AUSTRIAN GP – Max Verstappen dominates the sprint beating teammate Sergio Perez by twenty-one seconds

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen dominated the sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix beating his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez by twenty-one seconds. The Dutchman had initially lost the lead off the line to Perez as he struggled for grip he then stayed behind the Mexican through the first sector before launching a move around the outside taking the lead at Rauch.

Verstappen once again looked like a tough driver to beat he blamed his poor start and losing the lead due to poor grip off the line. But that didn’t stop the two time champion fighting back then building his lead steadily throughout the sprint and control his teammate. Perez meanwhile lost out and was forced to take avoiding action and that caused him to lose positions before recovering to second.

Verstappen expressed his annoyance with Perez to the team after the race, saying his move out of Turn One was “really not OK” and they “had to have a chat about it”. Both drivers almost embarrassing Red Bull at their home Grand Prix as the duo twice came close to making contact on the opening lap.

The Mexican, who had run wide on the formation lap, showed no hesitation as he dived up the inside at the first corner, but Verstappen responded with an equally aggressive move two corners later. Verstappen then forced Perez wide in the process gifting Hulkenberg an easy pass on Perez.

With rain having forced the field to start on intermediates, Perez launched an attack on his team-mate into the opening corner. Given his considerable championship lead and the fact that there is only one more point available for first than second in the Sprint, the Dutchman may have been surprised at Perez’s boldness.

Verstappen said, “The start wasn’t ideal a bit of wheel spin but after that after lap one, once we got back in the lead it was good just managing the tyres, knowing if it wasn’t going to rain anymore then you know 24 laps on the intermediate is quite a lot but they were hanging in there.”

His teammate Perez added “It was a good start, a bit of a fight with Max. Ended up losing position to Nico Hulkenberg. It was quite hard to get by him. I think Max was angry that I went into Turn 2 but I didn’t see him there. Once I realised he was there I opened the door and gave back the place.”

Carlos Sainz was third for Ferrari, the Spaniard two seconds behind Perez he looked to have a quiet sprint after Aston Martin decided not to fight. Lance Stroll finished fourth ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Nico Hulkenberg briefly ran second passing Perez during his opening lap fight with Verstappen, before dropping down the order when switching to softs in the second half. Hulkenberg was the biggest winner from the switch to dry tyres as he gained the most in terms of position thanks to the switch to inters allowing him to retain sixth.

Hulkenberg impressed throughout the race, initially building a lead over Perez when the track was at its wettest before the Red Bull came back at him. However the problem that Haas has with high tyre wear started to bite and the German started to lose places to Perez, Sainz and the two Aston Martins.

Esteban Ocon held off George Russell in a thrilling fight for seventh and the final point. That was despite Ocon being on inters and Russell on softs during the closing stages they fought hard for seventh with Ocon only edging out the Mercedes by a hundredth of a second.

But it underlined how quick Mercedes are in race trim, Russell had been the first to switch to soft tyres and though it didn’t prompt the front runners to switch it created interesting battles in the midfield. Russell nearly got Ocon too having shot up the order with his early decision to change tyres paying off, finishing in a near dead-heat with the Alpine as they flashed down the start-finish line. In the end, the gap between the Mercedes and the Alpine was less than a hundredth of a second.

Russell’s pit stop at the end of lap sixteen was proven to be a good move as he swiftly became the fastest car on the circuit, which triggered half the drivers to follow him into the pits on the closing laps.

Lando Norris wasn’t able to hang on following his brilliant qualifying, he slipped from third to ninth, but that’s where McLaren’s pace appears to be this season. Despite that, he did try to battle early on with Ocon and Charles Leclerc, after being caught up in the battle between the two Red Bulls.

Lewis Hamilton managed to spilt the McLaren however didn’t look to make progress we have started to see from Mercedes. He finished tenth seven seconds behind Norris and ahead of Oscar Piastri by nearly a second. Hamilton had on the opening lap made a lightening start.

Alex Albon was thirteenth the Williams driver finishing ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly. Yuki Tsunoda was almost eight tenth ahead of his Alpha Tauri teammate Nyck De Vries.

Logan Sargeant was eighteenth finishing ahead of the two Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou nearly six seconds ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.


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