Verstappen takes victory at Spa after starting from P6

World champion Max Verstappen came from sixth on the grid to take first at the Belgian Grand Prix, winning ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

When the five red lights went out, polesitter Leclerc went across Perez’s bows to maintain the lead at the La Source hairpin, where Carlos Sainz, starting fourth, locked up and then collided with Oscar Piastri running just behind from fifth on the grid on the inside.

The McLaren was pinched against the inside wall, damaging its suspension and ripping the side of the Ferrari’s right-side sidepod, with Piastri slowing on the run downhill to Eau Rouge and later stopping on the first lap of 44.

Up ahead, Perez used his RB19’s straight-line speed to fly by Leclerc into the lead the first time they ran up the Kemmel straight and he quickly built a DRS-breaking lead.

Verstappen was by the end of lap one up to fourth from his abnormally low grid spot, earned for taking a fifth gearbox of the season this Belgian Grand Prix weekend, where he remained behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who had started third, and Leclerc over the first phase of the race as Perez continued to pull clear ahead.

But when Hamilton lost DRS to Leclerc on lap six, Verstappen pounced going up the Kemmel straight and, with DRS himself, had enough to make a move to the inside and seal third position.

He then pursued Leclerc, whose gap to the lead had stabilised somewhat at just over two seconds, but as the end of the opening ten laps approached it had eked out again to three seconds.

On lap nine, Verstappen shot to Leclerc’s outside as the pair traversed the Kemmel straight, with the Ferrari defending the inside, but it was an unsuccessful defence as Verstappen braked later and swept ahead at the first part of Les Combes.

Perez’s gap to his team-mate was still the same he had over Leclerc at the start of lap 10, but over the next stage of the race Verstappen gradually ate into that advantage.

On lap 13, with Perez’s lead down to 2.4 seconds, he came into the pits – just after Verstappen and his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase had another team radio spat, this time apparently about the times the Red Bull drivers were being asked to do, with the defending champion concerned both cars would do the same.

On that same lap, Perez pitted, his stop nearly a second longer with a lot of sparks coming off his left-rear wheel and with Leclerc coming by as he pitted from third at the same time, as they switched the softs they had started on for mediums.

Verstappen was brought in at the end of the following tour having been asked if he could make it staying out on his softs until predicted rain arrived around half-distance, which he dismissed.

The second Red Bull stop was a second quicker than the first and that all added up to Perez’s lead being down to 1.5 seconds on Verstappen’s out-lap and that was down to 1.1 seconds on lap later, with the chaser soon getting DRS on the Kemmel straight for the first time.

Inevitably, the next time by at the same spot, Verstappen powered into the lead with an outside line DRS-run heading on the straight – easily went ahead of Perez, who tucked in behind his teammate.

Verstappen stayed on it to snap Perez’s DRS threat on the same lap, then shot to a near four-second lead by the time the rain arrived on lap 20.

It stayed light initially, but times went up by nearly three seconds for the leaders and Verstappen nearly dropped his car running through Eau Rouge one lap later.

That did not reduce his momentum, however, as he was soon over five-seconds clear of Perez, as the rain remained light compared to the deluges that delayed the sprint qualifying and race.

It eased off completely around half-distance, with Verstappen then ploughing on to extend his lead to near ten seconds by the time the leaders prepared for a second round of pit stops.

As the leaders had made a longer stint on the softs work better than many in the pack behind on full fuel tanks, the red-walled rubber was the compound of choice for the final run to the flag.

Hamilton, who started to close in on Leclerc in fourth during their stint on the mediums before dropping back again as it wore on, was the first to come in on lap 27.

Leclerc was brought in the next time by to cover the Mercedes, which had to fight by Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin as the Ferrari rejoined.

This phase cut Leclerc’s advantage, such as the undercut’s power, that Hamilton was the closest he had been Charles since Verstappen came by in the early laps, but again the Ferrari was able to pull away.

Red Bull made the same strategy call with Perez coming in on lap 29 and Verstappen on lap 30, after which the leader set a fastest lap nearly two seconds quicker than the personal best Perez had just achieved.

This earned a rebuke from Lambiase, who asked Verstappen to “use your head a bit more” as his pace immediately on his out-lap and then on the flier being deemed “not very sensible” with the soft still showing “reasonable deg”.

Verstappen suggested pushing on and stopping again just like Austria, but this was given short no as the lead rose to 12.4 seconds by lap 34.

From there, Verstappen continued pulling away and eventually won with a crushing victory of 22.3 seconds over Perez, who was 9.9 seconds ahead of Leclerc.

Hamilton had been running a few seconds adrift of the final podium spot when he was pitted with two laps to go to switch back to the mediums for a final stint, which he used to deprive Verstappen of the fastest lap as the Mercedes driver set that on the final lap, with a one minute, 47.305 seconds against the Red Bull driver’s one minute, 48.922 seconds set during that initial period after his second stop.

So a brilliant weekend for Max Verstappen. Winning the sprint and the main Grand Prix. The five-pace grid penalty wasn’t a problem for the world champion and his race pace is just unreal. Eight consecutive wins this season is mighty impressive and it will be fascinating if the other teams/drivers can challenge as the sport head into the summer break.

Belgian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:22:30.450
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +22.305s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +32.259s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +49.671s
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +56.184s
6 George Russell Mercedes +63.101s
7 Lando Norris McLaren +73.719s
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine +74.719s
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +79.340s
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +80.221s
11 Pierre Gasly Alpine +83.084s
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +85.191s
13 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +95.441s
14 Alexander Albon Williams +96.184s
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas +101.754s
16 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri +103.071s
17 Logan Sargeant Williams +104.476s
18 Nicolas Hulkenberg Haas +110.450s
Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF
Oscar Piastri McLaren DNF

Verstappen wins Spa sprint race

The Red Bull driver is unstoppable! Max Verstappen takes victory in the sprint race at Spa, beating early leader Oscar Piastri.

