Verstappen wins Austrian Grand Prix sprint race

Local crowd favourite Max Verstappen claimed victory in the sprint race ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc eventually holding off his Ferrari teammate for second position.

The Red Bull Racing driver needed to defend into Turn 1 and 3 against an initially strong Scuderia threat, but as Leclerc and Carlos Sainz went wheel-to-wheel, the defending champion was able to march away to a relatively smooth triumph.

The start was delayed and an extra formation lap called when Zhou Guanyu momentarily lost drive out of the final corner on his way to the grid when his engine briefly switched off.

The Alfa Romeo was able to find drive and pull away, but not before one lap had been struck off the 24.

This came after Fernando Alonso – due to line up in eighth position – required a pitlane start when his Alpine would not fire on the grid for a technical issue that the team is still to identify.

The regulations permitting that the car cannot be touched with three minutes to go meant Alonso was left on the trolley and with the tyre blankets on. Despite the possibility of a pitlane start, the two-time champion would not take part at all in the sprint race.

After the disruption, it was Leclerc who enjoyed the marginally better launch to force Verstappen to pull to the inside line and squeeze the Ferrari closer to the pit wall.

The Red Bull’s defensive work duly paid off as Verstappen swept into the Turn 1 right-hander in the lead, but a compromised line allowed third-starting Sainz to threaten.

With Leclerc battling Verstappen, Sainz was given room to dive ahead into the first corner and a strong exit enabled the Silverstone winner to move his Ferrari to the outside and attempt a pass.

He put his nose in front of Verstappen in the braking zone of Turn 3 but on the outside and off the racing line, he ran wide and then the subsequent oversteer on the less grippy asphalt allowed Leclerc to accelerate away faster and reclaim second position with a run into Turn 4.

The Ferrari battle allowed Verstappen to initially break away to the tune of half a second, an advantage the reigning champion then doubled at the end of the opening lap.

The Ferraris continued to fight, with Sainz seemingly carrying an early pace advantage to try and leapfrog Leclerc on the outside of Turn 3 into 4, with the red car appears to rub.

With the Ferrari pair allowed to battle for track position, that left Sainz, who had locked up, to virtually stop as he was squeezed towards the gravel trap, in turn gifting Verstappen breathing space of 2 seconds.

Verstappen was able to stretch the legs of his RB18 to take the gap up towards 3 seconds but in the final few laps, Leclerc could lap a tenth or two faster to gradually chip away at the margin.

Verstappen would complain about his struggles on the medium tyres, but the pace swing was not enough to offer a threat as the defending title winner eventually crossed the line 1.6 seconds clear to extend his championship lead to 44 points – Leclerc having taken the bonus point for fastest lap.

Sainz completed the podium another 3.9 seconds adrift of his Ferrari teammate while George Russell converted fourth on the grid in a lonely afternoon, his Mercedes W13 having received extensive repairs following his final-corner shunt late in Q3.

Sergio Perez, who had started P13 after his Q3 times were deleted for a late Q2 track limits violation that initially went undetected, recovered to fifth position.

His impressive climb was aided by a first-corner collision that involved Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri being lifted into the air and spun around.

The AlphaTauri racer, starting P10, had moved gradually to the left as he lined up the first right-hander, but in doing so left Lewis Hamilton pinched with the Williams of Alex Albon.

The lack of room left Hamilton’s front-right to make contact with Gasly’s rear left, prompting his car to hop into the air and spin down to an eventual P15.

Perez had also made rapid moves on the two Haas cars before demoting Esteban Ocon, the sole remaining Alpine securing sixth ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen narrowly had the measure of stablemate Mick Schumacher, which left Mick to ask his team for K-Mag to check his pace and offer DRS assistance.

This came as Hamilton welded himself to the rear of Schumacher’s car and stuck his nose alongside at Turn 3 repeatedly, at one stage appearing to touch the Haas’ right-rear wheel, as he fought to claim eighth position.

The Mercedes was still unable to pass with DRS assistance owing to the Haas’ straight line credentials, but Hamilton eventually passed with good drive out of Turn 3.

Schumacher just left enough room to the grass for the W13 to take the position into Turn 3.

