Max Verstappen Wins Sprint Race
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the second Sprint race of the 2022 season, beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in Austria.
The Sprint was a lap shorter than planned after Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo suffered an issue as the cars formed up on the grid, requiring an additional formation lap.
Verstappen, who now leads the drivers’ championship by 38-points from Sergio Perez courtesy of his eight points scored compared to the Mexican’s four, led every lap after starting in first position having been the fastest qualifier in Friday qualifying.
Defending World Champion Verstappen has triumphed in both Sprint races this season, having overtaken Leclerc in Imola in April.
“It was a decent race, we had decent pace at the beginning and after that is was closely matched. The Ferrari’s were fighting a bit so I was able to pull out a gap. It feels good to bring home the Sprint win at here at The Red Bull Ring. The first two laps were important for me to pull a gap, from there it was all about maintaining the pace. The Sprint race of course does not give you the full picture heading into the race tomorrow, but pace wise, it’s close between us and Ferrari. I still expect it to be a tough battle tomorrow, we’ll also have the hard tyres so it will be interesting to see how they perform during the race. It’s going to be very important to make good strategy calls during the race as you never know what can happen, it’s not going to be straightforward but I’m looking forward to it,” said the 24-year-old.
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, who started the Sprint in 13th following the deletion of his Q3 times and best Q2 time in qualifying, made great progress to finish fifth, behind George Russell.
“It was a good race and recovery, I had a good start and kept out of trouble, it was tricky with Lewis and a lot of people going side by side into turn three. We got the most we could out of the Sprint and I feel it is a strong result from us. Once I got past everybody, George Russell was a bit far for me to catch up with, I wish I had got back up to P4 but I can fight from fifth. There are lessons we can take from the Sprint race to make sure we are on the podium tomorrow. Patience will be key on Sunday; I want to get a good start and get in the mix straight away in the race. I made up four places in the first lap today so hopefully tomorrow is the same. We are still to unlock some potential from the car so we can look forward to the race,” added Perez.
Lewis Hamilton, who uncharacteristically crashed out of Q3, was involved in contact with AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly, which set the multiple World Champion back to 11th on the first lap, but he fought back up to eighth by the end.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso did not participate in the Sprint due to a technical issue which prevented him leaving the grid for the formation lap.
Verstappen in control as Ferrari battle rages again
Verstappen made a textbook start when the lights went out and left the Ferrari’s to dispute the space behind him.
Carlos Sainz swept around his team mate Charles Leclerc at Turn 1, only for the Monegasque to snatch second position back into Turn 4.
Last weekend’s British Grand Prix had seen the Ferrari’s close together on track, fighting for the lead, before team orders eventually allowed Leclerc past, only for Sainz to grab his maiden win following a late safety car and strategy blunder for Leclerc.
The Dutchman made the most of the Ferrari duelling in the opening laps to open a comfortable lead which Leclerc could not erode once the battle with Sainz cooled off.
Sainz challenged into Turn 4 on the outside but was unable to make the move stick. The Spaniard tried again into Turn 3, braking late into the uphill corner, but he ran too deep and allowed Leclerc to regain the position.
A small flat-spot slowed the Spaniard’s pace but Verstappen, with a near three second cushion, was unchallenged to the flag.
Schumacher holds up Hamilton’s progress
Fresh off the back of his first Formula 1 points, Haas’ Mick Schumacher missed out on further points in the Sprint, despite a spirited defence against Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Hamilton, who had been involved in contact with Pierre Gasly on Lap 1, was fighting back from crashing out in qualifying.
The Mercedes driver got himself passed Alex Albon’s Williams and former team mate Valtteri Bottas, now in the Alfa Romeo, but got stuck behind the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher.
Haas allowed their drivers to battle, which contributed to Sergio Perez moving by the pair, but Magnussen seemed to be hanging back to provide Schumacher use of the Drag Reduction System (DRS).
Using the DRS allowed the 22-year-old German to stay close to his team leader and defend against Hamilton.
Hamilton got his Mercedes alongside the Haas several times, with Schumacher covering the inside line at every opportunity, but never forcing the Mercedes too far wide, which allowed the racing to be very clean and enjoyable to watch.
Eventually though, Magnussen edged out of DRS reach for Schumacher, who had asked the team to be let by the Dane, and Hamilton pounced.
The British driver, who appeared cautious in combat, which could also be levied at Hamilton in Silverstone, managed to position his car on the inside of Schumacher’s right-rear wheel on the exit of Turn 3, which denied the Haas driver an opportunity to close the door.
Hamilton pinched eighth position and the final point on offer in the Sprint.
Provisional Sprint Result
- 1. Max Verstappen
- 2. Charles Leclerc
- 3. Carlos Sainz
- 4. George Russell
- 5. Sergio Perez
- 6. Esteban Ocon
- 7. Kevin Magnussen
- 8. Lewis Hamilton
- 9. Mick Schumacher
- 10. Valtteri Bottas
- 11. Lando Norris
- 12. Daniel Ricciardo
- 13. Lance Stroll
- 14. Zhou Guanyu
- 15. Pierre Gasly
- 16. Alexander Albon
- 17. Yuki Tsunoda
- 18. Nicholas Latifi
- 19. Sebastian Vettel (DNF, 21 laps)
- 20. Fernando Alonso (DNS)