F1 Sprint: What the teams and drivers had to say about F1's exciting new format
Verstappen’s brakes were literally smoking hot, flames spurting out as the Sprint began. The Dutchman was similarly on fire as he streamed down to the first corner to steal the lead from his championship rival, and from there was untroubled for 17 laps as he took the flag first and sealed pole for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. As for Perez, he lost a few places at the start but looked quick enough to make his way back to the front, before a bizarre spin dropped him to the back of the field. Carrying major flat spots, he was only able to make up a couple of places before retiring on the last lap.
Max Verstappen, 1st
“That was good fun. I’m of course happy to score the three points and it’s quite funny to have a pole position from the race as well but we will take it. Around here it is difficult to pass but we had a good start and a good fight with Lewis on the first lap. From then we tried to do our own pace but we were pushing each other hard right to the end as you could see the tyres were blistering which we all had to manage. Starting the race on lower fuel we could really push the cars hard through the fast corners, lap after lap, which means it is naturally hard on tyres but we all have the same to watch out for. We now can’t touch the cars for tomorrow and we learnt today that it is very close again with us and Mercedes. It seems that we are very quick in the corners and they are quicker on the straights so tomorrow it’s going to be a really exciting battle and the Team did a great job to manage the new format this weekend. I also want to say a big thank you to the fans. I know they are mainly here for the British drivers but it is still great to see them here cheering and all I want is a good battle with Lewis and everyone else tomorrow which should keep the fans entertained.”
Sergio Perez, 20th
“It’s a real shame to have to retire from the sprint race today as the car felt quite good. It was a poor day for me and I can only say sorry to the Team as I lost the rear of the car while battling with Lando which ruined our day. I was in the middle of the corner, already picking up quite a lot of throttle and I think I got caught in a bit of dirty air and became a passenger really early in the corner. I avoided any contact but after the spin we had too much vibration on the tyres and that was it. The Team were worried about the damage that could be caused with the vibrations, and there wasn’t anything more to gain, so they made the decision to retire the car. We’re at the back of the grid tomorrow and it’s not easy to overtake here, but we look like we have a lot of pace in the car so you can be sure I will be pushing hard to score as many points as possible. It’s a low point for me, but tomorrow is a new day and I look forward to seeing what we can do.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“It’s fantastic to be starting on pole for the British Grand Prix, which was achieved in a different way with Max winning the first ever sprint qualifying race. This marks our first pole at Silverstone since 2011 and breaks the Mercedes nine-year pole position streak. The race start was crucial for us and Max got a great launch off the line. We knew Lewis was particularly strong in Sector 1 so staying ahead down the main straight was particularly important for us, which he did and maintained the lead until the flag.
"It’s just a shame that we haven’t got Checo up there as well following that high-speed spin when he lost the rear in the dirty air. Thankfully Checo avoided the wall but the level of vibrations were so high we opted to retire him in order to fully check the car over and complete the necessary safety checks, once permission is granted, before the race tomorrow. You can see there was very little between us and Mercedes today, we were quicker in the corners where they were mighty in a straight line.
"The temperatures look set to soar and tomorrow’s Grand Prix won’t be a repeat in terms of tyre wear. The higher fuel loads at the start of the race mean the cornering speeds will be slightly lower, giving the tyres an easier workout in the corners at the beginning of the race, so it will be interesting to see how that affects things. It’s fantastic to be staring on pole position and I hope the fans enjoyed the action and a different format of racing today.”
That was not ideal for Mercedes. Hamilton wasn’t able to dominate off the line from P1, losing out to a quick-starting Verstappen. Although he challenged throughout the first lap, nearly pulling alongside the Red Bull twice, he couldn’t get the place back and was forced to chase for the full distance. The team had also gambled by starting Bottas on the softs, the only top 10 runner to do so. The plan was for the Finn to challenge Verstappen off the line, but the Red Bull was just too quick. The good news is that both drivers made it to the chequered flag safely despite suffering from tyre blistering. The bad news is that their main championship rival will start from pole tomorrow, so they are once again playing catch up.