After spots of rain had fallen as the cars initially lined up on the starting grid 20 minutes ahead of the scheduled start time, it began coming down heavily ten minutes later.

The race started at 17:35 local time behind the safety car, which mandated all the cars to start the race on full wet tyres.

They were sent around for five formation laps, which was originally announced as four before one more was added in a bid to clear more water by the cars running at reduced speed.

This meant when the action did get going the distance was reduced from 15 to 11 laps, with several drivers including polesitter Verstappen reporting conditions were already good enough for intermediate tyres early in the initial formation lap procession.

When the safety car finally came in, plenty of drivers chose to pit and switch to inters.

This included Piastri from just behind Verstappen and the McLaren driver was joined in making the final formation lap call by Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton – with the Alpine racer emerging behind Piastri as several teams had to hold their cars as others pitted around them.

Verstappen did not complete lap one on the track as he too came in for inters, joined by Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris behind – two drivers that could not stop on the final formation lap as they were running behind their team-mates and facing a potentially very long double-stack stop.

Leclerc got a long hold anyway as Ferrari had to wait for several cars to come by in the pitlane, with Verstappen slightly delayed waiting for Norris to come past.

When he re-emerged from the pits, Piastri had already swept away from La Source and was in the lead with a 1.5 seconds advantage early in lap two.

Verstappen had halved that one lap later, but then the race was suspended by a safety car period after Fernando Alonso spun off while running behind Nico Hulkenberg in an incident that will be investigated after the race as it was labelled a possible “impeding” infraction on the FIA timing screens.

The race resumed at the start of lap six, with Verstappen sticking right with Piastri as they powered back up to speed and then immediately blasting ahead on the first time they ran back onto the Kemmel Straight having shot through the Eau Rouge/Raidillon sequence with the McLaren fractionally ahead.

Verstappen then ran clear to an easy win, ending up with a 6.6s final margin of victory over Piastri.

So more championship points for Max Verstappen following this sprint race win and yet the highlight was Oscar Piastri leading and then taking a solid P2 for McLaren.

Belgian Grand Prix, sprint race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 24:58.433
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren +6.677s
3 Pierre Gasly Alpine +10.733s
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +12.648s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +15.016s
6 Lando Norris McLaren +16.052s
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +16.757s*
8 George Russell Mercedes +16.822s
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine +22.410s
10 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri +22.806s
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +25.007s
12 Alexander Albon Williams +26.303s
13 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +27.006s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas +32.986s
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +36.342s
16 Logan Sargeant Williams +37.571s
17 Nicolas Hülkenberg Haas +37.827s
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +39.267s
Sergio Perez Red Bull DNF
Fernando Alonso Aston Martin DNF
*Five-second time penalty for causing a collision with Sergio Perez

Verstappen takes sprint pole at Spa

Max Verstappen was in a different league in the sprint shootout qualifying by setting the quickest lap time in each segment. The defending world champion ended up with pole for the sprint race just beating Oscar Piastri in the McLaren.

The two Ferrari drivers ended up in third and fourth with Carlos Sainz ahead, while Charles Leclerc made a small error on his final Q3 lap that proved costly in the fight for pole.

The shootout session was delayed by 35 minutes due to rain yet again this weekend, with the precipitation falling particularly hardly in the hour ahead of the sprint qualifying.

In Q3, Lewis Hamilton led after the first runs, where some drivers, including Sergio Perez, took an alternative approach of putting in an extra preparation lap.

The Red Bull driver, therefore, headed the times before being shuffled back to eighth, while Hamilton ended up improving only enough for seventh on his second flier after an apparent miscommunication with his teammate George Russell meant the Mercedes appeared to get in each other’s way going up the Eau Rouge/Raidillon sequence up to the Les Combes chicane.

Leclerc was well in the hunt for pole as he set the quickest times in sectors one and three on his second Q3 softs flier, but a slip that nearly had him off the road at Turn 9 cost him so much time he ended up unable to beat Sainz’s one minute, 49.081 seconds that was good enough for third.

Both were then beaten by a late stunner from Piastri that featured the best time in the middle sector, before the McLaren driver was beaten by Verstappen completing the final flying lap of all in the session that sets the grid for Saturday’s sprint race.

Although the world champion registered no purple sectors on his final lap, he still had enough consistency to post the best time of all at one minute, 49.056 seconds.

Lando Norris took sixth ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, who also deployed the double warm-up tour approach in Q3.

Esteban Ocon was ninth ahead of Russell, who had also scraped through Q1 and Q2 on the edge of elimination in P15 and P10 in the opening segment.

George’s mistake at La Source on his final Q3 run – he locked up and ran deep – left him running ahead of Hamilton and the rest of the incident that appeared to cost the seven-time world champion a better shot on his own last effort.

Before this, Q2 was building towards its conclusion when attention turned to Stroll being the first driver to attempt to slicks – the Canadian pitting to change his inters for mediums.

He was 0.8 seconds down on Verstappen’s segment-topping time by the end of the first sector, where most of the track did have a dry line, but when he arrived at the still-wet Turns 8 and 9 – the long, slow right hander at the bottom of the first plunge off the track’s main hill and the 90-degree left that heads towards Pouhon – it all went wrong.

Despite being very cautious on his approach to Turn 9, Stroll lost the rear of his Aston and slid across the gravel into the barriers, knocking off his right-front wheel.

The red flags then flew and prevented any improvement, which eliminated early Q2 leader Daniel Ricciardo and the Williams pair Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, who spun coming out of the second part of Stavelot a few minutes before Stroll’s crash, in P11, P12 and P13.

Neither Williams pair set a time, with Albon being credited ahead because of his position ahead of Sargeant on what was set to be his sole timed tour, while he was caught out by Stroll’s crash having remained in the garage for most of Q2.

