Verstappen wins sprint to pole position

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won Formula 1’s first sprint qualifying race at Silverstone, beating home favourite Lewis Hamilton after taking the lead from the Mercedes driver with a better start.

Valtteri Bottas finished in third position ahead of Charles Leclerc, while an early-race spin and then late retirement cost Sergio Perez badly in the other Red Bull.

When the five red lights went out for the 17-lap race, Verstappen made the better getaway – his initial movement putting out a fire on his left-front brake – and was immediately alongside Hamilton as they raced away from the grid.

Verstappen swept in Abbey in the lead and defend first place with a series of weaves down the Wellington straight and then rebuffed Hamilton’s attack around the outside of Copse.

That move cost Hamilton momentum and Verstappen opened up a 1.1-second at the end of the opening tour – on which Fernando Alonso used his soft tyres (Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Kimi Raikkonen were the only other drivers to start on the red-walled rubber, with the rest on mediums) to gain six places from 11th on the grid to run sixth.

The two leaders quickly opened up a gap over Bottas, who took a few laps to join them running in the 1m30s bracket, with Verstappen and Hamilton exchanging fastest laps during the early tours.

By the halfway point, Verstappen had built a two second advantage, as he and Hamilton lapped in the low 1m30s and continued to pull away from Bottas, who was being chased by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Alonso had been holding up the pack behind, having steamed around the outside of several rivals at the race’s first corner, then taken advantage of the two McLarens and Perez battling on the opening lap, but was overtaken by Lando Norris on lap six and Daniel Ricciardo on lap nine – the first McLaren getting by with a dive to the inside of Village, while the other got by with a better exit from the tight right hander in their respective moves.

With Verstappen and Hamilton continuing to trade fastest laps up front, the gap between them fluctuated ever so slightly, as they both had to cope with their right front tyres blistering heavily.

Although the tyre issue did not have any major impact on their pace, Red Bull instructed Verstappen to avoid the kerbs in the closing laps – which dropped his lead from a maximum of 2.8 seconds to 1.4 seconds at the flag – where he sealed pole for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

The decision to start Bottas on softs did not pay off for Mercedes, as he finished 7.5 seconds behind Verstappen, albeit solidly head of Leclerc, who was a further 3.7 seconds to maintain fourth on the grid for the main race.

Norris and Ricciardo chased the Ferrari home but were well behind after their battles with Alonso, who was given a warning for weaving down the straights as he held off Sebastian Vettel to the finish to take seventh – the Alpine driver having also been trying to break the tow when defending from the McLarens earlier on.

George Russell finished ninth for Williams ahead of Esteban Ocon, but Russell faces a post-race investigation into a lap one clash with Carlos Sainz at Brooklands.

The Williams driver locked up at the sweeping left-hander and ran into the side of the Ferrari, which was forced off and Sainz dropped to 18th before recovering back to 11th and 0.4s behind Ocon at the finish.

The race’s big loser was Perez, who will start tomorrow’s race from last place after retiring on the final lap.

The Red Bull driver had been running 18th after losing the rear of his RB16B running behind Alonso and Norris on lap five as they charged through Chapel – Perez going through a full 360-degree, high-speed spin and shooting through the grass and a gravel at the top of the Hanger straight.

He rejoined after just keeping his car from hitting the wall.

The race’s other major incident involved the Haas duo on the opening lap, with Nikita Mazepin spinning after glancing the right-hand sidepod of teammate Mick Schumacher’s car, which looped the Russian driver around, and he eventually came home 9.4 seconds behind Schumacher.

So congratulations to the championship leader with this ‘victory’ in this qualifying race to pole. Bonus three points is valuable to Max Verstappen in his quest for the 2021 championship. Bring on the main Silverstone race.

Sprint qualifying results, British Grand Prix:

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 17 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.430
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 7.502
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 11.278
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 24.111
6 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 30.959
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 43.527
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 44.439
9 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 46.652
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 47.395
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 47.798
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 48.763
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 50.677
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 52.179
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 53.225
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 53.567
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 55.162
18 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:08.213
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:17.648
20 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda Red Bull 16 laps

5 thoughts to “Verstappen wins sprint to pole position”

  1. British Grand Prix sprint qualifying review as reported by

    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 out 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 P19 – 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.

    Lance Stroll was 14th for Aston Martin, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and the second Williams of Nicholas Latifi – as the two Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and the recovering Mazepin rounded out the order in 18th and 19th, with Perez the sole retirement.

    So, after the first ever F1 Sprint, it’s Max Verstappen who claims his fifth pole of the year, as well as three points – with Hamilton claiming two and Bottas one. But with Perez set to start from the back in the British Grand Prix, and two Mercedes starting alongside Verstappen, the action is far from over at Silverstone this weekend.

  2. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen “was really worried” after brakes caught fire on the starting grid. has the details.

    Max Verstappen did not know if his brakes would work after the start of Formula 1’s sprint race at the British Grand Prix, having suffered a fire on the grid.

