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Verstappen admits McLaren made things ‘difficult’ for him as he reflects on Sprint win in Austria

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 29: Sprint winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull

Max Verstappen is keen to keep on improving for the rest of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend after facing a close challenge from McLaren in the Sprint, with the Dutchman taking victory following a thrilling early battle with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Having made a strong start from pole, Verstappen was put under pressure for the lead within just a few laps when Norris overtook the Red Bull into Turn 3. However, Verstappen found his way back through into Turn 4, before Piastri also swept ahead of his team mate for second place.

READ MORE: Verstappen beats Piastri and Norris to victory after epic Austria Sprint battle

From there Verstappen held onto P1 and clinched the win with a four-second advantage over Piastri. Reflecting on the Sprint after jumping out of the car, the world champion admitted that the McLarens ensured that it was not an easy ride for him.

2024 Austrian GP Sprint: Piastri snatches P2 after thrilling three-car battle for the lead

“It was a good first lap I would say, but then once the DRS opens it’s very hard to get out of it, [it] took a few laps,” said Verstappen. “A few exciting battles as well, but I think once we cleared the DRS then I could do a bit more my own race and it looked all a bit better.

“But you could see they [McLaren] have two cars that are pushing flat-out, trying to of course make it difficult for me, and we had to work for it in that race.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from the F1 Sprint in Austria

“A few things to think about where we could do better, for tomorrow especially, because I think tomorrow is also going to be a longer race and harder on the tyres, so it’s going to be quite interesting to see how that will evolve."

Verstappen was heard complaining of “clipping” as he tried to build a gap from Piastri and Norris in the early stages.

2024 Austrian GP Sprint: Max Verstappen crosses the line to take victory in the Sprint

Asked if this was a potential weak spot, the 26-year-old explained: “It’s just because [they had] the DRS, so they use a bit less energy because naturally they spend less time on the straight, just catching up to me, and I think once they were out then I could go back to my normal management and then everything was fine again.”

Attentions will now turn to qualifying later today before the Austrian Grand Prix takes place on Sunday.

SPRINT START: Watch the opening lap of the Sprint in Austria as Verstappen leads while Piastri battles with Norris

In terms of whether he views anybody else other than the McLarens as a threat for the rest of the weekend, Verstappen commented: “I need to have a look at the whole race, of course I was very busy with myself so we have to look into the data but the others as well, and we’ll see if we can do better tomorrow.”

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