Max Verstappen wins inaugural sprint race to claim pole for British GP

Sports Sunday 18/July/2021 10:27 AM
By: DW
Max Verstappen wins inaugural sprint race to claim pole for British GP
Max Verstappen celebrates winning the inaugural sprint race to claim pole at the British Grand Prix

London: Red Bull's Max Verstappen will start the British Grand Prix from pole position after making history by winning Formula 1's inaugural trial sprint race.

The new format, which lasted just over half an hour, sees drivers race one-third of the distance of a regular Grand Prix to set the grid for Sunday's main event. Verstappen's win also extended the Dutchman's championship lead over the Lewis Hamilton by one point.

"It is difficult to pass but we had a good start and a good fight with Lewis around the first lap," admitted the driver's championship leader. "We were pushing each other hard and at the end the tyres were blistering and we had to look after them. It's a funny way to score pole position but we will take it and see what happens tomorrow."

Lewis Hamilton: "I'm sorry"

Seven-times world champion Hamilton had thrilled the Silverstone crowd as he set the fastest times in qualifying, but was beaten to the punch by Verstappen off the start before crossing the line 1.4 seconds back. 

"I am sorry I wasn't able to get the win for them today," said Hamilton. "But they [Red Bull] are just so strong. In the race he was pulling away, there was nothing I could do to stay with him. I don't know whether it was the most exciting race but we should do more like that or a variation on it because it makes the weekend more enjoyable."

Big winners and losers

Alpine driver Fernando Alonso was the big winner of the afternoon as he climbed four places on the grid after a gamble on soft tires saw him leap from 11th to fifth in the first lap.

Conversely it was Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who demonstrated the pitfalls on the new format. The Mexican started the sprint in fifth, dropped to seventh on the first lap, spun out on lap five and was eventually forced to retire the car meaning he will start from the back on Sunday.