After losing out to Lewis Hamilton in yesterday's qualifying session, championship leader Max Verstappen overtook his arch rival at the start and won Formula One's inaugural sprint qualifying to take the pole position for tomorrow's British Grand Prix.
Yesterday's late qualifying session produced an unexpected result with Hamilton posting the fastest lap after Red Bull's strong showing in the sole practice session. After only ending up second fastest, Verstappen complained of lack of front grip on his RB16B which was the result of the dropping temperatures in the evening.
With the starting order for the British Grand Prix defined by the result of the sprint race, the majority of the drivers was expected to take it easy this afternoon in order to avoid a clash and ruin their chances in the race where most points will be handed out.
When the lights went out, Hamilton could not pull away from the grid as he hoped with Verstappen and Bottas having a much smoother getaway from the line. The Dutchman did not ask for any invitation and flew past his championship rival. The Finn could have possibly also overtaken his team mate at Turn 1, but decided to back off and let Hamilton keep his position.
The star of the first lap was Fernando Alonso, who was one of the four drivers to start the sprint qualifying on the soft compound. The Spaniard improved six places on the opening lap thanks to eye-catching, brilliant overtaking manoeuvres.
By contrast, Sainz was the biggest loser of the start of the sprint qualifying with the Spaniard falling back to P19. The replays showed that Sainz was the victim of a get-together when Williams driver George Russell clipped the back end of the Spaniard's Ferrari at the Brooklands corner, forcing him wide.
While Alonso got a brilliant start to his 'race', his Alpine clearly lacked speed compared to the other midfield teams such as Aston Martin and McLaren, which forced the two-time world champion to fight his heart out to maintain his position. With the McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo being over half a second per lap faster in race trim, Alonso was unable to keep the papaya cars behind, although he could fend off the attacks of Sebastian Vettel to finish P7, which saw the Spaniard improve four positions compared to his qualifying result.
Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez endured a very difficult afternoon. The two-time race winner got on the throttle too early out of Chapel and spun his Red Bull on Lap 5, falling down to P19. The 31-year-old retired from the race with two laps to go, meaning that he will start tomorrow's British Grand Prix from the back of the field.
The inaugural sprint qualifying belonged to the Spaniards as not only Alonso, but Sainz also showed eye-catching manoeuvres. The 26-year-old performed a great recovery drive, ending up P11 after a string of neat overtakes.
In the closing stages of the race, Verstappen opened the gap on Hamilton to three seconds, but he started to struggle with his front right Medium tyre that showed heavy blistering. The Briton had asked his race engineer Pete Bonnington for more power from his Mercedes W12 and he managed to close the gap, but, in the end, Verstappen took the F1 Sprint win by 1.4s from Hamilton, and claim pole for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||17||25:38.426||0|
|5||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||17||+24.111s||0|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||17||+30.959s||0|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||17||+43.527s||0|
|8||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||17||+44.439s||0|
|9||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||17||+46.652s||0|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||17||+47.395s||0|
|12||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||17||+48.763s||0|
|13||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||17||+50.677s||0|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||17||+52.179s||0|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||17||+53.225s||0|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||17||+53.567s||0|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||17||+55.162s||0|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||17||+68.213s||0|
|19||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||17||+77.648s||0|
|20||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||16||DNF||0|