Verstappen will start from third on the grid at the Red Bull Ring after finishing half a second behind the duo of Mercedes Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, a seismic gap around the shortest track on the calendar in terms of lap time.
But the race may not yet have arrived at Verstappen, who will be the only driver in the top 10 from the average compound tire compared to the soft riders around him.
“I’m happy to be P3,” said Verstappen. “But we also have a different starting tire, so it’s going to be interesting, and it’s going to be a little warmer tomorrow, so I hope it will play to our advantage. ”
The race took place in sweltering conditions last season when Verstappen triumphed on newer tires later than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with the heat severely affecting Mercedes.
“Last year we were still a bit behind in qualifying, so I expect to be a little bit better in the race,” added Verstappen.
“I’m the only one on a different tire in the top 10, I’m looking forward to having it, we have nothing to lose. I will try to make things as difficult as possible for them.
Team director Christian Horner is also feeling the tire battle and time could be playing in the hands of Red Bull.
“Mercedes gave a dominant performance today, but it was also a positive start for us, with the qualification of Max in P3 and Alex [Albon] in P5, “said Horner.
“We made a courageous strategic decision, Max being the only driver in the top 10 to start on the medium tire, which gives us many strategic options for the race.
“Temperatures are also expected to rise tomorrow, which helped us win last year, which gives us the confidence to lead the fight against Mercedes. ”
Before you leave…
Hamilton faces grid penalty in Austria
“We are in a league apart” – Bottas salutes Mercedes after the Austrian pole