Verstappen wins Austrian sprint

Defending champion Max Verstappen won the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race after holding off an intense early attack from the McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.

After the sprint had been shortened to 23 laps as an extra formation lap was required due to photographers standing behind the barriers at the first corner posing a safety risk, Verstappen easily led away from pole ahead of Norris.

For the rest of the opening lap, Norris defended against Piastri, who had started third, while behind Carlos Sainz battled by George Russell’s Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton chased on in sixth.

With Verstappen unable to escape DRS threat from Norris in the early laps, the Red Bull driver was even moved to defend the inside lines at Turns 3 and 4, before Norris attacked hard at Turn 3 on lap five.

Having braked very late for the uphill right-hander, Norris and Verstappen went deep, which allowed Piastri to get amongst the action through the following DRS zone heading back down the hill to Turn 4.

There, Norris left enough space on the inside for Verstappen to hit back immediately and retake the lead despite locking up his right front, which sent Norris slightly wide and created a gap that Piastri surged into to take second from his teammate.

The battle at the front allowed the chasing pack to close in, with Russell fighting his way past Sainz to retake fourth with a DRS-assisted run around the outside at Turn 4 on lap eight – just as Verstappen was starting to pull away from the McLarens.

The triple champion finally dropped DRS to Piastri on lap ten and from there he simply eased away to take his second third sprint win of the 2024 season.

Norris, having fallen to nearly two seconds behind Piastri while Verstappen was steadily increasing his lead, closed back in on the lead McLaren and regularly got close using DRS.

But Piastri held on to finish second 4.6 seconds behind Verstappen and 0.7 seconds in front of Norris.

Russell dropped back from the McLaren pair over the race’s second half to finish three seconds behind Norris in fourth, with other gaps spreading out between the rest of the leading pack too.

Sainz was a bit back from Russell by the end and had to hold off the close attentions of Hamilton, while Charles Leclerc was 2.2 seconds behind the Mercedes in seventh and 3.9 seconds behind Sergio Perez, who completed the points positions in the other Red Bull, 17.4 seconds adrift of the winning one.

Leclerc’s sprint race was transformed with a brilliant opening lap when he climbed from his starting spot in 10th to run seventh almost immediately, while behind there was interest as Esteban Ocon held off Pierre Gasly to win an intra-Alpine scrap over P11.

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg faces a post-race investigation for appearing to force Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso off the track at Turn 3 with a late, locked-up dive. The pair ended up P14 and P16, split by RB driver Daniel Ricciardo.

So an eventful sprint race with Max Verstappen resisting the challenge from the McLarens. Still not a fan of this gimmick from Liberty Media as this ‘race’ is just the first stint of the main Grand Prix and yet it is encouraging to see the race pace of the McLarens. Hopefully the Austrian Grand Prix will be exciting.

Austrian Grand Prix, sprint results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 26:41.389
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren +4.616
3 Lando Norris McLaren +5.348
4 George Russell Mercedes +8.354
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +9.989
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +11.207
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +13.424
8 Sergio Perez Red Bull +17.409
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas +24.067
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +30.175
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine +30.839
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine +31.308
13 Yuki Tsunoda RB +35.452
14 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +38.423
15 Daniel Ricciardo RB +39.397
16 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +43.155
17 Logan Sargeant Williams +44.076
18 Alex Albon Williams +44.673
19 Valtteri Bottas Sauber +46.511
20 Zhou Guanyu Sauber +53.143

3 thoughts to “Verstappen wins Austrian sprint”

  1. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen converted pole position into victory in Saturday afternoon’s Sprint at the Austrian Grand Prix, overcoming the McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris via some exhilarating wheel-to-wheel action.

    While Verstappen held his lead at the start, Norris soon closed in and briefly moved into P1 with a bold overtake, only for the reigning world champion to reclaim the position moments later in a squabble that enabled Piastri to pass his team mate.

    Behind the top three drivers, who maintained that formation to the chequered flag despite some more moments of excitement, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton sandwiched Carlos Sainz, followed by the recovering Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

    With a tweaked format in play for the 2024 season, Friday afternoon’s Sprint Qualifying session set the grid for the 100km dash, in which points would be handed out to the top eight finishers – from a maximum of eight for P1 down to one for P8.

  2. Norris rues his tactics at the Red Bull Ring’s Turn 4 just after he had passed Max Verstappen in the frenetic early stages of the Austrian sprint race.

    Lando Norris reckons he “left the door open like an amateur” in allowing Max Verstappen to repass on the Dutchman’s way to winning the Austrian Grand Prix’s Formula 1 sprint race.

    The McLaren driver attacked Verstappen on lap five of the 23-lap contest, having been able to stay in DRS range during the opening tours – running so close Verstappen was even moved to defend at points when Norris had not yet made a lunge.

    He eventually did at the sharply uphill Turn 3 right at the Red Bull Ring, with Norris gaining the lead as Verstappen was forced wide.

    But with the Red Bull chasing hard on the run back down the hill to Turn 4, Norris failed to shut the door as his rival had been doing here on previous laps and Verstappen was able to make a similarly aggressive dive to the inside and retake the lead.

    “Once things settle in too much, once the tyres get too hard, it’s difficult to do too much.

    “So I had to make the most of my opportunity. Yeah, then I messed it up and left the door open like an amateur.

    “So, yeah, some things to improve, but we’re there and we can definitely give him a fight tomorrow [in the Austrian GP main race].”

  3. Max Verstappen is keen to keep on improving for the rest of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend after facing a close challenge from McLaren in the Sprint, with the Dutchman taking victory following a thrilling early battle with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

    Having made a strong start from pole, Verstappen was put under pressure for the lead within just a few laps when Norris overtook the Red Bull into Turn 3. However, Verstappen found his way back through into Turn 4, before Piastri also swept ahead of his team mate for second place.

    From there Verstappen held onto P1 and clinched the win with a four-second advantage over Piastri. Reflecting on the Sprint after jumping out of the car, the world champion admitted that the McLarens ensured that it was not an easy ride for him.

    “It was a good first lap I would say, but then once the DRS opens it’s very hard to get out of it, [it] took a few laps,” said Verstappen. “A few exciting battles as well, but I think once we cleared the DRS then I could do a bit more my own race and it looked all a bit better.

    “But you could see they [McLaren] have two cars that are pushing flat-out, trying to of course make it difficult for me, and we had to work for it in that race.

    “A few things to think about where we could do better, for tomorrow especially, because I think tomorrow is also going to be a longer race and harder on the tyres, so it’s going to be quite interesting to see how that will evolve.”

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