READ MORE: Hamilton baffled by ‘terrible’ start that saw him lose Sprint lead to Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton, 2nd
"I did everything I could at the start with temperatures and clutch position but I still suffered wheelspin on the line so we'll dig deep to understand what happened. I think it was great for F1 to try something new and even if the race wasn't particularly exciting after the first lap for myself, there are definitely learnings we can take from today.
"This season it's been a struggle with certain elements of the car but we've done such a great job to get to the performance level that we had yesterday - Valtteri did a great job too and we're definitely getting closer. The Red Bull is really difficult to follow on track and from yesterday's high, it feels like a bit of a down but we'll turn it around to find the positives and come out fighting tomorrow for the race."
Valtteri Bottas, 3rd
"Choosing the soft tyres, we thought we might have a small advantage at the start but I couldn't gain any places through the first few corners and from then on, it was important not to kill my tyres because the softs are much more sensitive than the mediums. I suffered some blistering but I could manage it well and I'm happy we tried something different.
"It was nice to have another race today, obviously not as meaningful as tomorrow, but I hope the fans enjoyed it, even if personally I prefer qualifying to the sprint. Tomorrow will be an open race, it's cool that we've got free choice of tyre compounds so we'll see a mix of strategies which should make things interesting."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"That was a pretty flat out first sprint race - it was a frustrating for Lewis to lose a point to Max this afternoon, but we saw that we had the pace to make it a very close race tomorrow. We will need to take a closer look to understand what happened at the start for Lewis - and I think if we had held the lead, we had the pace to finish in P1 as well because it wasn't easy to follow. But it's set up an interesting Grand Prix: there are two teams close on pace, we have Lewis and Valtteri in the mix at the front, and it looks like tyre strategy can play a big part in these temperatures as well. So we will be aiming to fight back strong in the Grand Prix proper."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"It's not ideal to have lost a place with Lewis off the start but we can take some encouragement in the car pace which is hopefully enough to put Max under pressure tomorrow. We also have two cars at the front which will open up some strategic opportunities. After the first lap there wasn't much that we could do; on the same age tyres it was hard for Lewis to get close enough to attack and for Valtteri, he was doing a bit more management to cover for the fact he was on the soft tyre.
"Having the sprint race today does make it a little easier to plan for tomorrow as you've got a clear idea of everyone's pace and how the tyres are behaving so we have a bit of work this evening to take the maximum learning from that. Our goal was to come here, to win and to close the gap in the championship and I think from what we've seen over the last two days, that's still an achievable target."
Leclerc was expected to come under pressure from Perez, but once the Red Bull dropped down the order at the start, the Monegasque’s life was made much easier. He built a buffer to the cars behind and held onto his P4 grid slot with ease. Sainz though, did not have a Sprint to remember. Contact with Russell at the start dropped him way down the field, and he was only able to recover to P11 at the flag. He was later summoned to the stewards to explain the collision with Russell, and whether he returned to the track in an unsafe fashion, with no further action taken.
READ MORE: Leclerc targeting podium push after enjoying ‘flat-out’ run to P4 in F1 Sprint
Charles Leclerc, 4th
"I really enjoyed Sprint Qualifying today. Driving flat out for 17 laps is different to what we are used to and I had a lot of fun. One big difference is that you don’t have to think about saving tyres and can just go for it. I didn’t take any risks but had there been a good opportunity to gain a position, I would have taken it. It was a bit lonely from my point of view, but in a good way because I could keep up with the pace of the car ahead without it pulling way too much.
"Overall, I have liked the format of the weekend so far. It gives each day something special to look forward to, especially on the Friday, where you have more to gain with qualifying than you would on a normal weekend. I think it makes things more exciting, for us as well as the fans. The run on the Medium tyres was quite representative. Even if the fuel level was not the same as it will be for the race, it gave us a good picture of the balance. There is a lot of data to analyse tonight and to learn from for tomorrow."
