Photo: FIA

Verstappen Wins Inaugural Sprint Qualifying to Claim Pole for British GP


Max Verstappen made history by winning the first Sprint Qualifying of the FIA Formula One World Champion at Silverstone after he beat title rival Lewis Hamilton off the line in a thrilling fight to the flag that left Hamilton with second place ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. However, the new format was tough on Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Pérez who spun off early on. He dropped to 19th place and then retired his car just before the chequered flag.

Verstappen’s win was secured at the race start. From his P2 grid slot the Red Bull driver made a superb getaway to power ahead of Hamilton as the frontrunners roared towards Turn 1. Behind them, Bottas settled into third place ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso who also made a great start, climbing from 11th place to fifth at the end of the opening lap. 

Behind them, though, Pérez dropped back. He quickly fought back to seventh place but then, on lap six, as he pushed to close in on McLaren’s Lando Norris, he lost control and spun off. He managed to keep his car out of the wall but he rejoined in P19. 

At the front Verstappen was beginning to build a gap and on lap eight he had two seconds in hand over title rival Hamilton. Bottas was a further three seconds back with Leclerc fourth, while Norris was now fifth after managing to get past Alonso. 

The Alpine driver, who had started on soft tyres, was trying to hang on but Norris’ team-mate Ricciardo was next to attack and the Australian muscled his way past the Spaniard on lap nine.

With three laps to go, Verstappen was firmly in control and despite noticeable blistering on his front right medium compound tyre, the Dutchman was a comfortable 2.3 seconds clear of the Mercedes driver who was also suffering with tyre wear.

Towards the rear of the field Pérez was struggling. He had climbed to P18 but in the final moments his team told him to retire from the Sprint and he thus qualified for the race in last place behind the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and 19th-placed Nikita Mazepin.

Eventually, after 17 exciting laps, Verstappen crossed the line 1.4s ahead of Hamilton to claim the eighth pole position of his career in a novel manner.

In a reverse to the front row after qualifying yesterday, Hamilton will start second, while Bottas will line up at the front of row two alongside Leclerc. McLaren locked out row three, with Norris ahead of Ricciardo and Alonso took seventh ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettell, Williams’ George Russell and the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon. 

2021 FIA Formula 1 British Grand Prix – Sprint Qualifying
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 17 25:38.426
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17 25:39.856 1.430
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 17 25:45.928 7.502
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 17 25:49.704 11.278
5 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 17 26:02.537 24.111
6 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 17 26:09.385 30.959
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 17 26:21.953 43.527
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 17 26:22.865 44.439
9 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 17 26:25.078 46.652
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 17 26:25.821 47.395
11 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 17 26:26.224 47.798
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 17 26:27.189 48.763
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 17 26:29.103 50.677
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 17 26:30.605 52.179
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 17 26:31.651 53.225
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 17 26:31.993 53.567
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 17 26:33.588 55.162
18 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 17 26:46.639 1:08.213
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 17 26:56.074 1:17.648
20 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 16 25:09.289 Not running

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