(Spielberg Bei Knittelfeld) Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen stood out again on Saturday morning, which will allow him to start from the lead position in the sprint race which will take place later today. today at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The leader in the drivers’ championship, who was already guaranteed to start from the first place on the starting grid at the traditional Grand Prix on Sunday, slashed 49 hundredths of a second from the time of his teammate at Red Bull Sergio Perez.

Lando Norris, driving his McLaren, followed in third place by 57 hundredths of a second. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) recorded the fourth fastest time, ahead of Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc, in order.

The Monegasque, however, learned from the marshals shortly after the end of the session that he will receive a penalty of three places on the starting grid of the sprint race, which means that he will therefore start ninth.

As a result, Aston Martin drivers Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll have been promoted one place each and will now start from sixth and seventh rows respectively.

“It went well, the track was drying out,” Verstappen said. We did well. We managed to get our car into the correct window. »

The shortened qualifying format — known in F1 as the ‘sprint shootout’ — has set the stage for a 17-lap sprint race later today.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will start from 18th after being left out of the qualifying process in the first segment. The Mercedes driver looked preoccupied as he walked through the paddocks towards his team’s garages.

Leclerc narrowly advanced to Q2 as Mercedes’ nightmare day continued. Mechanics worked tirelessly on the steering of George Russell’s single-seater due to a hydraulic problem, but were never able to fix it in time for it to hit the track. He will start from 15th place in the sprint race, provided his car is ready in time.

The Austrian Grand Prix is ​​the second stage contested according to the sprint formula this season. The winner will earn eight points, the second will get seven, and one point less will be awarded to each of the following drivers up to the eighth rung.

Perez won the first sprint race in Azerbaijan, while his teammate finished third.

Verstappen will start ahead of Leclerc and Sainz Jr. in order on Sunday. Stroll will then start from sixth position, ahead of Alonso, seventh.