Motor racing-Norris savours rare moment of being fastest Brit on F1 grid

·2-min read
Austrian Grand Prix

(Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton has a record 100 Formula One poles and Lando Norris none, which made qualifying on the front row for the Austrian Grand Prix all the more special for the younger Briton on Saturday.

McLaren's Norris was a career best second in qualifying behind Red Bull's Formula One leader Max Verstappen, with Mercedes' seven times world champion Hamilton fourth fastest.

"It's one of the first times to be the top Briton in qualifying, so it's a cool feeling," the 21-year-old told reporters.

With George Russell the only other Briton on the grid with struggling Williams, who have not scored a point for two years, Hamilton would normally expect to be his country's fastest qualifier.

Norris caught an aerodynamic 'tow' from Verstappen on track ahead of him in the final phase but made the McLaren, with a Mercedes engine, look impressively quick compared to Hamilton's car.

The youngster, who was faster than Verstappen up to the last corner, was not about to be carried away with the excitement, however.

"The Red Bull is still much quicker than us. It's just a fact. They're better," he said.

"Max pretty much did his time at the end in completely clean air. A decent amount of lap time comes from having a slipstream and putting yourself in the right position."

On a headline day for English sport, with England playing Ukraine in the Euro 2020 soccer quarter-finals and teenager Emma Raducanu reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon on her Grand Slam debut, Norris was happy to also attract some attention.

He hoped there would be more on Sunday, however.

"If it is a headline, I'd prefer it to be in the race and not so much qualifying," he said.

Norris, who has raised his game to a new level this season, has finished seven of the eight races so far in the top five and scored points in the last 13.

Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo, in contrast, qualified 13th as his season of struggle continued following a move from Renault, now Alpine.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; editing by Ken Ferris)

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