Valtteri Bottas used the dice to close but was not truly in the fight and settled in P10 spot.

Despite Daniel Ricciardo asking to be let past, Lando Norris headed a McLaren P11 and P12.

Lance Stroll (top soft tyre runner), Zhou and Gasly completed the top 15 ahead of Alex Albon, who was demoted to P16 with a five-second penalty for squeezing Lando Norris out of room on the exit of Turn 3.

Behind Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi, Sebastian Vettel joined Alonso as a retiree.

The Aston Martin was called into the pits on the last lap with damage, Vettel having spun when he collided as he battled around the outside of Turn 7.

So a straightforward sprint victory for Max Verstappen. Who was running up that hill to escape from the Ferraris. Sunday’s race could be much closer especially in terms of race pace and strategy. But the orange army are expecting another Super Max performance. Roll on the main race.

Austrian Grand Prix, sprint race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 26:30.059
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.675
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 5.644
4 George Russell Mercedes 13.429
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull 18.302
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine 31.032
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 34.539
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 35.447
9 Mick Schumacher Haas 37.163
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 37.557
11 Lando Norris McLaren 38.580
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 39.738
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 48.241
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 50.753
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 52.125
16 Alex Albon Williams 52.412
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 54.556
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 68.694
19 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin DNF
– Fernando Alonso Alpine DNS

4 thoughts to “Verstappen wins Austrian Grand Prix sprint race”

  1. Austrian Grand Prix sprint race review as reported by

    Max Verstappen won the F1 Sprint at the Red Bull Ring, beating the duelling Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, as he cruised to victory and secured a P1 start for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

    Verstappen aced qualifying on Friday evening, in a session that saw both Mercedes crash out in Q3, after which Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez was bumped down to P13 on the grid for this Sprint. This new-for-2022 Sprint format awards points to the top eight instead of the top three.

    Yellow flags came out on the formation lap when Fernando Alonso’s Alpine failed to get off the grid – forcing him out of the Sprint – before Zhou Guanyu’s brief stoppage at the final corner approaching the grid prompted a second formation lap and forced the Alfa Romeo driver to start from the pits. The other 18 cars navigated a haze of orange smoke to finally commence a Sprint of 23 laps rather than 24.

    The top 10 began on medium tyres, only four drivers having opted for softs. From pole, Verstappen enjoyed a rapid start and shut the door on Leclerc, who attempted a pass down his right-hand side – briefly giving Sainz P2 at his team mate’s expense before the Monegasque hit back.

    Sainz and Leclerc went at it again on Lap 6 while Verstappen stretched his lead to well over two seconds, Sainz’z attempts to pass at Turns 2 and 3 on the following lap closed off by Leclerc’s dogged defending. The British GP winner dropped back and soon Leclerc built a gap to his team mate.

    Verstappen would continue to lead comfortably and eventually won by 1.6 seconds over Leclerc, who began to close in at the very end.

    George Russell started and finished fourth for Mercedes, while Perez battled from 13th to fifth, the Mexican gaining five spots in the opening six laps, the next two off the Haas drivers by Lap 10 and another off Alpine’s Esteban Ocon on Lap 12 – though Russell proved too far away to catch.

    With the Haas pair keeping Lewis Hamilton at bay for much of the Sprint, Ocon ended up a comfortable sixth. Hamilton, who was squeezed into Turn 1 and tapped the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly (P15) into a spin, worked his way back into the top 10 and spent the second half of the encounter stalking the Haas pair, his attempts to pass yielding no results until he finally got the better of Mick Schumacher at Turn 4 on Lap 22.

    The seven-time champion couldn’t catch Kevin Magnussen, the Dane finishing seventh and ahead of the Silver Arrow.

    Valtteri Bottas was passed for P9 by Hamilton early on and caught up when the Haas drivers stalled the Mercedes’ progress, but ended up 10th overall for Alfa Romeo behind Schumacher.

    After a tough qualifying session, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo inched towards the top 10 in the Sprint, the Briton finishing ahead of his Australian team mate despite running wide in an earlier attempt to pass Alex Albon.

