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Verstappen wins inaugural Sprint Qualifying to claim pole for British GP

Ahead of Hamilton and Bottas

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By Olivier Ferret

17 July 2021 - 18:06
Verstappen wins inaugural Sprint (...)

Max Verstappen made history by winning the first Sprint Qualifying of the FIA Formula One World Champion at Silverstone after he beat title rival Lewis Hamilton off the line in a thrilling fight to the flag that left Hamilton with second place ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. However, the new format was tough on Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Pérez who spun off early on. He dropped to 19th place and then retired his car just before the chequered flag.

Verstappen’s win was secured at the race start. From his P2 grid slot the Red Bull driver made a superb getaway to power ahead of Hamilton as the frontrunners roared towards Turn 1. Behind them, Bottas settled into third place ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso who also made a great start, climbing from 11th place to fifth at the end of the opening lap.

Behind them, though, Pérez dropped back. He quickly fought back to seventh place but then, on lap six, as he pushed to close in on McLaren’s Lando Norris, he lost control and spun off. He managed to keep his car out of the wall but he rejoined in P19.

At the front Verstappen was beginning to build a gap and on lap eight he had two seconds in hand over title rival Hamilton. Bottas was a further three seconds back with Leclerc fourth, while Norris was now fifth after managing to get past Alonso.

The Alpine driver, who had started on soft tyres, was trying to hang on but Norris’ team-mate Ricciardo was next to attack and the Australian muscled his way past the Spaniard on lap nine.

With three laps to go, Verstappen was firmly in control and despite noticeable blistering on his front right medium compound tyre, the Dutchman was a comfortable 2.3 seconds clear of the Mercedes driver who was also suffering with tyre wear.

Towards the rear of the field Pérez was struggling. He had climbed to P18 but in the final moments his team told him to retire from the Sprint and he thus qualified for the race in last place behind the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and 19th-placed Nikita Mazepin.

Eventually, after 17 exciting laps, Verstappen crossed the line 1.4s ahead of Hamilton to claim the eighth pole position of his career in a novel manner.

In a reverse to the front row after qualifying yesterday, Hamilton will start second, while Bottas will line up at the front of row two alongside Leclerc. McLaren locked out row three, with Norris ahead of Ricciardo and Alonso took seventh ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettell, Williams’ George Russell and the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

Pos.DriverCarGapPitPenalty
01 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 17 laps - 25m38.426s 0 ---
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 +1.430 0 ---
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 +7.502 0 ---
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 +11.278 0 ---
05 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M +24.111 0 ---
06 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M +30.959 0 ---
07 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 +43.527 0 ---
08 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 +44.439 0 ---
09 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B +46.652 0 ---
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 +47.395 0 ---
11 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 +47.798 0 ---
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 +48.763 0 ---
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 +50.677 0 ---
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 +52.179 0 ---
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 +53.225 0 ---
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 +53.567 0 ---
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B +55.162 0 ---
18 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 +68.213 0 ---
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 +77.648 0 ---
20 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B DNF 1 ---

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