Verstappen on pole for Syrian GP with Hamilton promoted to second on grid after Bottas penalty

TITLE leader Max Verstappen picked up his second successive pole – but world champ Lewis was promoted to second on the grid.

Red Bull's championship leader Verstappen finished 0.194 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas – but the Mercedes driver was penalised for a bizarre pit-lane spin, so team-mate Hamilton stepped up to the front row.

Lando Norris continued his fine season by grabbing fourth for McLaren and will profit from Bottas' penalty by moving up to third.

Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez finished fifth for a Red Bull team who have won the past three rounds.

And they are primed to win their fourth in succession as Verstappen claimed the sixth pole of his career.

The Mercedes driver is now on a run of four races without adding to the century of poles he scored at last month's Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton, 36, failed to improve with his final run following a poor lap. The British driver came on the radio to apologise to his Mercedes team.

For Verstappen, who is a dozen points ahead of Hamilton, there were no such concerns as he cruised to the front spot.

"It has been a very good weekend," said Verstappen, 23, who completed a practice double at the Red Bull Ring on Friday.

"Again in qualifying the car was good to drive. It is not easy to deal with the traffic to get a clean run but the first lap in Q3 was good enough in the end.

"I am super happy to be on pole at Red Bull's home race. It will be very tight tomorrow. It is never easy and hopefully it will be as interesting as it was last weekend in France."

Hamilton, 36, added: "Well done to Max. They have been so fast this weekend. It wasn't the greatest of sessions but we are on the front row.

"I did everything I could and I go into tomorrow's race up for the fight. Max has had a quarter of a second on us all weekend so it will be interesting to see if we can manage it. I don't think we have the raw pace to overtake them."

Verstappen added: "It's been a very good weekend. The car was really good.

"It's not easy with the traffic to try and get a clean run in the last few corners but I think that first lap in Q3 was good enough.

"Super happy to be on pole at home, it's always nice to see a Red Bull car on pole here.

"It's never easy but it's good for racing. I'm sure tomorrow will be very tough."

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