Verstappen revels in ‘flat-out’ Sprint win after claiming P1 for Austrian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen was satisfied with his Saturday afternoon’s work at the Red Bull Ring, as the reigning champion took a comfortable win in the Sprint, to the delight of the packed crowd of orange-clad Dutch supporters – while team mate Sergio Perez put in a fine recovery from 13th to P5.
Starting from first place after taking pole position in Friday’s qualifying session, Verstappen got his elbows out with rival Charles Leclerc at the start, leaving the Ferraris to spend the majority of the 23-lap encounter squabbling with one another – Verstappen’s lead 1.675s at the line, but with the Dutchman having very much controlled the gap to Leclerc throughout.
“It was good. It was like a Sprint should go – quite flat-out!” said Verstappen, who’s now taken wins in both Sprints this year. “I think a decent race, we had good pace from the beginning and I think after that we were very closely matched [with the Ferraris].
“Of course, they [the Ferraris] were also fighting a little bit, so I had a bit of a gap, and then after that, we were quite similar in pace. So I do expect tomorrow it’s going to be a very interesting battle again. Of course, the race tomorrow is going to be a lot longer, so it’s going to be tricky on tyres.”
Asked if he’d enjoyed being cheered on my so many Dutch fans, meanwhile, Verstappen replied: “It was great to see – quite a lot of smoke at the end there with all the orange, but it was alright.”
While Verstappen’s afternoon was relatively straightforward, team mate Perez’s was not, after the Mexican was demoted from P4 to P13 on the Sprint grid for a Q2 track limits infringement. But Perez made the best of it, working his way up to P5 as he finished behind Verstappen, the two Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz, and the Mercedes of George Russell.
“I think that was the maximum we could possibly do,” said Sainz. “I think while we cleared [a lot of cars], George was a bit too far ahead, so it was the best we could do in terms of damage limitation. Looking forward, I think we can fight from there and get onto the podium from those positions… That will be the target. So hopefully we’re able to succeed on that.”
Verstappen’s eight points for his Sprint win, meanwhile, meant he increased his lead over Perez in the drivers’ standings to 38 points.