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Max Verstappen

How Verstappen overcome scare to shade Norris

Max Verstappen shaded out Lando Norris for sprint race pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen Norris Qualifying Spain
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

The big question heading into the Austrian Grand Prix was who currently has the fastest car in Formula 1. 

For two years that has undeniably been Max Verstappen and Red Bull, but that tag has come under increasing threat from the McLaren of Lando Norris.

The Briton should arguably have won in Canada, and he had the opportunity to do so in last weekend's Spanish GP after claiming pole position, only to let that slip through his grasp. 

For the Austrian sprint race at the Red Bull Ring, Norris missed out on pole by just 0.093s. Such a narrow margin on a short circuit was to be expected, so where did Verstappen edge out his main rival?

Verstappen vs Norris

Firstly, Verstappen had to overcome a scare in free practice, when the car ground to a halt on the pit-straight. 

"It was a sensor problem," boss Christian Horner explained to select media, including RacingNews365

"We were lucky that he came to a stop on [the] start-finish [straight], right by an opening in the pit wall. 

"That way we managed to get the car back and then it was a matter of resetting the sensor and moving on again.

"It was lucky for us because it would have been a bit disastrous if we had lost track time here in this way, especially during a sprint weekend."

Only a few minutes of track time were lost overall under red-flag conditions before Verstappen went on to top the only practice session. 

In sprint qualifying, he was faster than Norris in both sectors one and three, but in sector two, the heart of the lap from the braking zone of Turn 3 to the left kink of Turn 7, Norris shaded Verstappen by 0.019s.

Sectors one and three are both high-speed blasts with sector two the more technical 'heart' of the lap, which is a good sign for McLaren. 

The usual free practice long runs were unable to be completed in the 60 minutes of practice, meaning the sprint will be an interesting case study in tyre degradation.

Verstappen vs Norris - Austria sprint qualifying

Driver S1 S2 S3 Lap-time
Verstppen 16.332 28.950 19.404 1:04.686
Norris 16.392 28.931 19.456 1:04.779
+0.060 -0.019 +0.052 +0.093

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