Albon, and Fernando Alonso were finally on out-laps on their mediums having waited a long time seemingly in an effort to discover if a slicks attempt was possible, when the incident occurred and so they were knocked out too.

Stroll pitting for meant he also lacked a timed lap on the inters, but he ended up ahead of his frustrated birthday-celebrating teammate again while Alonso was still on his out-lap.

In Q1, which Verstappen topped as the times fell over four seconds from Hamilton’s initial two minutes, 02.297 seconds, Yuki Tsunoda set a personal best on his final effort but could not do better than P16 with many others finding time behind the AlphaTauri.

Valtteri Bottas was not one of these as he finished his final flier well ahead of the dash for the flag, with the Alfa Romeo driver heading for the pits as his rivals ended the opening segment and he only recorded P17.

Kevin Magnussen was the lead Haas driver in a very different session for the American team, with K-Mag and teammate Nico Hulkenberg bucking the trend of circulating throughout the 12-minute segment and twice pitting for fresh inters.

This meant neither had a time on the board ahead of the final laps and with Hulkenberg delayed a few seconds leaving the pits for the third time by a jack being left near his car following his second inters change, he ran out of time and did not even get to attempt a flier.

That left Hulkenberg last behind Zhou Guanyu, but Magnussen could only manage P18 just ahead of that pair with his sole time lap, despite completing the same number of laps in Q1, as Verstappen.

Q1 also featured an incident where Verstappen had to go along away around Hamilton going slower on the racing line being noted for a possible impeding infraction, but the stewards decided no further action was necessary.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen with this sprint pole and yet it was so close for Oscar Piastri. The McLaren driver missed out by 0.011 seconds but he will start on the front row for the sprint race later.

Belgian Grand Prix, sprint shootout results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:49.056
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:49.067
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:49.081
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:49.251
5 Lando Norris McLaren 1:49.389
6 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:49.700
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.900
8 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:49.961
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:50.494
10 George Russell Mercedes 1:55.742
11 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri 1:57.687
12 Alexander Albon Williams No time
13 Logan Sargeant Williams No time
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin No time
15 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin No time
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 2:00.568
17 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 2:00.951
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2:01.079
19 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 2:01.430
20 Nico Hulkenberg Haas No time

Verstappen edges out Leclerc by 0.8 seconds but the Ferrari will start on pole

The defending world champion was in a different speed zone as Max Verstappen beat Charles Leclerc by a massive eight tenths of a second in a wet-to-dry qualifying session at Spa.

Verstappen had entered the Belgian Grand Prix qualifying having had a fifth gearbox of the season fitted, which means a five-place grid penalty for the main event but does not impact his starting spot for Saturday’s sprint race.

The Red Bull driver had trailed Leclerc after the first runs in Q3 – having only just scraped through in P10 in Q2 following the switch from wet to dry tyres in that session and as he disagreed with Red Bull’s run plan that led to a tense radio exchange with his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

On the second runs in Q3, Leclerc led the frontrunners around and improved the top spot benchmark with a lap time of one minute, 46.988 seconds – gaining nearly a second on his previous personal best.

He was untroubled by all but Verstappen, who was running deep in the Q3 pack behind, blasted to the top position in all three sectors on his final lap and he secured the fastest time with one minute, 46.168 seconds, with the world champion set to start Sunday’s race in sixth following his penalty.

Sergio Perez will join Leclerc on the front row for that event as he improved with his final run to knock Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton down to fourth position.

Hamilton faces a post-qualifying investigation for a possible unsafe rejoining infraction following a bizarre incident in which he briefly went off the track at Eau Rouge/Raidillon while running ahead of teammate George Russell, who ended up eighth in Q3.

Carlos Sainz finished fifth ahead of the McLaren pair Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, who went off into the gravel exiting the second part of the Stavelot sequence during the early wet running on the intermediates in Q1.

Aston Martin Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten, with the double world champion ahead and finishing behind Russell.

In Q2, led by Piastri with a one minute, 51.534 seconds, the field made the switch from the inter after the first half of the middle segment – a dry line having appeared around much of the long Spa layout.

This increased the track evolution factor that had dominated the Q1 segment, with several drivers putting in times that had them high up the order when they crossed the line with the chequered flag out, only for the rest behind to go even quicker and shuffle them down and out.

This happened to Yuki Tsunoda, who had briefly been top in Q2 with his personal best time set right at the end of that part of qualifying, with the AlphaTauri driver eventually eliminated in P11.

Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen set their personal bests after much of the rest had completed their final laps, but they did not trouble the top ten and they were knocked out behind Tsunoda.

Valtteri Bottas, who had led the change to slicks aboard his Alfa Romeo and ran on them longest, ended up in P14, with Esteban Ocon P15 after crashing at Turn 9 while he was pushing early in the late-Q2 slicks running.

The Alpine driver lost control of the rear of his car over a part of the circuit that was still rather wet, his right rear wheel hitting the barriers on the track’s outside before his right front also hit the advertising hoardings at that spot, which ripped several of these off and badly damaged Ocon’s front wing.

He managed to keep going and made it back to the pits, but Ocon did not take part in the final Q2 running, and the gravel that had been brought onto the track during this incident had to be swept away before Q3 began, which triggered another five-minute delay before the final segment began.

Q1, which Leclerc eventually topped, was delayed by ten minutes to allow extra time for the track to dry out following the dousing it had had only 30 minutes earlier in the preceding Formula 2 practice session.

The Mercedes drivers were sent to the end of the pitlane well ahead of the rest, where Russell noted the bright sunshine burst through the clouds over the La Source hairpin on the other side of the pitwall, while Hamilton spotted his right-side mirror had become dislodged.

When the action did get going, the cars circulated more or less throughout other than coming into change inters at some teams, for fear of more rain arriving from the direction of the Les Combes chicane, as the times fell from Russell’s initial two minutes, 02 seconds bracket to Leclerc’s then best of one minute, 58.300 seconds.

