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Max Verstappen Wins F1's First Sprint Qualifying At Silverstone

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images/Pirelli


After well-deserved one-week break following three consecutive weekends of racing, the drivers and teams of Formula 1 arrive at the storied Silverstone Circuit for the British Grand Prix. A short commute for many teams who operate home bases close to the track, Silverstone’s combination of high speeds and high g-force corners strain race cars and tires. Last season’s grand prix on the circuit famously ended with winner Lewis Hamilton limping his Mercedes-AMG machine to the chequered flag on just three intact tires. Rule changes meant to reduce downforce of Formula 1 cars introduced for 2021 as well as revised construction used for Pirelli rear tires should prevent similar incident as last year occurring in this latest British Grand Prix.

Providing a new wrinkle to the British Grand Prix was Formula 1's first-ever sprint qualifying session. The familiar three-stage time trial was held on Friday with Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton narrowly beating the Honda-powered Red Bull Racing car of Max Verstappen for the pole position spot for Saturday’s 17-lap sprint race. This shorter distance event at the Silverstone Circuit for the Formula 1 runners will set the grid for Sunday’s 52-lap main feature.

With the premiere of the F1 sprint format on Saturday, questions circulated prior to the contest on the amount of risk drivers and teams would be willing to undertake to advance or even hold their Friday qualifying position. Right off the start, several drivers answered speculation with one of those competitors being the #33 Red Bull Racing car of Max Verstappen. A superior start for the Dutch driver combined with some immediate wheelspin for the #44 Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 race car would change the structure for the front row of the British Grand Prix.

As the young Verstappen took the vital first place position early in the sprint qualifying race, a number of seasoned Formula 1 veterans also found instant progress. Alpine F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso had an astonishing start leapfrogging from 11th place to 5th place on the first lap. Alonso would ultimately settle for 7th place which still represented a respectful four-spot improvement for the Spaniard. Alfa Romeo Racing driver and 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen struggled greatly in Friday qualifying ending the session in a 17th place result. The #7 machine vaulted brilliantly off the starting grid climbing to 13th place. Raikkonen would hold this position over 17 laps.

As some drivers found the opportunity to improve their staring position for Sunday’s British Grand Prix, other competitors would be victims of the increased risk of the sprint race. Qualifying in fifth place on Friday, Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez spun off track on lap 6 narrowly avoiding impact with the track retaining wall. Perez was forced to retire his Red Bull RB16B race car and will be starting the 52-lap main event in 20th place.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. also had an eventful outing in the initial F1 sprint race but would fare than Sergio Perez. Starting ninth place on the grid, contact between the Spaniard and Williams Racing’s George Russell sent the #55 Ferrari as low as 18th place at the end of the opening lap. Sainz was able to salvage a 11th place result at the end. However, Sainz will be promoted to 10th place on Sunday’s race grid following a post-sprint race penalty handed to Russell for the opening lap incident. After finishing Saturday’s event in ninth place, the British driver and his #63 Williams FW43B race car will drop three positions back to 12th place.

Photo Credit: Steven Tee/LAT Images/Pirelli

Crossing the line 1.4 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen not only took the pole for Sunday’s British Grand Prix but claimed three championship points offered to the winner of the sprint qualifying race. Hamilton receives two points for finishing the event in second place while the second Mercedes-AMG driver Valtteri Bottas takes one point after crossing the finish line in third place.

The showcase event for the weekend at Silverstone, the 2021 British Grand Prix, will start on Sunday at 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. eastern time).

2021 Formula 1 Season
British Grand Prix
Starting Grid
Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
4 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
5 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
7 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team Renault
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
9 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team Renault
10 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
11 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
12 63 George Russell Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
13 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
14 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
15 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
17 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
18 47 Mick Schumacher Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
19 9 Nikita Mazepin Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
20 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda


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