Max Verstappen takes sprint pole in Austria with Lewis Hamilton lowly 18th

Max Verstappen will start on pole for both of this weekend’s races (Darko Bandic/AP)
Max Verstappen will start on pole for both of this weekend’s races (Darko Bandic/AP) Max Verstappen will start on pole for both of this weekend’s races (Darko Bandic/AP)

Lewis Hamilton will start today’s sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix from a lowly 18th as Max Verstappen took pole position.

Defending champion Verstappen raced to top spot for the second day in succession following his qualifying triumph for Sunday’s 71-lap Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez joins team-mate Verstappen on the front row for today’s 23-lap dash round the Red Bull Ring, with McLaren’s Lando Norris an impressive third.

Norris, who finished nearly six tenths back from Verstappen, lines up one place ahead of Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg.

The winner of today’s race will be awarded eight points, but the result has no bearing on Sunday’s main event.

Hamilton was eliminated in the opening phase after he had three laps deleted for exceeding track limits.

“That was really bad time usage,” said Hamilton over the radio. “Am I out?”

“Yes we are,” replied his race engineer Pete Bonnington.

Hamilton had been leading the way in Q1 before he had a hat-trick of laps chalked off by race director Niels Wittich for running all four wheels of his Mercedes over the white line at the final bend.

Hamilton tumbled down the order and was knocked out at the first hurdle of qualifying for only the second time in the last six years.

In Friday’s qualifying session, which determined the grid for Sunday’s main event, Verstappen said Wittich made the drivers look like “amateurs” with his over-zealous refereeing.

But Wittich did not hold back in the second qualifying running of the weekend, with Hamilton not the only driver penalised. Verstappen also had multiple laps scrubbed off.

Following his early exit, Hamilton said: “It is for a sprint race so it does not really matter.

“I wish I was still out there. But there is nothing really to say. We focus on what we can do and we could easily have been much further up. Today I will have some fun from the back.”

Hamilton was soon followed out of qualifying by team-mate George Russell after he suffered a hydraulic failure. Russell’s Mercedes mechanics were forced to change his steering rack meaning that he was unable to post a lap in Q2. He starts 15th.

Today’s sprint race takes place at 4:30pm local time (3:30 BST).