Max Verstappen wants you to know this is all harder than it looks.

Verstappen will start from pole position in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix. This is not surprising. Verstappen, the two-time Formula 1 champion, has started on pole in six of the season’s nine races. He has won six of them. Going faster than everyone else is what Max Verstappen does.

But Verstappen does not like anything, or anyone, holding him back. So he was grumbling on Friday after race officials deleted dozens of the quickest laps in qualifying because drivers had slipped outside the strictly defined racing surface. And he was grumbling again on Saturday after poor visibility saw his teammate, Sergio Pérez, briefly nudge him onto the grass during a rainy sprint race.

“I think today looked very silly,” Verstappen said of the qualifying problems on Friday. “It almost looked like we were amateurs out there, the amount of laps that were being deleted.”

“People will say, ‘You should have kept the car in the white lines,’” he added. “If it was that easy, you can take my car and try it.”

How to Watch

Time: The Austrian Grand Prix starts at 9 a.m. Eastern time. (Global start times are here.)

TV: The race will air on ESPN in the United States. Streaming is available on ESPN+. Prerace coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. Not in the United States? A full list of Formula 1 broadcasters can be found here.

Rain affected visibility in Saturday’s sprint race, so much so that Sergio Pérez, right, briefly sent Max Verstappen onto the grass to avoid a collision. The Red Bull teammates played down the incident afterward, but more showers are in the forecast Sunday.Credit…Clive Rose/Getty Images

Sunday’s Starting Grid

Verstappen, the plucky Dutch underdog, starts on pole position for the fourth straight race. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be thrilled about starting at positions 2 and 3, but not nearly as much as Lando Norris and McLaren will be about starting fourth.

Sergio Pérez’s struggles continued, however: He will start 15th after having some of his best qualifying lap times erased for failing to stay on the grid.

Race Week in Photos

The Red Bull Ring offers significant changes in elevation in the course of a lap. No stopping for photos, please.Credit…Clive Rose/Getty Images
How well do you know your drivers?Credit…Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Answers below.Credit…Vladimir Simicek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Credit…Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Credit…Peter Fox/Getty Images
That’s Lando Norris of McLaren. Above, in order: George Russell, Mercedes; Carlos Sainz, Ferrari; Sergio Pérez, Red Bull; Nyck de Vries, Alpha Tauri.Credit…Peter Fox/Getty Images
Dutch fans celebrating Verstappen’s pole (and the security guards who didn’t confiscate their orange flares).Credit…Lars Baron/Getty Images
Lando Norris: fourth on the grid but first in the autograph line.Credit…Peter Fox/Getty Images

This Week’s Story Lines

Sour grapes? When Lewis Hamilton suggested in an interview with Sky Sports this week that the sport’s leaders should change the rules to allow other teams to close the design and performance gap on Red Bull, or at the very least keep Red Bull from getting a head start on a new (and potentially even faster) car for next season, he drew a quick rebuke from Verstappen. “A lot of things in life are unfair,” Verstappen said curtly. He later noted, in his response to Sky, that Hamilton was less concerned about competitive imbalance when his Mercedes team was winning seven straight drivers’ championships.

The track. Red Bull Ring has a reputation as a fast track, with long sections built to reward straight-line speed — an area where Red Bull’s cars have had a significant advantage all year. But it also has some of the biggest elevation changes in Formula 1, and those rises and falls can affect a car’s hold on the track. Want a real-world comparison? Think about that split second when you’re riding in a car and it goes over an unexpected rise at speed. Now think about doing that at 200 miles an hour, and with a corner ahead. In the rain.

The weather Rain nearly made a mess of Saturday’s sprint race, especially at the start, and there is a chance of more in the forecast for Sunday. That will affect tire choices and pit strategies — one stop? or two? — and perhaps even the outcome.

What They’re Saying

  • “We didn’t talk about that when he was winning everything.” — Verstappen, responding to Hamilton’s suggestion that Formula 1 enact rules changes to limit Red Bull’s dominance.

  • “It feels good to finally have a clean qualifying again and be back on the front row. The feeling has been a bit better in the last few races.” — Leclerc, in position to change Ferrari’s luck.

  • “Two Red Bulls out of the way would be a good way to achieve that.” — Fernando Alonso, on what it takes to win in Formula 1 these days.

  • “I haven’t lost it, you know. You don’t go from winning races to all of a sudden being a very bad driver.” — Pérez, after he had what was for him a rarity lately — a great day — by finishing second in the sprint race on Saturday.

Last Time Out: Canadian Grand Prix

If someone stops you on the street and asks who won the Formula 1 race, your safest answer remains, “Max Verstappen.”

Season in Review

March 5: Bahrain Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen

March 19: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Winner: Sergio Pérez

April 2: Australian Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen

April 30: Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Winner: Sergio Pérez

May 7: Miami Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen

May 21: Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Winner: None. Race canceled.

May 28: Monaco Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen

June 4: Spanish Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen

June 18: Canadian Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen

Next Race

July 9: British Grand Prix, Silverstone Circuit, England.

The New York Times

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