Max Verstappen was expected to control the proceedings of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, and so far it is going that way.
Verstappen led the 23 laps of the Formula 1 Sprint race in Austria on Saturday from pole position after fending off a brief challenge from the Ferrari drivers in the opening corners. It means Verstappen led the final 165 laps of the race at the Red Bull Ring and extended his title advantage over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez to 38 points.
The only mistake Verstappen made all day was forgetting to fasten his cap firmly on his victory lap in a KTM X-bow, the headgear flying behind him.
Verstappen will start Sunday’s Grand Prix from pole position.
It’s as if you were in the top four as Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and George Russell all converted their respective positions on the qualifying grid. The Ferrari drivers briefly battled for position, swapping places along the back straight, before an assertive Leclerc finally held Sainz at bay.
Verstappen’s eventual margin of victory of 1.7 seconds belied his overall control of the race, but the leaders suggested Sunday could still be close.
“Towards the end of the race we had a similar pace so I expect tomorrow to be a close race,” said Verstappen.
Leclerc added: “I think it’s very close, tomorrow tire management will be a thing and it should be exciting.”
The biggest entertainment was provided by Perez, who fought his way from a 13th grid penalty to finish fifth, ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. Kevin Magnussen picked up a few more points for Haas as he finished seventh.
Lewis Hamilton clinched the final bonus point to earn when he finally overhauled Magnussen’s Haas teammate Mick Schumacher for eighth.
The biggest losers were Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
Sebastian Vettel was tossed into the gravel by Alex Albon and dropped to 19th and last place, although he qualified at the back of the 20-car grid anyway.
Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, was due to start ninth but had a problem before the formation lap and couldn’t even line up on the grid.
Alonso will therefore start from the back row of the grid, alongside Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, who was relegated last after taking on a new engine, exceeding his annual allowance.
F1 Sprint will then be in action at the penultimate round of the season in Brazil in November.
Austrian F1 Grand Prix
Sprint qualifying results
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 23 laps
- Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +1.675 seconds
- Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, +5.644
- George Russell, Mercedes, +13.429
- Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +18.302
- Esteban Ocon, Alpine, +31.032
- Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +34.539
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +35.447
- Mick Schumacher, Haas, +37.163
- Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, +37.557
- Lando Norris, McLaren, +38.580
- Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, +39.738
- Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +48.421
- Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, +50.753
- Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, +52.125
- Alexander Albon, Williams, +54.412
- Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri, +54.556
- Nicholas Latifi, Williams, +1:08.694
- Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, 2 laps
- Fernando Alonso, Alpine, DNS
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