Max Verstappen won the F1 Sprint at the Red Bull Ring, beating the dueling Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, as he rode to victory and secured a P1 start for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Verstappen was successful in qualifying on Friday night, in a session that saw the two Mercedes crash out in Q3, after which his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez was dropped to 13th on the grid for that Sprint. This new Sprint format for 2022 awards points to the top eight instead of the top three.
Yellow flags were shown on the formation lap when Fernando Alonso’s Alpine failed to leave the grid – forcing him out of the race – before Zhou Guanyu’s brief stop in the final corner on the approach of the grid does not lead to a second formation lap and forces the Alfa Romeo driver to start from the pits. The other 18 cars sailed through a haze of orange smoke to finally start a Sprint of 23 laps instead of 24.
The top 10 started on medium tyres, with only four drivers opting for soft. From pole, Verstappen got off to a fast start and shut the door on Leclerc, who attempted a pass down his right side – briefly giving Sainz P2 at his teammate’s expense before the Monegasque fired back.
Sainz and Leclerc started again on lap 6 while Verstappen extended his lead to well over two seconds, Sainz’z trying to move on to turns 2 and 3 on the next lap closed by Leclerc’s dogged defence. The British GP winner fell back and soon Leclerc pulled a gap with his teammate.
Verstappen would continue to lead comfortably and eventually won by 1.6 seconds over Leclerc, who started to close in at the very end.
Running of the red bulls
Running of the red bulls
George Russell started and finished fourth for Mercedes, while Perez battled from 13th to fifth, with the Mexican moving up five places in the opening six laps, the next two ahead of the Haas drivers on lap 10 and another ahead of Esteban Ocon d ‘Alpine on lap 12 – although Russell proved too far to catch.
With the Haas pair keeping Lewis Hamilton at bay for much of the race, Ocon finished comfortably sixth. Hamilton, who was pressed into Turn 1 and spun Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri (P15) back into the top 10 and spent the second half of the race chasing the Haas pair , his overtaking attempts yielding no result. until he finally got the better of Mick Schumacher at turn 4 on lap 22.
The seven-time champion couldn’t catch Kevin Magnussen, with the Dane finishing seventh and ahead of the Silver Arrow.
Valtteri Bottas was passed for P9 by Hamilton early on and caught when the Haas drivers blocked the Mercedes’ progress, but finished 10th overall for Alfa Romeo behind Schumacher.
Sprint Highlights: 2022 Austrian Grand Prix
After a difficult qualifying session, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo closed in on the Sprint top 10, with the Briton finishing ahead of his Australian team-mate despite running wide in an earlier attempt to pass Alex Albon.
The Williams driver received a five-second penalty for forcing Norris off the track on lap 4, finishing 13th at the flag but being pushed back to P16 in favor 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 finishing P17 on a tough day for AlphaTauri.
Sebastian Vettel was the second retiree to be spun by Albon at Turn 6 which left him last – Aston Martin bringing him into the pits to exit late with car damage.
With the Sprint win, Verstappen starts P1 for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix as he hopes to sweep the weekend and keep the boisterous Red Bull Ring crowd on their feet.
“It was great to see [the fans] – quite a bit of smoke at the end with all the orange, but that was okay. I think it was a decent race, we had good pace from the start and I think after that we were very close. So that was fine. It felt like a Sprint had to go. Absolutely!” said Sprint winner Verstappen.
“Sure [the Ferraris] We were also fighting a bit, so I had a bit of a gap, and then after that, we were pretty similar in rhythm. So I expect tomorrow to be a very interesting battle again. Of course tomorrow’s race will be much longer, so it’s going to be tricky for the tyres.”
Sergio Perez’s stunning start was the key moment as, from 13th on the grid, he starts fifth for the Sprint and now has a chance to help team-mate Max Verstappen up front – or maybe even to take the lead of his teammate…
The biggest movers
Alonso was due to start eighth for the Sprint but his DNF – a DNS, really – puts him 20th for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Albon and Gasly lost six places each on a difficult Saturday.
Ricciardo and Norris took four places each, but Perez took the most places, eight, as he shot from his P13 grid spot (P12 after Alonso’s withdrawal) to P5 at the flag.
The Austrian Grand Prix kicks off at 3:00 p.m. local time on Sunday, with Verstappen expected to take the lead after taking first place in the Sprint and extending his advantage in the Drivers’ Championship. Visit our RACE HUB to see when and where you can watch Sunday’s action.
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