He jumped from P16 in the drop zone ahead of completing his final lap, with the times getting ever quicker and the improvements meaning Albon was shuffled down the order as he did not complete his lap following an off at Turn 9, which will be investigated now qualifying has been completed for a possible unsafely rejoining.

Albon was joined in exiting in Q1 by Zhou Guanyu, who could not produce a personal best on his final flier, while Logan Sargeant just behind did but nevertheless got eliminated in 18th.

Sargeant missed the first half of Q1 as Williams worked to change his gearbox following his FP1 crash, with the American likely to have missed any qualifying running ahead the session’s start not been delayed.

Daniel Ricciardo thought he had done enough to progress but the Australian’s second 2023 qualifying for AlphaTauri was brought to an early end as his best time, set on his final lap, was deleted for a track limits violation at Raidillon.

Nico Hulkenberg missed taking part in the final fliers as Haas had to try and work to fix a hydraulic issue on his car and although he headed back out in the closing minutes of Q1 he did not have enough time to get around and start a full-speed lap.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in being the fastest at Spa. The speed was mighty impressive and despite the gearbox penalty, overtaking at Spa is possible so Max can fight through to take another solid points finish.

Charles Leclerc inherits P1 for Ferrari so it will be interesting if he has the race pace to hold off the Red Bulls in the main race.

Belgian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:46.988
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:47.045
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:47.087
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:47.152
5 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:47.365
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:46.168*
7 Lando Norris McLaren 1:47.669
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:47.805
9 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:47.843
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:48.841
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:53.148
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:53.671
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:54.160
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:54.694
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:56.372
16 Alex Albon Williams 2:00.314
17 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 2:00.832
18 Logan Sargeant Williams 2:01.535
19 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri 2:02.159
20 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 2:03.166
*Five-place grid penalty for gearbox change

Red Bull achieves 12 consecutive victories following Verstappen win

Achievement unlocked for Red Bull Racing with 12 successive Formula 1 victories in this sport with Max Verstappen taking the chequered flag at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Verstappen crossed the finishing line with a massive 33.7 seconds lead over Lando Norris, who had to deal with a late drama from Sergio Perez for second before the Red Bull driver was challenged by Hamilton for third at the end.

Hamilton was slower away off the starting grid compared to Verstappen and attempted to move right along the straight to defend, but could not stop the championship leader from claiming the lead into the first corner.

As the two had taken wider lines into Turn 1, Oscar Piastri grabbed the initiative and slotted his McLaren down the inside.

Verstappen then began to stretch his lead despite tyre management being carried out against the heat, and spent the opening laps building up his advantage.

Lando Norris, who had passed Hamilton for third on a difficult opening lap for the seven-time champion, called into the pits at the end of lap 17 for a set of hard tyres, with Piastri to follow on the next lap.

But a rapid out-lap allowed Norris to blast past his McLaren teammate and claim a net second position, and Lando’s next few laps of the circuit ensured that he could build a buffer over his teammate.

Verstappen then pitted at the end of lap 23 for the hard tyre, and Norris’s collection of opening laps on that compound closed the gap between the front two to just 5.4 seconds.

Norris was unable to maintain that level of pace and, once Verstappen had got to grips with the hard tyre, once again began to crack open the gap and started to go almost a second a lap faster.

By lap 40, Verstappen was a clear 15 seconds up the road and the advantage over Norris continued to grow, until McLaren elected to pit its lead driver at the end of lap 44 for a fresh set of mediums.

Red Bull extended Verstappen’s tenure on track with the hards, and the Dutchman carried the tyres all the way to lap 51 before pitting for mediums.

The gap had reduced slightly to 10.9 seconds in Verstappen’s favour by the end of lap 53 as Norris had been able to make the most of his own middle compound tyre, but setting the fastest lap with one minute, 20.504 seconds for Verstappen to put the race beyond doubt.

Red Bull’s 12th win in a row thus beats the record of 11 set by McLaren in 1988. A new achievement in this sport.

Norris subsequently had his hands full attempting to keep Sergio Perez behind him, as Checo had undercut Hamilton during the second round of stops and then passed Piastri on lap 47 with a robust move into Turn 2.

As Perez sat behind by 6.3 seconds with 15 laps remaining. Norris hence had to pick up the pace to try and maintain second. He managed to extend the gap to 6.9 seconds after being given the hurry-up, but started to hurt as the lapped Yuki Tsunoda drew ever closer and allowed Perez to half the gap over the next two laps.

Once the two were both engulfed by traffic, Norris was able to stabilise and having cleared Nico Hulkenberg, had enough clear track to rebuild some of his advantage and had five seconds in hand with five laps to go.

Perez’s place on the podium was then threatened by Hamilton’s late fightback, as the Mercedes driver found great pace towards the close of the race and chiselled away at Perez despite his own traffic navigation.

Just 1.8 seconds split the two with two laps remaining, but Hamilton could not find enough pace in the dying stages of the race and was denied the chance of a podium.

Piastri, who had figured in second during the opening phase of the race, could not maintain the pace beyond the first round of stops and fell down to fifth having been cleared by Perez and Hamilton on track.

Although the Australian tried to keep Perez at bay, staying around the outside at Turn 2, the current championship runner-up did not wish to concede position and held Piastri off – who complained that he hadn’t been left much space.

George Russell claimed sixth after dispatching Carlos Sainz late on, and was promoted a further spot when Charles Leclerc’s five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane kicked in.

Leclerc managed to retain seventh place at the end as Sainz was not close enough to assume a further position, as the Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll completed the top ten.

Alex Albon missed out on the points and managed P11 over Valtteri Bottas, who could only collect P12 despite strong pace shown by Alfa Romeo over the weekend.

Bottas dropped spots at the start, as did team-mate Zhou Guanyu, who hit anti-stall and precipitated the first-corner accident that claimed both Alpines.

Zhou managed to get going but dropped down the order, subsequently misjudging his braking to nudge the back of the returning Daniel Ricciardo.

