Max Verstappen put himself in a sublime position to add to his points tally by securing the pole for the Austrian GP sprint race.
The 24-year-old Dutch produced a best lap of 1:04.984 to pip the Ferrari’s of Leclerc and Sainz at the end of a nail-biting, two-minute shootout after the red-flagged session resumed at Spielberg’s scenic Red Bull Ring.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Geroge Russell both spun off into the tire barriers bringing out the red flags before the decisive final phase of qualifying.
Already on provisional pole, Verstappen then fended off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by just 0.029 seconds while the Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who took his first Formula One win less than a week ago at Silverstone, put his Ferrari third with the top three separated by just 0.082.
Verstappen still leads the overall standings by 34 points from teammate Sergio Perez, who qualified fourth but was demoted to 13th after his final lap times were deleted for exceeding track limits in the second phase.
If the punishment had been dealt earlier, Perez would not have made it through to the final phase at the expense of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who now moves up to 10th.
Esteban Ocon moved up to fifth for Alpine ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher while Fernando Alonso in the other Alpine will start eighth.
McLaren endured another nightmare with Australian Daniel Ricciardo knocked out in the opening phase his teammate Lando Norris going out in the second part of the hour-long session.
The Briton will start 15th with Ricciardo 16th.
Neither Sebastian Vettel nor Lance Stroll made making it past the first phase for the third weekend in a row for Aston Martin.
The Austrian GP Sprint race will decide the grid for Sunday.
There will also be a maximum of 34 drivers’ points on offer from the weekend, compared to the usual 26, with the winner of the sprint scoring eight.