    The Dutchman’s front brakes were spotted smoking as he formed up on the front row of the grid at Silverstone for F1’s first sprint qualifying event.

    But with the cars at the grid coming into position quite slowly, Verstappen’s situation escalated and his front tyres were briefly engulfed in flames.

    Although he ignored the problem to deliver a brilliant getaway that secured him the race lead, he admitted to not being sure the brakes would be okay when he first needed them.

    “Yeah, I was really worried about that,” said Verstappen, who went on to win the race. “A little bit of fire, it’s okay, but it was becoming quite big and I was just looking at my mirror to the cars at the back and hoping they would speed up.

    “So then, of course, I was not sure going into Turn 3 if my brakes were going to work. But luckily I didn’t do too much damage.

    “I think I saw a few people in the grandstand making pictures when the brakes were on fire, so for sure they got a good few shots there.”

    Although Hamilton pushed him hard on the opening lap of the sprint race, Verstappen was never really threatened after that as the title protagonists pulled clear of third placed Valtteri Bottas.

    But despite his pace advantage, Verstappen is mindful that Red Bull is lacking in straightline speed this weekend, having locked itself in to a higher downforce setting after Friday practice.

    “It seems like we are quite quick through corners, and they are quick on the straight this weekend,” he said.

    “After only one free practice session, if you’re not allowed to make any changes, and you don’t hit it right. I think then you get stuck. So we are a bit stuck on the straight.

    “That’s why we have to make up our time in the corners. But in this more or less flat out race, because you cannot really call it flat out but at least pushing more, the pace was alright. But I still expect with a pitstop coming into play [on Sunday], two pitstops who knows it’s again going to be a good fight.”

    Verstappen does not like the way that F1’s parc ferme rules have forced teams to commit to their set-ups after just one practice session.

    “I think we have to look at the schedule because to do an FP2 session, when you’re not allowed to change the car, is a bit wrong in my opinion,” he said.

    “It’s a bit of luck sometimes now, if we keep this format going for sprint races, that you only have one free practice to nail the setup.

    “Of course, sometimes it will work in your favour, and sometimes it will work against you. I think this weekend so far it hasn’t really been good to us.

    “But of course we always have to look at ourselves, you know, to make sure that we can do better, but if I could do it again yeah for sure I would choose a bit more top speed.”

  3. After winning P1 in Friday’s qualifying, Lewis Hamilton was beaten by title rival Max Verstappen in the sprint qualifying race. The Mercedes driver mentioned that “nothing I could do” to beat the Red Bull driver in F1 sprint. has the full story.

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says “there was nothing I could do” to beat Max Verstappen in the inaugural Formula 1 sprint qualifying race at the British Grand Prix on Saturday.

    F1 staged its first-ever 100km sprint race at Silverstone to determine the starting grid for Sunday’s British GP, with Verstappen securing pole in the Red Bull.

    Though Hamilton topped qualifying on Friday ahead of Verstappen, the Red Bull driver jumped him off the line in Saturday’s 17-lap sprint and fended off an assault from the Mercedes on the opening tour.

    Verstappen quickly put over two seconds between himself and Hamilton – though the gap shrunk to 1.4 seconds at the chequered flag as the former was told to avoid kerbs – to claim victory.

    Scoring three points for the win, Verstappen has gained a point on Hamilton in their title battle, with the Mercedes driver admitting he has to be in front at the start on Sunday to stop Verstappen charging away again.

    When asked if only losing a point in the title race was a positive he could take from the sprint, Hamilton replied: “Every point counts man, so I wouldn’t say that.

    “But I’m grateful to have finished and tomorrow we’ll fight again, but I mean they’re just so strong in the race. He was pulling away, there was nothing I could do to hold on to him.

    “So, we’ve really got to try and be at the front somehow.

    “They’ve [Red Bull] done a great job with their engine, their starts are really great this year, we’ve lost a bit of performance on our starts, so we’ve got to work a bit harder to try and improve that, because losing positions is never a great thing.”

    Commenting on the first sprint race, Hamilton says the weekend format shake-up has been “enjoyable” and hopes for more alternate formats in future.

    “I don’t know how it was to watch for the fans, I think this weekend’s been awesome in terms of like yesterday was such a fun day to have qualifying on Friday, way more enjoyable,” he added.

    “I don’t know whether that was the most exciting race or not, but we should do more like that, maybe a different version of it in future, because this makes the weekend more enjoyable I think.

    “But I need everyone to bring their energy again tomorrow.”

    Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was one of four drivers to run the soft tyre in the race and finished third as Mercedes hoped the Finn would be able to jump Verstappen at the start.

    “We tried to do something different and obviously the target was to try and get him at the start or in the first lap,” Bottas said.

    “It didn’t happen. I think he had a good start as well. In Turn 1 I was slightly blocked so I couldn’t really use the momentum, but we tried, and in the end we still managed to keep the place with a soft tyre, even though there was some blistering.

    “I think today shows that tomorrow is not gonna be easy.

    “And if it’s gonna be a bit warmer, then might as well see more issues so at least we’re definitely aware and more open if anything will happen really.”