This pushed Ricciardo into the back of Pierre Gasly, who could not help diving into teammate Esteban Ocon and causing terminal damage for both Alpine cars.

So congratulations to Red Bull Racing in setting a new record in Formula 1 with 12 consecutive victories. That RB19 is indeed a fine racing car and to maintain an impressive winning run is just epic.

Hungarian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:38:08.634
2 Lando Norris McLaren +33.731s
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull +37.603s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +39.134s
5 Oscar Piastri McLaren +62.572s
6 George Russell Mercedes +65.825s
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +70.317s
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +71.073s
9 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +75.709s
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 lap
11 Alexander Albon Williams +1 lap
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1 lap
13 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri +1 lap
14 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +1 lap
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1 lap
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
18 Logan Sargeant Williams DNF
Esteban Ocon Alpine DNF
Pierre Gasly Alpine DNF

Hamilton takes Hungarian Grand Prix pole position

The seven-time world champion is back on pole! Lewis Hamilton denied his old title rival Max Verstappen by just 0.003 seconds to take P1 for the Hungarian Grand Prix in a exciting and tight qualifying session.

The Mercedes star was the last driver to cross the start/finish line in Q3 at the Hungaroring and overturned Verstappen’s lap to claim his first pole of the 2023 season.

The qualifying format was tweaked as part of an ‘alternative tyre allocation’ trial, where only hard tyres could be used in Q1, medium tyres in Q2, and softs in Q3, which yielded a competitive qualifying session.

Lando Norris broke into the one minute, 16 seconds with his opening gambit, one minute, 16.904 seconds to sit atop the order, but the McLaren driver had his hopes dashed when Verstappen set one minute, 16.612 seconds.

Hamilton then separated the pair that had locked out the front row at Silverstone with a one minute, 16.738 seconds, showcasing the potential that Mercedes had shown potential over the course of the weekend.

When it came to the second and final series of runs, Verstappen’s first sector had been less impressive than his first. Despite improvement in the second part of the lap, he fell short of his earlier time and left him vulnerable to an attack from the drivers behind.

Norris got close, just falling short after setting a one minute, 16.694 seconds, but Hamilton was up on Verstappen’s delta by the close of the second sector. Although the Mercedes appeared to step out of line in the final couple of corners, the seven-time champion held on to claim the first pole since 2021.

The McLarens locked out the second row as Oscar Piastri set the best middle sector of the session, as Zhou Guanyu was another driver to star in qualifying as the Alfa Romeo driver put his car onto fifth on Sunday’s race grid.

Charles Leclerc was sixth fastest ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who was just over half a tenth away from his Alfa Romeo teammate, as Fernando Alonso was just 0.001 seconds behind to take eighth.

Sergio Perez claimed ninth on the grid having broken a streak of five races without a Q3 appearance, as Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten having once again dragged his Haas into the pole position shootout.

Carlos Sainz was dumped out of the second part of qualifying by Ferrari team-mate Leclerc at the death of the session, as Carlos trailed Fernando by a scant 0.002 seconds.

Verstappen suffered a scare when his initial Q2 table-topping effort was deleted for surpassing track limits at Turn 5, which strong-armed him into going for a second effort on a new set of the mandated medium tyre.

He broke into the top ten with apparent ease despite taking margin with the white lines, dumping Esteban Ocon into the bottom five to set up a thrilling battle to get into the final part of qualifying.

Bottas demonstrated the pace of the Alfa Romeo and rocketed up to fourth to secure safety, precipitating the duel between the Ferraris to break through.

Sainz was the one to miss out when Leclerc crept through to the final part of qualifying, but was over a tenth clear of Ocon – who lines up P12 for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo grabbed 13th for his return after replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, as Lance Stroll was promoted to P14 after Pierre Gasly’s final lap was deleted for track limits. The final times all fell within a second of each other.

George Russell was the biggest scalp in a wild Q1 session having been unable to better his time in the dying stages of the session, as Zhou Guanyu headed the order on the hard tyres.

Russell was heard complaining about the high levels of traffic ahead of his final lap, and the Mercedes driver was overtaken by Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly ahead of the final corner as they jostled for track position. This left Russell on the back foot, and crossed the line stranded in P18.

Alex Albon had seemingly made good his escape from the drop zone, but fell down the order as Ricciardo burst through to outqualify Yuki Tsunoda at the first attempt. Albon was less than 0.8 seconds short of Zhou’s benchmark, with Tsunoda just 0.002 seconds shy of the Williams driver.

Russell qualified ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant, the latter losing a lap due to track limits at the top of the session and then rattled across the Turn 6/7 chicane on another effort to break out of the bottom five.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in taking pole position. Been a while since the seven-time champion was in at the sharp end of the grid – the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix back in 2021 – so it was refreshing to see car number 44 in P1.

Hungarian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.609
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:16.612
3 Lando Norris McLaren 1:16.694
4 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:16.905
5 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:16.971
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:16.992
7 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:17.034
8 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:17.035
9 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:17.045
10 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:17.186
11 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:17.703
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:17.841
13 Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri 1:18.002
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:18.144
15 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:18.217
16 Alexander Albon Williams 1:18.917
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:18.919
18 George Russell Mercedes 1:19.027
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:19.206
20 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:19.248

Verstappen takes victory at Silverstone as Norris and Hamilton achieves a British podium

Defending world champion Max Verstappen achieved his eleventh successive victory in Formula 1 by taking first at the British Grand Prix. Early race leader Lando Norris finished in second for McLaren while Lewis Hamilton took third for Mercedes.

At the start, Norris was able to blast past polesitter Verstappen as the Red Bull was unable to accelerate despite Max reacting well enough, which meant Oscar Piastri also had a look to the inside of the first corner starting in third.

There, Verstappen went the long way around to take second and he then chased Norris down the Wellington straight, where the leader successfully weaved to disrupt the two to the pack behind.

