Monday, May 27, 2024

Verstappen Takes Dominant Win in Austrian Grand Prix Sprint after Pérez Controversy

Max Verstappen took a dominant win in a wet-to-dry Austrian Grand Prix Sprint Race today after a rather controversial opening lap with his teammate Sergio Pérez, which saw both drivers squabbling and squeezing each other for the lead.

Carlos Sainz Jr. took the final place on the podium, and further down the grid there was plenty of exciting racing action with some drivers choosing to pit and go onto slicks with the track drying up towards the end.

What Happened in the Sprint Race?

The opening lap saw some brilliant Formula 1 action. Verstappen started on pole position for the Sprint after a great performance earlier in the day in the Sprint shootout, but it was Pérez who got the better start off the line. Verstappen squeezed the Mexican on the run to turn one, but Pérez took the lead on the inside, there was a controversial moment on the exit on Turn One with Pérez seemingly pushing Verstappen onto the grass, which could have ended so much worse than it did, with both drivers coming away with no damage.

The Oracle Red Bull Racing duo continued to battle on the run to Turn Three, Verstappen sent it up the inside but went deep pushing Pérez off the track and into the run-off area. The Mexican rejoined the track and continued to battle Verstappen but the latter took the lead going into Turn Four and never looked back, going on to win the race.

The action at Turn Three saw plenty of overtakes behind the Red Bulls, Nico Hülkenberg managed to push his way through and battled with the two Red Bulls on the run to Turn Four later getting ahead of Pérez to move into second place. While Hülkenberg managed to gain from the conditions and action at Turn Three, Lando Norris lost out and fell all the down to tenth.

Verstappen surged ahead in the lead, while Pérez struggled to pass Hülkenberg due to the lack of DRS. Finally on Lap Twelve Pérez eventually managed to overtake Hulkenberg, just as Sainz joined the battle. Sainz had an easier time and quickly secured a podium position making a move on Hülkenberg, who was struggling with his intermediate tyres.

Meanwhile, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc, and Norris engaged in a prolonged fight for eighth place, while the Mercedes cars patiently waited behind them, ready to capitalize on any mistakes. On Lap Sixteen, Norris successfully overtook Leclerc for ninth place with a nice move, while George Russell and Oscar Piastri became the first drivers to make pit stops on to slick tyres. Haas F1 Team made an interesting call to bring Hülkenberg in for a tyre change, dropping him to twelfth place.

As Russell set the fastest sectors, Lewis Hamilton, Alex Albon, and Leclerc followed suit. However, with only a few laps remaining in the Sprint, the frontrunners were reluctant to sacrifice their points positions by switching to slick tyres and having to navigate through the field.

Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

In the end, Verstappen finished 21 seconds ahead of Perez, with Sainz securing third place. Aston Martin Armaco Cognizant F1 Team claimed fourth and fifth places with Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso respectively, while Hülkenberg, who had changed tires, finished in sixth place for Haas, with two overtakes on the last two laps.

A big battle between Ocon and Russell came down to the wire, but Ocon managed to hold off the charging Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team driver on the faster soft tyres by a mere 0.009 seconds.

Norris had a disappointing race dropping to ninth and finishing with no points after starting in third on the grid. Despite not finishing in the points, Hamilton showed some promising pace coming from eighteenth to tenth.

Pérez and Verstappen Provide Controversial Battle

The biggest story of the Sprint race was clearly the controversial battle between Verstappen and Pérez on Lap One, and it has raised many questions with both drivers claiming the other one was at fault for both of the incidents in Turn One and Turn Three.

Both Red Bull drivers were clearly unimpressed with each other. Verstappen accused Pérez of pushing him off the track and put a radio message back to his team saying: “He pushed me off man what the f***?”

The Mexican was also clearly angered by his teammates driving going into Turn Three and said to his team over the radio: “What is wrong with Max, man?”

What’s Up Next?

The full Grand Prix is up next tomorrow, and if the excitement is just as good as the Sprint race today, then we’ll be in for a treat. Verstappen lines up on pole with both Scuderia Ferrari drivers behind, while Pérez and Russell will be looking to work their way up the grid after being knocked out in Q2 on Friday.

1 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 24 30:26.730 8
2 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 24 +21.048s 7
3 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 24 +23.088s 6
4 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 24 +29.703s 5
5 14 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 24 +30.109s 4
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 24 +31.297s 3
7 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 24 +36.602s 2
8 63 George Russell MERCEDES 24 +36.611s 1
9 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 24 +38.608s 0
10 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 24 +46.375s 0
11 81 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 24 +49.807s 0
12 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 24 +50.789s 0
13 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 24 +52.848s 0
14 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 24 +56.593s 0
15 10 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 24 +57.652s 0
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 24 +64.822s 0
17 21 Nyck De Vries ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 24 +65.617s 0
18 2 Logan Sargeant WILLIAMS MERCEDES 24 +66.059s 0
19 24 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 24 +70.825s 0
20 77 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 24 +76.435s 0