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Verstappen on pole at Austrian Grand Prix

Formula One leader Max Verstappen put his Red Bull on pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday with title rival Lewis Hamilton managing only fourth on the grid for Mercedes.

McLaren’s Lando Norris joined Verstappen on the front row, a sensational career best for the young Briton, with Verstappen’s Mexican team mate Sergio Perez qualifying in third place at the scenic Red Bull Ring.

The pole was Verstappen’s third in a row and set him up perfectly for a hat-trick of wins after winning the Styrian Grand Prix last Sunday and the French race the previous weekend.

The 23-year-old is 18 points clear of seven-times world champion Hamilton after eight races, with Red Bull chasing a fifth successive victory to pull further ahead in both championships.

Verstappen’s pole lap of one minute 3.720 seconds was only 0.048 faster than Norris’s effort, Mercedes-powered McLaren’s first front row since 2012.

“I think Q3 was pretty bad. I’m of course happy to be first but not the way we got it,” Verstappen said of the tight margin. “Something to look into, but nevertheless to be twice on pole here is very good.

“Hopefully we can finish if off tomorrow.”

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas will line up fifth, with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda sixth and seventh for AlphaTauri.

Sebastian Vettel qualified eighth for Aston Martin but was summoned to stewards for blocking Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, with George Russell an impressive ninth on merit for struggling Williams.

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