Norris was able to initially keep Verstappen at bay but on lap five of 52 Verstappen used the powerful DRS effect on the Red Bull to shoot along the Wellington straight and then dive back into the lead at Brooklands.

McLaren informed Norris that Piastri would hold station in third at this stage, with the top three already well clear of Charles Leclerc and George Russell battling at the head of the pack behind.

Norris stayed with Verstappen before finally falling out of DRS range at one-fifth distance, where the teams were split informing their drivers over whether the clouds that had built up over Silverstone ahead of the start would start to deposit rain on proceedings.

The drivers did report light drizzle through the next phase before attention turned to the planned single stops for the frontrunners, who had all started on the mediums bar Russell on the softs that held on better than expected over a race stint as he continued to chase Leclerc closely at this stage.

Verstappen gradually pulled clear of Norris, their times getting quicker through the 1m33s bracket initially before reaching the mid-one minute, 32 seconds range only Piastri in third could join them in.

By the time Leclerc became the first of the frontrunners to stop on lap 18, Verstappen’s lead had reached four seconds, which had become 8.1 seconds by the time Piastri pitted from third on lap 29 as the leader had upped his pace to the low one minute, 32 seconds on several occasions.

Just as Verstappen and Norris were extending their first stints a little now, the race was neutralised first by the virtual safety car when Kevin Magnussen’s engine – new after his qualifying oil pressure loss – expired on the Wellington straight on lap 32.

That was then upgraded to a full safety car period so the Haas could be craned onto a recovery truck, during which Verstappen and Norris pitted, as did many others in the pack, including Hamilton, who had been chasing the Ferrari cars and Russell early on after losing ground at the start from his seventh place starting spot.

The leaders were split on tyres for the second stint, with Verstappen and Hamilton taking softs and Norris on the hards, as he mirrored the tyres Piastri had taken on the other McLaren that was down to fourth for the restart behind Hamilton thanks to its unfortunate pre-interruption pitstop timing.

When racing resumed on lap 39 – the clean-up operation for Magnussen’s car taking over 12 minutes – Verstappen was already 1.2 seconds when he crossed the start/finish line to resume green flag conditions as he had dropped Norris approaching Stowe once the safety car had pulled clear.

Norris, therefore, had to contend more with Hamilton behind as the McLaren had to work harder to fire up its tyres, with the pair thrillingly going wheel-to-wheel over the first two laps back to racing speed between Brooklands and Copse.

Verstappen, despite not liking his feeling on the softs, had enough pace in hand lapping in the low one minute, 31 seconds and one minute, 30 seconds on the final lap to easily rebuild his lead to the finish, eventually winning by 3.7 seconds.

After his two hard attacks on Norris, Hamilton never got another chance as he fell out of DRS range entering the final 10 laps and then came home second and third with a 2.9 seconds margin for Lando.

Piastri was also able to fire his hards up well enough to defy Russell in the second Mercedes at the restart and George then also faded from behind Oscar just as Hamilton had against Norris in the closing stages up ahead.

Sergio Perez made his way up from his lowly P15 starting spot during the early stages – but only really made up major ground once the safety car period had bunched up the field.

Nevertheless, he did not benefit from a safety car stop and so had to do plenty of overtaking, including a late move into Stowe on Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who had battled Hamilton during the first laps before the Mercedes passed into Brooklands on lap seven.

Alonso finished seventh ahead of the Williams Alex Albon, who defied the late attentions of Leclerc on the final lap – the Ferrari driver having been unlucky the safety car period ruined his early-stop strategy but allowed him to stop a second time under the disruption and go back to the mediums from the hards.

Leclerc and Albon followed Perez by Carlos Sainz in a gripping battle post-safety car, with the second Ferrari another pre-neutralisation stopper – although he was left out on the hards to try and stick out with improved track position as others, including his team-mate, stopped ahead.

Sainz eventually fell to P10, which he held ahead of Lance Stroll as Sainz’s path to the final point was eased by the second Aston colliding with Pierre Gasly in the Ferrari’s wake.

Gasly, who had been battling Alonso before the safety car stops, eventually retired as a result of the damage sustained in the clash with Stroll through the second part of Club, the final corner.

Stroll was given a penalty for the incident that dropped him to P14 in the final classification, which included Esteban Ocon being the race’s other retirement with a hydraulic issue aboard his Alpine.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning the Silverstone race but the highlights was definitely the start of the race in which Lando Norris was leading from the front. The battle between Lando and Lewis was entertaining too. Hopefully the race pace of McLaren will continue.

British Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:25:16.938
2 Lando Norris McLaren +3.798s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +6.783s
4 Oscar Piastri McLaren +7.776s
5 George Russell Mercedes +11.206s
6 Sergio Perez Red Bull +12.882s
7 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +17.193s
8 Alex Albon Williams +17.878s
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +18.689s
10 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +19.448s
11 Logan Sargeant Williams +23.632s
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +25.830s
13 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +26.663s
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +27.483s
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +29.820s
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +31.225s
17 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri +33.128s
Pierre Gasly Alpine DNF
Kevin Magnussen Haas DNF
Esteban Ocon Alpine DNF

Verstappen takes Silverstone pole as McLaren takes 2-3

World champion Max Verstappen continue his impressive qualifying run by taking pole position for the British Grand Prix, snatching the fastest lap as McLaren took second and third on the grid.

Verstappen drew first blood in Q3, the only driver among the ten to set their first lap on fresh soft tyres having saved a set earlier on in qualifying, with a time of one minute, 27.084 seconds.

This was over 0.6 seconds clear of Lewis Hamilton’s next-best time, one minute, 27.717 seconds, as the Mercedes driver beat a rapid Oscar Piastri after the opening series of laps.

But Verstappen’s pole time seemed up for grabs and, although Charles Leclerc looked mighty in the opening sector of his attempt, he was unable to maintain enough momentum to leapfrog the double champion with his time.

