Verstappen shades McLaren's Norris to claim pole in Austria

Spielberg (Austria) (AFP) –


Red Bull's world championship leader Max Verstappen will start on pole for the Austrian Grand Prix after edging out Lando Norris for McLaren in qualifying on Saturday.

Verstappen's third pole in a row puts him in a strong position to stretch his 18 point lead over Lewis Hamilton in Sunday's ninth race of the Formula one season.

"Hopefully we can finish it off tomorrow," said the 23-year-old, who was cheered on by a sea of Dutch fans at the first Grand Prix weekend to welcome back a capacity crowd since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dutch driver's teammate Sergio Perez will start on the second row alongside Hamilton's Mercedes at the Red Bull-owned Spielberg circuit.

Verstappen topped the time sheets in Q1 and Q2, and then nailed the prime seat in the grid with a flying lap of 1min 03.720sec in Q3.

Norris was only denied his maiden pole by 0.048sec, the talented 21-year-old British driver's performance the latest sign of his team's resurgence.

"I feel epic, this is cool! That was probably one of the best laps I have done, it puts us in a great position for tomorrow," said Lando.