Carlos Sainz, 11th
"More than a Sprint Qualifying it was a “comeback stint“ for me today. I’m very far from happy because the car had good pace and I was looking forward to qualifying in a good position for tomorrow. Unfortunately my race was heavily compromised at the first lap due to what I honestly think was George’s mistake. He locked up and hit me in the rear of the car, forcing me off the track and obviously sending me to the back of the field in P19.
"I wasn’t going to give up, so I pushed flat out for the rest of the race, did some good overtakes despite the difficulties at this track and managed to recover to P11. It was a strong comeback, but I would’ve preferred not to be pushed off. Anyway, it’s part of racing and we still have tomorrow to try and make up more places. The car is ready and so am I. Let’s race again."
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director
"A good debut for Sprint Qualifying, which provided a show and some interesting points. For our part, Charles produced a great performance to ensure he starts tomorrow’s race from fourth, where he qualified yesterday. More importantly, he showed strong pace, running not far behind the three cars ahead of him.
"It was a shame for Carlos, who dropped back from yesterday’s qualifying position because of a difficult opening lap and a coming-together with Russell, which he could do nothing about. It’s even more of a shame given that he had the potential to make up places rather than lose them. At least he put on a great show this afternoon! These 17 laps have provided us with plenty of data to prepare for tomorrow’s race and that’s what we are concentrating on from now on.
"Before this weekend, we knew the difficulties we would face. From what we have seen so far, the work we have done is starting to pay off in terms of performance, both on a qualifying lap and over a long run. But we will only have the full picture after the chequered flag falls."
Both papaya drivers lost out to a fast-starting Alonso, but kept cool to work their way back past the Spaniard once his tyre life began to wane. Add in Perez’s issues, and that meant both Norris and Ricciardo wound up gaining a place each from their starting slots, which was not a bad day’s work. Battling Ferrari in the constructors’, they should be on for a good haul of points tomorrow compared to their rivals, who have one car starting outside the top 10.
READ MORE: Ricciardo says McLaren have 'work to do’ to fight Ferrari at Silverstone as he targets first 2021 top 5 finish
Daniel Ricciardo, 6th
“That was quite good fun! It’s obviously over pretty quickly, but Alonso having a good start made our race a bit more exciting, so I enjoyed it! The first ten laps were busy, I thought that was cool, so I hope the fans liked it.
“I don’t know what it was like around us, but I hope the order changed up a little bit. I gained a position and start in a better place tomorrow than I started today. That was the aim for today, so I’m looking forward to going out and fighting for more tomorrow.”
Lando Norris, 5th
"A good first sprint quali race! I think we achieved everything we could've hoped for today. We got ahead of one of the Red Bulls, which is a quicker car, but we managed to beat them off the start and over the first lap, so it was a fun first-half. At the end, it was a quiet finish in clear air on my own. I think we now have a good reading on where we stand compared to the other teams, so we know what we need to try to do tomorrow. I hope the fans enjoyed the new format and it brought something different to the weekend. Let's hope for the same again tomorrow."
James Key, Technical Director
“The weekend has been a learning curve with a new format based around sprint qualifying, but we've enjoyed the fresh challenges this has brought. Car specification was frozen for yesterday’s qualifying session, with the parc ferme conditions kicking in early this weekend, which left us with higher fuel levels and tyre compound assessment as the main focus for free practice this morning, both in preparation for the sprint quali and tomorrow’s grand prix.
“The sprint race itself went well for us, with a great performance from our drivers, who both regained a position after getting past the fast-starting Alonso, although this stopped us from making any further progress in the time left. However, we’re placed fifth and sixth on the grid for the race tomorrow and this gives us a good opportunity for some decent points.
“It’s been an interesting weekend so far – the new format certainly adds new elements and a different approach to what we’ve been used to. Being able to push the car for 17 laps flat this afternoon certainly generated a lot of close racing and I think it worked well. It’s great to see so many fans here at Silverstone – always a strong point of this race – and we look forward to seeing the same again tomorrow.”
