London: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has won the inaugural F1 Sprint at the iconic Silverstone circuit, earning himself three points and pole position for Sunday’s British Grand Prix, as he triumphed over the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
With all of the top 10 starting the 17-lap F1 Sprint on medium tyres bar the Mercedes of Bottas on used softs, Verstappen was incisive off the start from second on the grid, out-dragging the Mercedes of Hamilton – who’d started P1 – into Abbey, despite flames having been spotted licking from his front-left wheel on the grid.
Fans were then treated to a thrilling opening lap, with Verstappen resisting the attempts of Hamilton – including an audacious attempt to go around the outside of the Red Bull at Copse – while Fernando Alonso impressively used his soft starting tyres to jump from 11th to 5th, as the two Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin touched in the Village complex, with Mazepin spinning.
Qualifying hero George Russell also made contact on Lap 1 with the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, Sainz coming off worse as he fell to P18 – with the incident to be investigated after the session by the stewards.
As the drivers settled down, Verstappen was able to eke the gap over Hamilton, who complained of not having an answer to the Dutchman’s pace, with both cars developing blisters on their medium tyres.
Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez found himself in bother, however, as he got on the throttle too early out of Chapel and spun his Red Bull on Lap 5, falling down to P18 – with the Mexican eventually retired before the end.
Hamilton had asked his race engineer Pete Bonnington for more power from his Mercedes W12. But ultimately as the laps ticked quickly down, Verstappen was able to open the gap up on his title rival to take the F1 Sprint win by 1.4s from Hamilton, and claim pole for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix.
Behind, despite running the softs, Bottas was able to hold onto P3 from the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, with the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo earning fifth and sixth, having demoted the fast-starting Alonso to P7.
Sebastian Vettel claimed P8, having narrowly failed to pass Alonso on the 17th and final lap, as Russell and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon rounded out the top 10.
Sainz did a fine recovery job after his Lap 1 crash, ending up P11 after a string of neat overtakes, while Pierre Gasly will line up 12th for the British Grand Prix, ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, who did well to end up 13th after starting P17.
So, after the first ever F1 Sprint, it’s Max Verstappen who claims his fifth pole of the year.
Top five finishers
1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)
2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
4 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
5 Lando Norris (McLaren)