Max joy but Lew prangs
Austrian Grand Prix
BY PHIL DUNCAN
MAX VERSTAPPEN won yesterday’s sprint race to extend his championship lead and secure pole position for today’s Austrian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman held off Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in the opening corners before racing unopposed to the chequered flag, to the delight of his travelling orange-clad army.
Charles Leclerc took second after a number of nail-biting exchanges with team-mate Sainz – the Spaniard, who won at Silverstone six days ago, completed the podium.
George Russell started fourth and finished in the same position while Lewis Hamilton, involved in a collision with Pierre Gasly at the start, dropped from ninth to 11th before finishing eighth.
Sergio Perez, thrown down the grid for exceeding track limits, drove back from 13th to fifth. Verstappen’s championship lead over his Red Bull team-mate stands at 38 points ahead of today’s race, with Leclerc 44 points back.
Around 60,000 spectators have travelled from the Netherlands to
Austria to turn this weekend’s event into a home one for Verstappen, and he did not disappoint with a composed performance from pole.
Verstappen (above) said: “There was quite a lot of orange smoke at the end which was nice to see. We were closely matched so it was good and like a sprint should be – quite flat-out.
“I expect it’s is going to be an interesting battle again. Overall we have been really competitive this weekend.”
Hamilton raced in the spare Mercedes after he’d crashed out of qualifying, and the British driver was involved in an accident after the opening metres when he became the meat in a sandwich between Alex Albon and Gasly.
Hamilton’s front-right tyre made contact with Gasly’s left-rear wheel, sending the French driver briefly up in the air and into a spin.
Hamilton was able to continue but dropped two places. He fought his way past Albon on the fourth lap and then overtook Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas on lap eight.
Haas’s Mick Schumacher was able to keep the Mercedes driver at bay until Hamilton finally got his man with two laps to go.