Formula 1 world championship leader Max Verstappen (Red Bull) won the rain-drenched Austrian Grand Prix sprint race on Saturday (July 1) ahead of teammate Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari).
Behind the podium of this half-hour race, the Aston Martins Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso finished fourth and fifth on a soaked track then drier thanks to the passage of the single-seaters.
The main action of this sprint race of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix took place from the first lap with the battle between the two Red Bulls. Pérez first managed to overtake Verstappen in the first bend. Overwhelmed by his right in the next straight, he slightly pushed the Dutchman on the lawn.
“Mad Max” answered him in the next bend by braking very late, blocking the Mexican in turn to pass him again.
Already 71 points ahead in the championship
“He pushed me, what the hell!?” Reacted hot Verstappen in a radio communication with his engineer. By message interposed, “Checo” retorted: “What’s wrong with Max?”. But Verstappen then escaped and finished with more than twenty seconds in advance, for this race of only 24 laps of this short circuit (4.318 km).
Winner twice at the start of the season, in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan (double sprint and GP), Pérez seemed to be the only one who could fight against Verstappen. But the Mexican suffers from the comparison: the Dutchman has won the other six Grands Prix and is now 71 points ahead. A hole.
Ocon in the points, Ferrari in trouble
Nico Hulkenberg (Haas), Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and George Russell (Mercedes) finished sixth, seventh and eighth and therefore in the points. Unlike Lando Norris (McLaren), ninth, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 10th, or even Pierre Gasly (Alpine), 15th.
Unlike last season, the starting grid for the Sunday Grand Prix is not defined according to the results of the sprint, but rather to the qualifications on Friday. Verstappen had won the 26th pole position of his career, the sixth this season and the fourth in a row. He will start ahead of Charles Leclerc, who had almost dethroned him by finishing 48 thousandths behind.
Leclerc and the Scuderia, in great difficulty this season, will seek a first victory for a year, obtained here on the opponent’s ground. But it is (very far) from being won: Leclerc only finished 12th in the sprint after a day to forget. The Red Bull Ring is, as its name suggests, one of the strongholds for Verstappen, who has already won there four times (three Austrian GPs and one Styrian GP).