Sir Lewis Hamilton has work to do to get himself to the front both in this race and in the seasons standings, with the Mercedes driver starting in fourth at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Max Verstappen has an 18-point lead heading into the ninth race of the season at the Red Bull Ring and starts in pole, after finishing just 0.048 seconds clear of Lando Norris in qualifying – with the 21-year-old McLaren driver taking his highest-ever placing on the start grid with that second place.
Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, is on third ahead of Hamilton, whose own team-mate Valtteri Bottas starts sixth.
Hamilton isn’t expecting to pass the chequered flag in first place and sounded pessimistic about closing the gap to Verstappen, suggesting he’ll have an “easy” time of things in Austria.
“Is a win out of the question? I would say so,” Hamilton said. “In terms of pure pace, it is definitely out of the question. It will be an easy cruise win for Max. I have to get ahead of at least Perez and try to limit the damage. It will be even more of a challenge than it was last week. We have tried everything to get more out of the car but we continue to lack pace. We have really got to find performance in the following races.” Follow the build-up and race at the Austrian Grand Prix here:
Lando Norris starts in second
There has perhaps not been a more impressive driver than Lando Norris at the start of this season, with yesterday’s qualifying session showing as much.
He is second on the grid for the first time in his career and came very close to claiming a maiden pole position.
Norris has three podium finishes in his F1 career so far – is he closing in on a first-ever victory?
One week ago: Verstappen wins Styrian Grand Prix
Back-to-back races for F1 at the Red Bull Ring, with Max Verstappen beating Mercedes duo Hamilton and Bottas, who finished second and third respectively.
Here’s the story of that race at this track, just one week ago.
Max Verstappen moves 18 points clear of Lewis Hamilton with victory at Styrian Grand Prix
The Dutchman converted pole position into his fourth win of the season
Hamilton predicts “easy cruise” for Verstappen in Austria
“In terms of pure pace, a win is definitely out of the question. It will be an easy cruise win for Max. I have to get ahead of at least Perez and try to limit the damage.
“It will be even more of a challenge than it was last week.
“We have tried everything to get more out of the car but we continue to lack pace. We have really got to find performance in the following races.”
Starting grid for Austrian Grand Prix
1. Max Verstappen 1’03.720 Red Bull
2. Lando Norris 1’03.768 McLaren
3. Sergio Perez 1’03.990 Red Bull
4. Lewis Hamilton 1’04.014 Mercedes
5. Valtteri Bottas 1’04.049 Mercedes
6. Pierre Gasly 1’04.107 AlphaTauri
7. Yuki Tsunoda 1’04.273 AlphaTauri
8. George Russell 1’04.591 Williams
9. Lance Stroll 1’04.618 Aston Martin
10. Carlos Sainz Jnr 1’04.559 Ferrari
11. Sebastian Vettel 1’04.570 Aston Martin
12. Charles Leclerc 1’04.600 Ferrari
13. Daniel Ricciardo 1’04.719 McLaren
14. Fernando Alonso 1’04.856 Alpine
15. Antonio Giovinazzi 1’05.083 Alfa Romeo
16. Kimi Raikkonen 1’05.009 Alfa Romeo
17. Esteban Ocon 1’05.051 Alpine
18. Nicholas Latifi 1’05.195 Williams
19. Mick Schumacher 1’05.427 Haas
20. Nikita Mazepin 1’05.951 Haas
New contract for Lewis Hamilton with Mercedes
There will be no repeat of talks dragging on for months as they did last year – Hamilton is signed up with Mercedes for another two years. The seven-time world champion’s contract with the Silver Arrows was due to expire at the end of the season.
How much will he earn? Could he have gone elsewhere? Who will his team-mate be next year? Find out everything right here.
The key questions about Lewis Hamilton’s new Mercedes contract
How was it resolved so quickly, how much will he earn and will it be his last contract?
Austrian Grand Prix live at the Red Bull Ring
The ninth race of the Formula One season is fast approaching and there’s a big job on for Lewis Hamilton if he doesn’t want Max Verstappen to extend his lead at the top of the standings. The Red Bull racer has an 18-point lead ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix and starts on pole position – with Hamilton down in fourth.
Verstappen won in France and a week ago here in Styria to take the past two races, giving him four victories in all this season – and he’s favoured to make it an Austrian double this time out, at the same track as he was celebrating last time out.
All eyes remain on Lando Norris, too, after he secured a career-best second place on the grid for Sunday.
It’s Verstappen who leads the way, though, and he’ll be hard to stop on the evidence of the weekend so far.
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