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Max Verstappen on Austria pole ahead of Norris and Russell

Verstappen said the team had made changes to the car since the sprint and it was a joy to drive.

The Dutchman, for whom it was a first pole since the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix four races ago, said: “The whole session went really well. The car was in a better window and I could push a bit more and it was very enjoyable. Every lap I did was feeling good.

“It’s been a while since we were on pole, and a while since I felt like this in the car, and it’s great. The team has been working hard to make the car more competitive and it’s a good statement.”

The Red Bull Ring provides one of the shortest laps of the season and, in percentage terms, Verstappen’s gap to Norris was his largest over the second-placed driver all season, underlining the qualify of his and Red Bull’s performance.

Norris said: “It was as much as we could do. Max was in a league of his own. [He had] more than what we had. Tricky conditions. More difficult to get laps in than yesterday.”

The 24-year-old said Red Bull had “made a good step and were a lot quicker than they were” in qualifying for the sprint race on Friday and that McLaren would “need something extra to go our way to beat the pace of Max and Red Bull” in Sunday’s grand prix.

“It’s a long race and many things can happen,” Norris said. “Normally, we are better in the race than qualifying so let’s see.”

Verstappen said: “It’s always nice to race. Hopefully it will be a tight battle again but I am not thinking too much about that. I am just thinking about how the car was performing today and hopefully it will translate into race pace.”

Russell said: “The car is feeling great at the moment. The team have worked really hard bringing these upgrades. We are still a little bit behind McLaren. And Max and Red Bull were flying today.”

Hamilton, just 0.063secs behind Russell but two places further back on the grid, said: “For some reason I had quite a lot of understeer and couldn’t add much wing.

“All these guys are so quick. It’s very close between us all. I’m relatively happy with my lap. The middle sector was not as good as I would have liked – Turn Three and Four, lost a bit of time there.

“If I had got those two perfect would probably have been in the top three but it’s very hard to get a lap.

“We can fight the Ferraris tomorrow but I don’t know if we can fight the McLarens. We’ll have to see.”

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