Opting to start both cars on the red-marked soft rubber really paid off for Alpine, who managed to get two top-10 grid slots for the race tomorrow. Alonso was the star of the Sprint, working his way up to fifth at the start, before losing out to the McLaren boys as his tyres started to fade. Ocon wasn’t able to have quite the same getaway but nonetheless made up three places in a composed display, holding off Sainz on the last couple of laps for the Frenchman’s highest starting slot since Spain back in May.
Fernando Alonso, 7th
“It was a good session for us today and I had a lot of fun. I think we made the right choice starting on the soft tyres and it’s a better position to start the race tomorrow. Our start was good and I climbed quite a few places from eleventh to fifth in the first few corners. We then lost a few positions back to the McLarens and held onto seventh at the end. I think the format was fun but I am sure there are some small improvements we can make. We’ll aim to carry this momentum into the race tomorrow.”
Esteban Ocon, 10th
“I’m pretty pleased with today’s Sprint Qualifying as we’ve gained three places for the race tomorrow and that means we’re starting in the top 10 for tomorrow’s race. It’s where we felt we should be yesterday, so that’s positive. The call by the team to start on softs was good and I had a quick start off the line to gain some positions. I enjoyed the new format; it was fun as it added some action and dynamism to the weekend as well as some uncertainty. Tomorrow we have a free choice of tyres again and that leaves the strategy box open with some flexibility on what we can do. We’re ready to race again and hopefully we can put on another show for the fans.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“It was an exciting race for us, so a very positive Sprint qualifying all in all! We decided to start with new softs, which was a calculated risk, but a good choice from the team. Fernando definitely made the most of the strategy; he did an incredible first lap, gaining six positions in half a lap and then he fought all the way through the race. With Esteban we also moved up a few positions, which is important for the actual Grand Prix tomorrow. It was a good job from the drivers and also the whole team and now we need to try to consolidate our positions tomorrow.”
With both drivers making up grid slots, that can be regarded as a success for Aston Martin. Vettel lost out to Alonso at the start and was hot on the Spaniard’s tail in the closing stages but couldn’t make a move stick, but did come home two places higher than he started thanks to issues for his rivals. Stroll could only make up one place from P15 on the grid but that is still progress in the right direction.
Sebastian Vettel, 8th
“I have enjoyed this unusual weekend format so far. It was interesting to have the intense moment yesterday evening followed by the Sprint today, which can go either way. For us, it went well and we gained some places for the race tomorrow, and some others lost ground. Fernando [Alonso] made up a lot of places on lap one – starting on the Soft tyres – and I thought he would struggle more in the final laps. I was close behind him, but could not make the move to overtake. This result puts us in a decent starting position for tomorrow [P8], which will be a very different race with the strategy options.”
Lance Stroll, 14th
“It was good to make up a little bit of ground in the Sprint, but I think we are still searching for the optimal car balance. It was challenging to make up any further places as the midfield bunched up and we ended up in a long train of cars. The positive is that the short race gives us more relevant data to go over and look to find the improvements we need. It is a long race tomorrow; anything can happen, plus the heat will be a factor, as well as the free choice of tyres, so I am looking forward to coming back stronger tomorrow.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“We achieved our objective in today’s Sprint – to make progress with both cars – which we did. Lance suffered poor rear grip but nonetheless did extremely well to earn a P14 grid slot for tomorrow’s race. Sebastian finished eighth, close behind [Fernando] Alonso, whose Soft tyres were shot by the end, but obviously there was no point in Sebastian risking a back-row start for tomorrow’s race by attempting to wrest P7 from Alonso, especially for no points reward. He will therefore start tomorrow’s race from a solid P8, from where he ought to be able to score points. From P14, over a full-distance 52-lap race, Lance, too, will be aiming to make up places and score points. Our objective must therefore be a double points finish at our home Grand Prix, proudly flying the Union Flag on both cars!”
