looked poised to start further down the order after his first Q3 run.

"It's been a hard weekend up to now," the Mexican explained. "We have been chasing the balance and just exploring the car.

"It didn't come easy. It was very hard work – harder than you think.

"In the end we got a good lap and we have a good position. I believe we have got a better race car than qualifying."

Six consecutive top-five finishes have put Perez third in the championship prior to the ninth race of the campaign, with Norris fourth in the standings ahead of Bottas and Charles Leclerc.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:03.720
2. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.048s
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.270s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.294s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.329s
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.387s
7. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +0.553s
8. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +0.850s
9. George Russell (Williams) +0.871s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +0.898s

Related items

  • Russian GP: Verstappen takes grid penalty after Red Bull engine change Russian GP: Verstappen takes grid penalty after Red Bull engine change

    Max Verstappen faces a battle to retain his lead in the Formula One world championship standings after being relegated to the back of the grid for the Russian Grand Prix.

    Red Bull have opted to install a fourth engine of the season in the Dutchman's car ahead of the race at the Sochi circuit, meaning Verstappen must take a grid penalty.

    Verstappen, who leads reigning champion Lewis Hamilton by just five points, had a three-place grid sanction hanging over him following his part in a collision with his Mercedes rival in Italy.

    The news is a reprieve for Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who had been demoted to the rear of the grid after the Scuderia chose to debut a new power unit this weekend.

    Verstappen finished second in Russia last year, when Valtteri Bottas took the honours and team-mate Hamilton was third.

    The 23-year-old has claimed seven race wins this season, with Hamilton on four.

  • I'm so nervous I can barely sleep! – Verstappen's sarcastic response to Hamilton's 'pressure' claim I'm so nervous I can barely sleep! – Verstappen's sarcastic response to Hamilton's 'pressure' claim

    Max Verstappen joked he "can barely sleep" after Lewis Hamilton suggested his title rival might be feeling the pressure as he fights for a maiden world championship crown.

    Red Bull driver Verstappen leads Hamilton by five points ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix, where he will serve a three-place grid penalty after colliding with the Mercedes man at Monza two weeks ago.

    This is the closest the top two have been after 14 races since the 2016 battle between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg (two points).

    While Verstappen is seeking his first title in what is his seventh season in Formula One, Hamilton has finished top on seven occasions, the first of those triumphs coming in 2008.

    The Briton was involved in a tense battle while with McLaren the previous year and, reflecting on that experience, believes he knows exactly what Verstappen is feeling right now.

    "Obviously he won't admit to it, and I'm not going to make an assumption, but I'm just saying I remember what it was like battling for my first championship," he said on Thursday.

    "The pressure definitely mounted up. It was difficult. It was intense. I was going through a lot of different emotions and I didn't always handle it the best and that's to be expected.

    "I know the pressure that comes with it and the experiences, so I can empathise with that.

    "I do believe that he will continue to get stronger, and I'm hopeful we won't have any more incidences like last time through the rest of the year.

    "I never expect a driver to back down. What's important is that we just continue to race hard and fair, and I have no doubts that we will both be professional and learn from the past."

     

    However, when those comments were relayed back to championship leader Verstappen, the Dutchman offered a sarcastic response.

    "I'm so nervous I can barely sleep. It's so horrible to fight for a title. I really hate it," he said.

    "Those comments just show that he really doesn't know me. Which is fine. I also don't need to know him.

    "I just focus on myself and I really enjoy it out there at the front, and hopefully we can do that for a very long time.

    "I am very chilled. It is the best feeling ever to have a car, a great car, where you can go into every weekend and you can fight for a win."

    Mercedes have triumphed at Monza every year since 2014 – no team has won more races at a single grand prix without failing – and Hamilton has the chance to reclaim the title lead should that be the case again this weekend.

    "It's very, very important, as important as it can be," Hamilton said. 

  • Mick Schumacher retains Haas seat for 2022 F1 season Mick Schumacher retains Haas seat for 2022 F1 season

    Mick Schumacher has retained his seat with Haas for the 2022 Formula One season.

    The 22-year-old and fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin will both be retained after impressing team principal Guenther Steiner.

    Schumacher, son of F1 legend Michael, and Mazepin moved to the American outfit from Formula Two ahead of this season.

    "We knew we wanted continuity behind the wheel in 2022 and I'm happy to confirm exactly that with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin competing for Uralkali Haas F1 team next year," said Steiner. "2021 has afforded both drivers the opportunity to learn Formula 1 – and as rookies – they've done a lot of that this year.

    "It's been a tough season for sure with the package we've had, but at the same time they've both embraced the challenge and worked closely with the team to learn our processes and adapt to the rigours of a Formula One campaign and all that brings – both internally and externally."

    Before stepping up to the big time, Schumacher won the F3 European Championship and Formula Two titles.

    He and Mazepin are yet to score a point in 2021 but Schumacher is revelling in the experience.

    "By being part of the Formula One field, I am living my dream," he said. "The first year together with Haas F1 is very exciting and instructive, and I'm sure I can bring all the experience I've gained into the coming year."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.