    The Williams driver was given a five-second penalty for forcing Norris off track on Lap 4, finishing 13th at the flag but being bumped down to P16 to the benefit of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (P13) and Zhou (P14) in the Alfa Romeo.

    Gasly finished behind Albon but was promoted to P15 at the flag, with Yuki Tsunoda ending up P17 on a difficult day for AlphaTauri.

    Sebastian Vettel was the second retiree having been tapped into a spin by Albon at Turn 6, which left him last – Aston Martin bringing him into the pits to exit late on with car damage.

    With Sprint victory, Verstappen starts P1 for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix as he hopes to sweep the weekend and keep the raucous Red Bull Ring crowd on their feet.

  2. Fernando Alonso says his Alpine Formula 1 car suffered a “full blackout” on the grid for the Austrian Grand Prix’s sprint, which he failed to start.

    As the grid was vacated before the start, Alonso’s car was left on the grid on its jacks with the tyre blankets still attached, as the team was frantically trying to solve a technical issue on the car.

    But as the grid was led around for another formation lap due to Zhou Guanyu’s engine shut-off, buying Alpine more time, Alonso didn’t manage to start from the pitlane because his car failed to fire up.

    A frustrated Alonso explained his car went into a full shutdown on the grid, the underlying reason for which is yet to be diagnosed.

    “Five minutes before the start we had full blackout in the car and we could not switch on the car,” Alonso said when asked about the issue by

    “We tried to fire up with an external battery, but it didn’t work either, so there is something bigger going on there and let’s try to fix it for tomorrow.

    “Because they weren’t lining up in the starting grid, we tried to be ready, but it didn’t work with the second battery either so as I said, there is something bigger going on.”

    Alonso will start Sunday’s main race from the back row and feared his “weekend is over” now due to how hard it appeared to pass in the sprint.

    “Yeah, it’s over. Weekend over in general, because as we saw here, there are trains of cars and you cannot pass.

    “It’s going to be frustrating with the DRS trains and things like that. So we will try to be creative with the strategy and try to get lucky maybe with safety cars or something.

    “So let’s see, but I think it’s going to be a very, very long race behind many cars.”

    It’s the latest setback for the Spaniard after a spate of retirements earlier in the season, with the 40-year-old adamant he has been driving at his best level in 10 years.

    After scoring a season-best fifth place in Silverstone, Alonso is currently 10th in the standings with 28 points, 14 behind teammate Esteban Ocon.

    “This year, I feel probably at my highest level driving wise, thanks to the experience as well, maybe at the level of 2012 and I have 20 points or something like that, so it’s unbelievable.

    “Maybe we lost 70 points, I guess 60 points if we count all the retirements and bad luck and reliability so it is a very strange season.

    “Even though as I said I’m very proud of my own job so far this year I’m driving at my best and then trying to work with a team as close as I can.

    “If we don’t get the points because all these reasons obviously it’s very frustrating but I would be more sad if it was my own mistakes.”


  3. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says the Scuderia cannot afford repeat of Carlos Sainz intra-team Formula 1 battle. has the news story.

    Charles Leclerc says Ferrari can’t afford to repeat its intra-team sprint race battle with teammate Carlos Sainz if it is to beat Max Verstappen in Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix.

    Verstappen charged to victory in the sprint race at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday after opening an early gap over the pursuing Leclerc and Sainz.

    The Dutchman had been given extra breathing space to control his pace at the front after Leclerc and Sainz compromised their pace with an intense fight for second place in the early laps.

    After a close battle between the pair at Turn 4 resulted in Sainz losing ground and the DRS, Leclerc was able to run in clear air in his pursuit of Verstappen.

    But with Verstappen nearly three seconds up the road at that point, there was little hope of the Monegasque driver being able to overhaul his championship rival.

    With tiny margins making a difference between the evenly-matched Red Bull and Ferrari, Leclerc was clear that losing time fighting Sainz and allowing Verstappen to escape could not happen again.

    “I think tomorrow is going to be a long race, and tyre management will be quite a bit more important compared to today,” he said. “So probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today.”

    But despite his clear irritation at losing time in the fight with Verstappen, Leclerc did not think that the time lost battling Sainz cost him the victory.

