F1: Max Verstappen starts sprint races in Austria

Don’t miss the sprint race of the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday at 10am on RDS and in our multiplex environment.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen delighted his thousands of followers by taking the lead in qualifying for the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix on Friday.

Verstappen clocked a minute and 4.984 seconds on a hot and sunny day at the Red Bull Ring.

“It’s been a really long time between the two exits and it’s never ideal when the track temperature drops and the wind is unpredictable here,” said Verstappen, referring to the track exits that took place in Q3.

“There aren’t many corners here, but it’s very easy to make a mistake… We have a good car, although qualifying isn’t normally our thing. But I’m confident for the rest of the weekend,” he added to the cheers of the crowd.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc followed in second with 29 thousandths of a second, while last race winner Carlos Sainz Jr. was third, 82 thousandths behind the Dutchman.

“We’re all very close together, although the long pit break made it difficult for me to get my tires up to temperature. Max was a bit stronger than us today, I congratulate him on that,” said the Monegasque.

However, Verstappen’s lap could be investigated by the stewards as all four wheels of his Red Bull appear to have veered off the track on the exit of a corner – which would result in his fast lap being aborted and revealing the position of the head to Leclerc.

They are followed by George Russell (Mercedes), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Mick Schumacher (Haas), Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). Sergio Perez didn’t see his time counted in Q3 and Q2, so he has to start from 13th place.

Quebec’s Lance Stroll will start from 17th on the grid on Saturday, while Toronto’s Nicholas Latifi will start from the back row alongside Stroll’s Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel.

“Due to the track restrictions, it’s always a challenge here. Still, we didn’t have the pace today to reach Q2. We’ll try to make up a few places in the sprint race tomorrow,” said the Mont Tremblant driver.

The second weekend of the season will then be held according to the modified sprint race format. The first took place in April at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, the last at the Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos in November.

It was a particularly difficult day for the Mercedes team.

The third part of qualifying (Q3) was marked by Hamilton’s violent exit after poorly negotiating Turn 7 and sending his car through the gravel trap and into the guardrail. Contrary to his ego, the Brit got away scot-free.

“Sorry guys, I’m sorry I damaged the car,” said the seven-time world champion over the radio.

As a result, the session was suspended for a few minutes to allow maintenance teams to fix security devices.

At the restart, it was Hamilton’s teammate Russell, who in turn lost control of his car and hit a tire wall. The session was again briefly adjourned.

Verstappen, the reigning world champion, then took the opportunity to spin towards the lead on his own.

The Red Bull driver dominates the world championship with 181 points, 34 more than his teammate Perez. Leclerc is third with 138.

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