Max Verstappen enjoys sedate jaunt on carousel in sprint qualifying race – The Guardian

Formula One had been hoping for a rollercoaster ride from the debut of the sprint qualifying race at the British Grand Prix. Max Verstappen’s win, however, had all the hallmarks of a sedate jaunt on the carousel.

After the expectation and the hype, when the Dutchman comfortably beat Lewis Hamilton into second place to take pole at Silverstone it was anticlimactic and even the usually ebullient Verstappen seemed underwhelmed.

The race to decide Sunday’s grid for the grand prix was hoped to be a short, sharp shot of adrenaline-fuelled racing over 17 laps. It was all done and dusted in just 32 minutes but the decisive action was over in the opening seconds, by turn one, lap one, where Verstappen passed Hamilton for the lead.

The Red Bull driver followed it with a flawless run in the short dash to the flag, challenged only by the world champion on that opening lap and thereafter maintaining his lead with ease; Hamilton, as he has in recent grands prix, lacked the pace to challenge him. His teammate Valtteri Bottas was in third and Charles Leclerc was fourth for Ferrari. The top four remained in the same order in which they had started the race but for the switch between Hamilton and Verstappen.

F1 is trialling the new format with a view to using it again and Verstappen’s win is worth three championship points, with second and third place scoring two and one points respectively. It has further extended his advantage in the championship: Verstappen now leads Hamilton by 33 points.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen inhis RB16B Honda leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the Team Mercedes W12 during the Sprint race at the British Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen has surged ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who now says retaining the championship will be a ‘tall order’ . Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images

“It was pretty much the same as the last races in terms of just following behind Max,” said Hamilton. “Yesterday was a more enjoyable day, qualifying was great. It is very hard to follow in these cars. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed [today] too much but it’s nice to have more races.”

Many drivers said they enjoyed Friday’s qualifying more and there was some consensus of approval in having a competitive session on a Friday, while Hamilton again expressed his desire to see the weekend shortened to two days.

Verstappen in turn was far from the fist-pumping fury that leaps from his car on taking pole. “When I crossed the line today after this race and they said: ‘Great job, you are pole position’, it feels a bit like … yeah … I did one-third of a race distance and to hear pole position for the race tomorrow is a bit odd.”

Hamilton had wheelspin off the line despite, he said, having been within all the parameters he needed to make a clean getaway and Verstappen passed him through turn one. The world champion fought back, they went side by side though Copse as the crowd roared him on but could not make the place back.

There was some vibrancy from Fernando Alonso, who pulled off a superb opening lap to move from 11th to fifth, and drama when Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez went off at Becketts, losing the rear and spinning. The Mexican later had to retire and will start in 20th. Out front, the top four remained nose to tail and had settled early with Verstappen eking out a two-second gap. Hamilton was asking for anything his team could give him to take a shot at the leader but he had nothing.

The intent of the race was to provide a greater spectacle and potentially mix up the grid for Sunday’s race and F1’s sporting director, Ross Brawn, had been optimistic that the new challenge would be embraced. Yet

some drivers, including Hamilton, had warned that the sprint would likely be a procession, only mirroring the performance differentials displayed in a full grand prix and that fear of damaging their cars would make for a cautious approach and his predictions were largely borne out. There was little passing for all that they were flat out on low fuel loads.

The serious business remains ahead and Hamilton was hoping for a lift from the 140,000 fans expected on Sunday . “Tomorrow will be tough but the support of the fans and roar of the crowd is magnificent,” he said. “I will recharge tonight and come back stronger and be giving it everything.”

Lando Norris was fifth and Daniel Ricciardo sixth for McLaren with Alonso in seventh for Alpine with his team-mate Esteban Ocon in 10th. Sebastian Vettel was in eighth for Aston Martin and George Russell in ninth for Williams.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was in 11th. Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were in 11th and 16th for AlphaTauri. Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi were in 13th and 15th for Alfa Romeo. Lance Stroll was in 14th for Aston Martin and Nicholas Latifi in 17th for Williams. Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were in 18th and 19th for Haas.

Earlier, Alice Powell took an impressive win in the all-female W Series as the championship held its first race at Silverstone. The British driver beat Liechtenstein’s Fabienne Wohlwend into second with the defending champion Jamie Chadwick securing third. Powell now leads the title race, six points clear of Chadwick.

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