Mercedes Formula 1 junior George Russell took a second Formula 2 pole in a row at the Red Bull Ring, reducing Lando Norris’s points lead to single digits.
Russell was a level above the rest in practice earlier on in the day, and his pole time was just 0.145s slower than Charles Leclerc’s the year before, despite F2 using a new, heavier car in 2018.
The ART Grand Prix driver had done enough for pole on his penultimate lap, but improved on his final flier by 0.033s to set a time of 1m13.451s.
Norris took second –- his best qualifying since Baku, the second round – with the points' gap down from 13 points to nine heading into tomorrow’s race with an all-British front row.
His final lap ended in the run-off at Turn 9, although the lap didn’t look like challenging Russell. He ended the session 0.2s off pole and fractionally ahead of his Carlin teammate, Sergio Sette Camara.
Russell’s ART Grand Prix stablemate Jack Aitken recovered from contact with Roy Nissany in practice, which awarded them a point and two penalty points respectively, to take fourth for his best qualifying of the season before.
Arjun Maini’s Trident team were rewarded for changing his engine between practice and qualifying with his best starting slot of the season, after problems were identified with the unit he used in Paul Ricard where he issued an emotional radio message in the cooldown laps.
Maxi Gunther was the third driver in a row on the grid to score his best qualifying result this season in sixth for Arden, ahead of Louis Deletraz’s Charouz Racing System-run car.
Alexander Albon hadn’t qualified outside of the top three so far this season, but a wide moment at Turn 4 on his first flying lap stunted his forward progress. He took eighth ahead of the usually further forward Prema-run car of Nyck de Vries.
Tadasuke Makino rounded out the top 10 for Russian Time, while his teammate Artem Markelov could only manage 18th on the grid.
He was ahead of birthday boy Nicholas Latifi – who was the star of last year's feature race, driving through the field to challenge eventual winner Leclerc for victory – and Nissany.