Carlos Sainz was also unable to make the difference and folded in behind Leclerc, while George Russell and Lewis Hamilton could not make any further progress and settled in behind the Ferraris.

And yet it was Lando Norris, who sent the British fans into raptures having reeled across the line with one minute, 26.961 seconds, moving up into provisional pole, but his chance of a first P1 at home was denied by Verstappen’s final flying lap.

Despite this, Norris booked a place on the front row with a much-improved McLaren, and his teammate Piastri added to the team’s joy with third after moving past Leclerc’s lap.

Leclerc thus qualified fourth ahead of Sainz, while Russell outqualifed Hamilton to take sixth on Sunday’s grid.

Alex Albon worked his way into Q3 as Williams showed greatly improved form during its 799th Grand Prix weekend, and collected eighth. Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly completed the top ten.

Although weather worries permeated the field during the opening part of Q2, Silverstone remained dry for the second part of qualifying to ensure that the track kept improving throughout.

This set up a last-lap dash to the line to break into the top ten and earn progression into the final part of qualifying, which became closely contested among the regular midfield runners.

Logan Sargeant, having lost two laps through track limits violations, had managed to get up to ninth, but was subsequently displaced into P10 and sat on the bubble as those in the drop zone tried to break out.

Esteban Ocon moved up to P10 to knock Sargeant out but was displaced by Lance Stroll – whom the Alpine driver had an out-lap and was held up on the exit of Stowe.

Stroll himself was succeeded by Nico Hulkenberg before Gasly displaced the Haas driver out of the top ten to take his place into the final part of qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas was also eliminated from Q2, having come to a halt at the end of Q1 at the exit of Luffield.

The earlier rain that had affected practice and the Formula 2 race had stopped in time for Q1, although wet patches of tarmac ensured that a quarter of the cars began practice on the intermediate tyre – including the two Ferraris.

But the circuit was sufficiently dry enough for them to pit for soft tyres, although pockets of damp track precipitated a Lewis Hamilton spin at Stowe, where he was able to recover his car out of the gravel and continue with his session.

The circuit began to improve although the resumption of rain looked imminent, prompting the drivers to hurriedly collect lap times on the softs lest any further rain interrupt the final vestiges of the session.

Despite their latent pace in qualifying, both Williams drivers sat in the elimination zone with just over three minutes to go, after Albon’s best run was deleted for a track limits violation.

To compound the team’s misery, Kevin Magnussen came to a stop at Vale as his Haas gave up the ghost on the exit of Stowe, producing a red flag in response to wheel the car away. This committed him to a Q1 exit.

Four positions were thus left up for grabs as the session restarted for a final set of laps, and the circuit had dried slightly more during the intermission prompting a 19-car shootout to make it through into Q2.

The timing tower thus resembled a slot machine with positions shuffling around with each lap, and the session came to rest with Sergio Perez becoming the biggest scalp from the opening part of qualifying.

Alonso ended the session on the cusp of the bottom five but managed to progress while Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu, and Nyck de Vries joined Perez and Magnussen in the elimination zone.

So in the end of this exciting qualifying, the Red Bull came out on top. Congratulations to Max Verstappen with pole position and yet it was McLaren who got the biggest cheer from the British Grand Prix crowd. P2 and P3 for Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri is a fine achievement. It’s going to be fascinating if McLaren has the race pace to stay in front of Ferraris and Mercedes come Sunday’s main event.

British Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:26.720
2 Lando Norris McLaren 1:26.961
3 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:27.092
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.136
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:27.148
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:27.155
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.211
8 Alex Albon Williams 1:27.530
9 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:27.659
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:27.689
11 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:28.896
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:28.935
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:28.956
14 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:29.031
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo No time
16 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:29.968
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:30.025
18 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:30.123
19 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 1:30.513
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:32.378

Verstappen victorious at the Red Bull Ring

World champion Max Verstappen dominated the Austrian Grand Prix even with the virtual safety car giving a Ferrari the opportunity to shake up the race order. And yet, the Red Bull driver had enough performance to beat Charles Leclerc to take his seventh victory this season.

Verstappen made a great start to head off Leclerc’s run to the inside for the first corner and then dropped him again following an early safety car needed to clear debris from contact between cars back in the pack at Turn 1.

The early phase was Verstappen simply driving clear of Leclerc and Sainz, who was initially told he had to sit behind his teammate and not attack, a radio call he got frustrated with after a few laps.

The race picture was changed when Nico Hulkenberg retired in the Turn 1 run-off after losing power immediately after his lap 13 stop to change the mediums all the top ten runners, bar Fernando Alonso for hards, had started on.

This caused the virtual safety car to be activated, which initially appeared to come just too late for the Ferraris to take advantage of as they were just passing the pit exit, but as it was still in place a lap later they came in when Verstappen did not.

That created an off-set between the two leaders, with Leclerc able to start to close in on Verstappen and then lead the phase approaching half-distance once the Red Bull was brought in to take hards on lap 24.

He immediately used that new rubber to erase Leclerc’s 6.4 seconds lead in just ten laps, with Verstappen getting by at Turn 3 on lap 35 with a move to the inside that appeared to catch the Dutchman out a touch as Leclerc stayed so wide.

From there, Verstappen pulled easily clear once again, opening up a ten seconds lead in the same number of laps as Ferrari considered switching its driver to a three-stopper only to be rebuffed by Leclerc.

He came in again on lap 47 having been 13.3 seconds adrift, taking the hards for the first time.

Red Bull then closed any hope of a strategic battle late on, as Verstappen was brought in to go back to the mediums only two laps later and he subsequently ran smoothly clear.

He had built a 24 seconds lead by the time he demanded a late stop for softs to take the fastest lap away from Perez on the final tour, which he did by over a second on one minute, 07.012 seconds – and this all made his winning margin 5.1 seconds.