Russell was in the thick of the action at the start, colliding with Sainz in an incident which sent both drivers wide. That cost the Englishman a place, but he managed to cling on to the top 10 for the rest of the Sprint to claim his best ‘finish’ as a Williams driver. But the stewards did have a look, and deemed him at fault for the incident, handing the Briton a three-place grid drop. As for Latifi, he picked off Tsunoda at the start but couldn’t hold the faster AlphaTauri behind. The Canadian did pick up a place courtesy of Perez’s retirement though.
READ MORE: ‘There was nothing more I could have done’ says Russell, after first lap contact with Sainz in F1 Sprint
George Russell, 9th
"Overall, it was an interesting race, trickier than I anticipated out there keeping the tyres alive for 17 laps. It was very difficult keeping Esteban (Ocon) behind. The Alpine was very fast even on the soft tyre, but we finished ninth on track and my first time in the top-10 with Williams.
"However, it is very unfortunate to get a penalty and I feel that it was a harsh decision. We are still going to be starting in a great position to fight for points tomorrow. We had a really strong race today; it is going to be long race and tyre management will be key, which will be the overriding factor into the result. So, let’s wait and see!"
Nicholas Latifi, 17th
"It was quite uneventful for me but definitely more intense than a normal Grand Prix. There isn’t a lot of tyre management given the distance, so you just try and go as flat out as possible. In the end, we were just compromised by our starting position as we were unable to attack any of the other cars, and just hanging on to that position. I am still frustrated from yesterday as we shouldn’t be starting where we are right now, I think it will be tricky to move forwards tomorrow and we will have to rely on a few opportunities to present themselves. It will be a long race, but anything can happen so we shall see."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"We’ve had a solid day and remain in a good position to start the race tomorrow. It was a shame to lose a few places with George, but nonetheless he will start the Grand Prix in a relatively strong position. Nicholas has improved his starting position too and both cars are in good condition.
"Tomorrow will be hot, and this will influence the strategies that people will employ in the race. We have some work to do tonight to work out what is the best option for us, but we are confident that we can do that and consequently put ourselves into a position to deliver a good performance tomorrow."
The only team to finish in the same positions that they started, the Sprint didn’t work out for AlphaTauri. Tsunoda dropped places at the start, but did manage to climb back up to 16th while Gasly gained a place from Perez’s error, but then lost that to a recovering Sainz. Considering the amount of drama, that was something of a missed opportunity. The team do often gamble on strategy when it comes to Sundays though, so they might still pull something out of the bag tomorrow.
HIGHLIGHTS: Missed the first ever F1 Sprint at Silverstone? Catch all the action right here
Pierre Gasly, 12th
“I’m quite frustrated this evening, it was just not what we wanted out there today. We started this weekend badly in FP1 and with only one practice session we couldn’t really react to that ahead of qualifying, then today I’ve really struggled again. It’s very disappointing because I know the car has much more potential but so far, we just haven’t managed to get it working here this weekend. We will look at all the data tonight and try everything we can to make our way up to the points in the tomorrow’s race.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 16th
“I’m obviously disappointed with today’s performance, I’m not finishing in a position that I’m happy with and I’m then starting the race tomorrow from the same place. I feel that this weekend’s format is quite difficult for rookies, as you only have one free practice session before qualifying, which is tough, but I hope the spectators enjoyed this new schedule. We’ve struggled with the performance of the car this whole weekend, so we just need to go away tonight and review the data so we can learn more for tomorrow’s race.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“Today was always going to be a challenge. With yesterday’s qualifying not quite going to plan for the team, both cars were starting out of position in today’s Sprint Qualifying and that was always going to be tricky. As expected, a train of cars formed that we needed to make our way through and unfortunately, that just wasn’t possible today. It’s not been a fantastic day for us, so we’ve just got to see if we can recover it tomorrow in the longer race. It’s been difficult for us this weekend so far, compared to our normal performance, so there’s lots of data to review tonight and we’ll see if we can extract anything further from the car tomorrow.”