  4. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez blames “dirty air” for Formula 1 sprint race spin. provides the details.

    Sergio Perez says getting “caught out in the dirty air” triggered his spin during the inaugural Formula 1 sprint qualifying race at the British Grand Prix on Saturday.

    The Red Bull driver ended up the biggest loser in the sprint race and will start tomorrow’s main event at Silverstone from last place on the grid after retiring late on due to safety concerns after a spin.

    Perez had been battling Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris when he lost control of his RB16B F1 car at Chapel, going through a full 360-degree spin at high speed and sliding over the grass and gravel trap.

    The Mexican driver was able to avoid the wall and continue in the sprint race but on the penultimate lap his Red Bull team opted to retire him as a safety precaution – condemning him to a last place start for Sunday’s full distance race.

    Perez has blamed running in the dirty air behind Alonso and Norris for his spin and felt he was “a passenger” as soon as he lost control of his car.

    “Coming out of the corner I was already picking up quite a lot of throttle. I think I got caught out in the dirty air and that made things hard,” Perez said.

    “I became a passenger, basically, really early in the corner. A poor day from my side.

    “Probably here is a place where we have been struggling the most.

    “I struggled a lot with the dirty air and I don’t know if it is related to lighter fuel loads starting or something like that, but I did struggle in the dirty air at the start of the race.”

    Perez was able to continue in the sprint race for a handful of laps before pitting, but felt there wasn’t enough to gain by finishing the race due to heavy vibrations having flat spotted his tyres in the off.

    “It was set. We basically had too much vibrations from the tyres from the spin and that was pretty much it,” he said.

    Red Bull will be seek permission from the FIA if it needs to make any changes to Perez’s car ahead of the race due to parc ferme conditions being in place.”

    “For Checo, because we have to do some safety checks on that car, we are going to have to get permission in order to do that,” Horner confirmed to Sky Sports F1.

    “There was no major issue but it put a huge flat spot on the tyres, thankfully he didn’t hit anything but the level of vibration was so high, that was why we retired the car so it enables us to check the car all over before tomorrow.”

  5. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso went aggressive in the sprint race and made some track positions. The double champion plans to stay on Formula 1’s “dark side” after this. has the news story.

    Fernando Alonso says he plans to stay on the “dark side” for the rest of 2021 after an aggressive performance in Formula 1’s first sprint event at Silverstone.

    Alonso opted for soft tyres for the start of the 17-lap contest, and in a stunning first lap he jumped from 11th on the grid to fifth place.

    He then defended hard, initially from Lando Norris, and then Daniel Ricciardo, earning complaints about weaving from the McLaren team.

    After both McLaren drivers passed him he successfully held off Sebastian Vettel to secure seventh place at the flag, with a net gain of four places on his qualifying result. At one stage his engineer passed on a warning about alleged movement in the braking area.

    When asked by about that warning message, Alonso said he was “surprised” to receive it.

    “I never moved under braking, I was moving at the beginning of the straight,” he said. “But I don’t care, to be honest. I’ve been on the other side for now nine races. So, you know, it’s gonna be the same for the remainder of the year. I will be in the dark side. This time…”

    Asked if he hoped to have another productive first lap in Sunday’s Grand Prix, he promised that he will stay aggressive.

    “Yes, I will try. The guys in front, they are fighting for bigger things than us. So we will be aggressive. We’ve been aggressive in the last three or four races. In Baku it was a two-lap race, and we recovered many places.

    “In Paul Ricard and in Austria we recovered a lot of places, but they overtook us outside of the circuit on lap one with no penalties. Here it seems a little bit more difficult. So let’s see if we can recover places tomorrow, and everyone stays on track.”

    The Spaniard agreed with suggestions that his first lap charge had been among the best of his long F1 career.

    “Yeah, I think the first lap was one of the best,” he explained. “I know there are a lot of first lap performances that are understood like good ones, especially in the Renault days with a very good start. But this one it was not only the start into Turn One, it was Turn Three, Four, Six, Nine. So it was a more complete lap.”

    Elaborating on where he made up ground, he said: “I think the first lap was a combination of things. The start was better than Carlos especially. It was not too different compared to Sebastian and some other cars. So Carlos was made in the start.

    “And then Sebastian was made in Turn One. And then it was some quite some high risk manoeuvres. One was with the McLaren and Perez in Turn Four. Then Perez again in Turn Six, Norris in Turn Nine.

    “I guess if I was fighting for the championship, I will not make those manoeuvres, because there is more to lose than to gain. But we are in a position that we can take maybe more risk, and benefit also from the red tyre first lap performance.”

    Alonso conceded that it won’t be easy to hang onto seventh in Sunday’s Grand Prix.

    “We saw today blisters for many people already in 17 laps, so tomorrow is going to a long race for everybody,” he said. “Quite warm tomorrow as well. In a normal qualifying, we were 11th. We start seventh, I’m not sure that we are the seventh fastest.

    “I expect a difficult race but let’s see what we can do, and we will keep attacking.”

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