FORMULA One’s newly revised sprint qualifying race provided late Saturday entertainment – to the benefit of pole-sitter Max Verstappen.
The fiery Red Bull shot through a cannon off the start line to lead championship rival Lewis Hamilton into turn 1. The flying Dutchman retained position after a nervous first lap and will start the British Grand Pirx from the start of the grid.
Verstappen’s teammate Perez, after being passed by Norris on lap one, spun out later in the race. Perez, a disappointed figure, earned the title of biggest loser from the inaugural event with the one of fastest cars over one lap on the grid.
Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas made the brave decision to start the qualifying race on softer tires. Made to the pleasure of the Mercedes camp Bottas survived the degradation on his tires to qualify in third – ahead of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.
Mclaren were big winners on the day completing a third row lockout after a sublime drive by hometown driver Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.
Fernando Alonso, who started on the softer tire compound, was up to 5th place behind Leclerc after the opening corners. Alonso held position mightily through the struggle of quickly degrading tires,but would eventually succumb to pressure from the lurking Mclaren’s.
Alonso starts in 7th ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebstian Vettel – both former Ferrari drivers.
Carlos Sainz, in his first season with Ferrari, was involved in a collision with Williams’ George Russell on lap one. The incident saw the Spanish driver come out second-best and sat in 18th.
The sprint qualifying presented an opportunity for the Ferrari to make up significant places after a struggle during Friday’s late sprint race qualification. Sainz would eventually make his way through the field to start in 11th on the grid.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon will start in 10th ahead of Sainz- his best result after out-qualifying teammate Alonso in the first four races of the season.
Russell received a three-place grid penalty for the incident moving down the order from 9th to 12th.