Raikkonen was one of four drivers to start of the softs – a move that paid off at the start, with the Finn climbing from P17 on the grid up to 13th. He managed to hold that position up until the flag, hanging on to some very worn C3 rubber in the process. As for Giovinazzi, a slow getaway cost him a place to Stroll and the Italian wasn’t able to extract enough pace from his C41 to chase the Aston Martin down in the closing stages.
READ MORE: Raikkonen makes up four places in F1 Sprint despite damage to Alfa Romeo floor following Stroll tangle
Kimi Raikkonen, 13th
“We are better off now than we were yesterday, so I’ll take it: I’ll be in my best grid position of the year and I have to be happy about it. We started on the soft, but I don’t know how much there really is in between the two tyres: in the end, it was important to get the launch right and stay out of trouble and we managed to do it, gaining some places. It’s still going to be a long race tomorrow: we will try to keep improving and bring home some points.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 15th
“It was quite an intense race, pushing from lap one to the flag, but in the end there wasn’t a lot of action after the start. Unfortunately my launch wasn’t great and I lost some places: then we had a decent pace but very similar to the ones in front of us, and that made overtaking impossible. In the end we only lost one place, so we are still in a good position for tomorrow. Hopefully we can have a better start and, with the strategy and a longer race, we can move up a few places.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“It was an interesting first experiment with the Sprint Qualifying format, and to come away from it with a gain in terms of grid positions is definitely a positive. We knew the biggest chance to make up places was at the start and Kimi did really well to make the most of his soft tyres. Unfortunately, Antonio had some wheelspin and couldn’t produce one of his strong starts. After that, it was a matter of not losing the ground we had gained: we brought the car home with a result that equals what we would have had with two cars in Q2 on a regular weekend, so we can be satisfied as we prepare for tomorrow’s race.”
The two team mates clashed at the start, with Mazepin tipped into a spin which left him adrift of the field and out of the reckoning. The stewards opted not to investigate that one, deeming it a racing incident. The German then managed to keep Perez at bay for a few laps before the Mexican got past, so ultimately came home just ahead of his team mate.
Mick Schumacher, 18th
“I think we could fine-tune it here and there to try and make it logistically better for us, to be able to change set ups etc – but I think for a first try, it was very good. I think for smaller teams it’s a bit tougher – we have less time, and we have fewer capabilities compared to other teams who have more people. Unfortunately for us, it was quite lonely out there but still interesting. Now it’s up to us to analyse what we can do better to be closer next time.”
Nikita Mazepin, 19th
“I had a very good launch – one of my best starts this year. The nature of this track means I was on the outside of T2 and then the inside of T3. You try to carry the speed in but the car on the left has a better stopping power and you both try to make the corner but then I had to avoid my team mate. With the pace of the car we have this weekend, the best comparison I have is my team mate and I was a lot faster than him for the first part of the race and then a lot slower for the second part of the race.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“For me personally, this was a good experiment – but it’s not about what I think, it’s about what the fans think. If we come to the conclusion that they like it, then I’m all for it. Our day today was nothing exciting – more of the same I would say – but in the end it was something exciting for this weekend as we had a different format for the race weekend. We learnt something, we have something to think about and we keep a bit of excitement going.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"Today was a chance to try something different with the first sprint qualifying, and although it was a short race, we already saw some different tactics on the grid with four drivers going against the trend and selecting the soft tyre – including Bottas who started and finished third. Keeping the soft tyre alive in a race where the drivers pushed at maximum from start to finish in warm conditions was clearly a challenge, but Fernando Alonso made up six places from his start position initially on the softs, before eventually finishing with a four-place gain. The medium C2 coped well with the rapid corners and heavy loads of Silverstone, which is why we expect it to be the most popular choice to start the race tomorrow. Temperatures are forecasted to be even higher for the grand prix, so tyre management will be a factor, as we also saw today during sprint qualifying where there was some blistering as the teams pushed to the limit."
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