Verstappen will start in the lead at the Austrian GP

SPIELBERG, Austria – Red Bull driver Max Verstappen triumphed after leading the sprint race from start to finish on Saturday at the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Verstappen won the 23-lap event, which was scheduled to be 24, but one lap was withdrawn due to driver glitches at the back of the grid in bright sunshine and comfortable temperatures at the Red Bull Ring.

“We had a good pace at the start, and after that we all found ourselves on equal terms. It’s a sprint race, and we gave it our all… They (the Ferraris) were struggling at the back, so I was able to build a good lead, but after that it stabilized. The car is good, we just need to adjust some settings, but in general we are still very competitive this weekend,” said Verstappen, who also won the first sprint race of the season at the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna in April.

The Dutchman crossed the finish line 1.675 seconds ahead of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, while his ‘Scuderia’ teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the podium.

“It was dangerous, especially in the first part of the race, because I had to fight with Carlos, then I was able to push towards the end… Hopefully we will have a good start tomorrow (Sunday) so we can hustle Max,” Leclerc said.

“We will have to improve our pace a bit because Max seemed very strong at the start, so we will have to close the gap… It will be a different race tomorrow, and the most important thing is that we are in the fight and we we will give everything to catch up with him,” added Sainz fils.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Alpine Esteban Ocon completed the top-5, in order.

Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) followed in the next three rungs.

For his part, Quebecer Lance Stroll finished 13th, and Torontonian Nicholas Latifi 18th.

“It went well today. We managed to make up a few places on soft tyres, then we got stuck behind a train of cars, explained Stroll. It’s difficult to progress, because it’s very tight in the middle of the field, and because the soft tires lost grip at the end of the race. »

Only the first eight drivers at the finish of the sprint race scored championship points.

It was the second sprint race to be staged this season, following the one held as part of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in April. The result of this shortened race was used to determine the starting order for the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

As Verstappen flew over the circuit, to the delight of the tide of spectators dressed in orange to cheer on the Dutch driver, a great fight unfolded at the back between the two Ferrari drivers. Sainz, who won the first race of his career last weekend at Silverstone, tried several overtakes at the expense of Leclerc, without however managing to surprise the Monegasque.

Mercedes had to work hard in the 24 hours leading up to the start of the sprint race due to Russell and Hamilton going off the track in qualifying the day before, which damaged their respective cars.

The German team also indicated before the second free practice session in the morning that it had replaced the chassis of Hamilton’s car, which was beyond repair. That didn’t stop the seven-time world champion from moving up in the points.

Stroll’s Aston Martin team-mate Sebastian Vettel visited the gravel trap following a collision with Williams driver Alexander Albon on lap 12. The German was able to return to the track, however, after losing a lot of time, but the British team asked him to return to the pits to retire on the last lap.

The sprint race was marked by an error by the Alpine team, which forgot to remove the heating casings from the tires of Fernando Alonso’s car before the warm-up lap. The Spaniard therefore had to return to the pits, and he was never able to come out.

For his part, the Alfa Romeo driver Guanyu Zhou, victim of a spectacular accident last weekend at the British Grand Prix, caught a button which caused the immobilization of his single-seater a few meters from the grid. start, resulting in another warm-up lap, the time to allow the Chinese to revive. Zhou finished 14th.

The start was marked by a collision between the Alpha Tauri pilot Pierre Gasly and Hamilton, which led to a spin from the French pilot. The two men were able to continue, however, without too much damage.

Verstappen now tops the world championship with 189 points, 38 more than teammate Perez. Leclerc is third at 145.

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