Leclerc took second 12 seconds clear of Perez, who put in a battling drive from his P15 starting position, which was aided by several drivers ahead getting five-second time addition penalties for exceeding track limits – the topic becoming a major theme just as it had in both qualifying sessions here.

This included Sainz, who had also returned from his VSC stop behind Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, who had switched places from their fourth and fifth starting spots when the Mercedes shot ahead on the outside line at the first corner.

Sainz battled by but had to get Norris twice once he had fallen behind while serving his penalty at his second stop – like Leclerc for hards but two laps before the leading Ferrari.

Norris had repassed Hamilton by this stage, the seven-time world champion another to get a track limits abuse penalty while he was vocally unhappy with the race pace of his W14.

Sainz and Norris were soon joined by Perez and after he cleared the McLaren he engaged in a lengthy fight with Sainz, who kept picking up DRS by being ahead of the Turn 3 detection point and then fighting back against the Red Bull to Turn 4.

While Sainz felt Perez was “intimidating” him, there was nothing he could do once Perez finally got DRS out of Turn 4 and shot ahead on the run to the downhill right-hander.

The scrap cost Perez three seconds to Leclerc, who was at this stage with nine laps to go 12.4 seconds clear and the expectation of a final Perez chance never came.

Congratulations to Max Verstappen at the Red Bull Ring – by winning the sprint, scoring pole position, taking the fastest lap and race victory. That was a champion’s performance. Impressive stuff.

Austrian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:25:33.607
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +5.155s
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull +17.188s
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +21.377s
5 Lando Norris McLaren +26.327s
6 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +30.317s
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +39.196s
8 George Russell Mercedes +48.403s
9 Pierre Gasly Alpine +57.667s
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +59.043s
11 Alex Albon Williams +69.767s
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap
13 Logan Sargeant Williams +1 lap
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
15 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri +1 lap
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1 lap
17 Oscar Piastri McLaren +1 lap
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1 lap
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
Nico Hulkenberg Haas DNF

Verstappen wins sprint race at the Red Bull Ring

Max Verstappen resisted his teammate Sergio Perez on the opening lap to take victory in the sprint race at the Red Bull Ring. Carlos Sainz finished in third for Ferrari.

The Red Bull drivers appeared to push each other off-track, which allowed Nico Hulkenberg to play an early starring role for Haas before he had to complete a late charge on slicks as his starting intermediates faded.

At the start of this wet condition sprint event, Perez made a slightly better getaway compared to polesitter Verstappen and then shot to the inside alongside the pitwall as the pair raced to Turn 1.

Perez forced his way ahead of Verstappen and then cut him off so forcefully on the run up the hill through the Turn 2 kink Verstappen briefly had to put his right-side wheels on the grass.

Then at Turn 3, Verstappen sent his car back up Perez’s inside from a long way back and the Checo had to take to the run-off, from where he rejoined behind Verstappen.

Their tangle held up Lando Norris, who fell from third into the final places in the top ten, while Hulkenberg got such a good run he was able to benefit when the Red Bulls fought again in Turn 4.

Perez was again on the outside and lost momentum as Verstappen saw him off, with Hulkenberg getting such a better run out of the long downhill right-hander and through Turn 5 he was able to surge ahead on the next downhill corner, the fast left of Turn 6.

That left Verstappen clear to ease ahead, taking chunks of time from Hulkenberg over the opening phase of the 24-lap sprint race.

Hulkenberg initially kept Perez at bay, with Sainz following the second Red Bull closely as the pack behind fell away, but by half distance and with Verstappen nearly ten seconds clear Perez was able to mount an attack.

Perez retook second on lap 12 with a better exit compared to Hulkenberg coming out of Turn 4, with Sainz also getting the Haas the next lap with a better exit from Turn 3 as Hulkenberg began to struggle for tyre life left on his intermediates.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton had made good progress from their sprint shootout qualifying to run just outside the top 10 when Russell became the first driver to switch to slicks on lap 15.

His pace on the softs encouraged nine others to switch to slicks, although not the Red Bulls or Sainz, who ran untroubled to the finish in their established order to the finish, with Verstappen winning by 21 seconds over Perez.

Sainz was a further two seconds adrift by the finish, while behind the similarly inters-shod Aston Martins battled to the finish, with Lance Stroll holding off Fernando Alonso in fourth and fifth.

Hulkenberg ended up as the top slicks finisher as Haas opted to pit him for mediums on lap 17 having spotted Russell flying on the softs in the pack behind.

He had to make a last-lap pass on Esteban Ocon at Turn 1, but Hulkenberg was able to recover back to sixth by the finish.

Russell nearly got Ocon too having shot up the order with his early decision to change tyres paying off, finishing in a near dead-heat with the Alpine as they flashed down the start-finish line.

Norris took ninth ahead of Hamilton, the McLaren driver having engaged in an early race battle with Ocon and Charles Leclerc, who ended up P12 after a late battle with Alex Albon and Oscar Piastri, who were all passed by Hamilton during the second Mercedes driver’s charge on slicks after he had come in two laps after Russell.

So a frantic sprint race at the Red Bull Ring and yet the winner is the current world champion Max Verstappen. Can the Red Bull driver score maximum points in Sunday’s race? Judging by the speed and aggressiveness when racing, it seems Max is looking very strong in the Austrian Grand Prix.

Austrian Grand Prix, sprint race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 30:26.730
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +21.048s
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +23.088s
4 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +29.703s
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +30.109s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +31.297s
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine +36.602s
8 George Russell Mercedes +36.611s
9 Lando Norris McLaren +38.608s
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +46.375s
11 Oscar Piastri McLaren +49.807s
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +50.789s
13 Alex Albon Williams +52.848s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas +56.593s
15 Pierre Gasly Alpine +57.652s
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +64.822s
17 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri +65.617s
18 Logan Sargeant Williams +66.059s
19 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +70.825s
20 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +76.435s