    “Whether this was enough to get the win? I don’t think so, because Max was also managing the tyres once he had the gap,” he said.

    “So we’ll never know what will have happened. But yeah, the work today. It’s the way it is.”

    Sainz played down the fight between himself and his teammate, suggesting that ultimately they were contesting very little.

    “I think today there was very little to gain or to lose by the fighting,” he said.

    “We’re talking about one point more one point less, because the sprint, there’s not many points going on. And also Max looked very in control the whole race up front. So it’s not like we lost out basically.”

    Both drivers were clear that a decision about battling or not was down to team principal Mattia Binotto.

    Asked about the needs for clear battle lines, Leclerc said: “Yeah, I don’t know for the rules of engagement. Obviously we are we are not the one to decide. It will be more Mattia.”

    Sainz added: “Mattia will decide and the team, but it’s not like we lost a lot and it didn’t look like Max was panicking too much upfront with the pace.

    “But yeah, we need to make sure we stay closer at the beginning of the stint and we are closer at the end of the stint. I think this is what we need to try and do tomorrow.”

  4. Haas driver Mick Schumacher commented that his Lewis Hamilton fight in Austria Formula 1 sprint “shouldn’t have happened”. has the full story.

    Mick Schumacher says his battle with Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix sprint race “shouldn’t have happened” because Haas should have let him pass Kevin Magnussen.

    The Haas pair ran line astern in the early stages of Saturday’s sprint contest at the Red Bull Ring as they vied for seventh.

    As Hamilton latched onto the back of them in his Mercedes in the second half of the race, Schumacher was forced to drive defensively to hold onto eighth place.

    But as he did this, he slid out of Magnussen’s DRS range and asked the team to slow the Dane down to give him that advantage back to defend against Hamilton.

    Hamilton ultimately took eighth away from a disgruntled Schumacher, who feels Haas should have swapped him with Magnussen earlier as he was “quite a bit quicker”.

    “Yeah, I think that it’s something to be discussed,” Schumacher told Sky F1 when asked about his race.

    “Obviously, I think the battle with Lewis was fun, but in the first place it shouldn’t have happened.

    “I think in some ways I was quite a bit quicker.”

    When asked if he thought he should have been allowed to move ahead of Magnussen, Schumacher said “yeah”, before answering the same when asked if the team denied the swap when he called for it.

    He also believes he “saved” Magnussen from being attacked by Hamilton and thinks he could have gone after Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in sixth had Haas swapped cars.

    “I think I had more pace to be in front,” Schumacher said.

    “It’s something to have a look at maybe for my understanding on why we didn’t swap the positions, because I felt I probably could have attacked Esteban ahead.

    “In some ways I was saving his [Magnussen’s] butt from the attack of Lewis.

    “I was actually hoping he would drop back, which I think didn’t happen. So, that left me vulnerable then to the DRS [of Hamilton].”

    Schumacher is under investigation for a startline infringement by the stewards, but isn’t sure what he’s done wrong.

    “There’s one thing I can think of, which was I did a burnout in front of Kevin, but I let him through,” he added.

    “So, other than that I don’t really know if there’s anything I did wrong. I don’t think so, maybe I was out of position, but I don’t know.”

    Magnussen says he wasn’t asked to move over by his team, while saying Haas “really can’t be disappointed” with a seventh and ninth in the sprint – which will translate into their starting positions for Sunday’s Austrian GP.

    “I don’t know, I obviously can’t hear what Mick says,” he said when asked about Schumacher’s comments.

    “But it was a great day for us, we scored points, we’re starting P7 and P9 tomorrow for the main race.

    “We really can’t be disappointed with this in any way.”

    Magnussen added that he though he “had a problem” in FP2 as the “balance seemed off” in the car, before his Haas team cured the issues with set-up tweaks for the sprint.

    “I thought we had a problem this morning,” said Magnussen.

    “The pace didn’t seem good and the balance seemed off. Then we made some changes, but we’re limited because of parc ferme.

    “So, you can change the set-up, you can change the front flap and sort of systems side.

    “The balance came back and we found a whole load of pace from this morning, so I’m very happy.”

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