British GP: Verstappen beats Hamilton in F1 sprint qualifying

Max Verstappen won Formula 1's first sprint qualifying race at the 2021 British Grand Prix, beating Lewis Hamilton after seizing the lead from the Mercedes driver with a better start.

Valtteri Bottas finished third ahead of Charles Leclerc, while an early-race spin and then late retirement cost Sergio Perez badly in the second Red Bull.

When the lights went out for the 17 lap race, Verstappen made the better getaway – his initial movement putting out a fire on his left-front brake – and was immediately alongside Hamilton as they raced away from the grid.

Verstappen swept in Abbey in the lead and defend first place with a series of weaves down the Wellington straight and then rebuffed Hamilton's attack around the outside of Copse.

That move cost Hamilton momentum and Verstappen opened up a 1.1-second at the end of the opening tour – on which Fernando Alonso used his soft tyres (Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Kimi Raikkonen were the only other drivers to start on the red-walled rubber, with the rest on mediums) to gain six places from 11th on the grid to run sixth.

The two leaders quickly opened up a gap over Bottas, who took a few laps to join them running in the 1m30s bracket, with Verstappen and Hamilton exchanging fastest laps during the early tours.

By the halfway point, Verstappen had built a two second advantage, as he and Hamilton lapped in the low 1m30s and continued to pull away from Bottas, who was being chased by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Alonso had been holding up the pack behind, having steamed around the outside of several rivals at the race's first corner, then taken advantage of the two McLarens and Perez battling on the opening lap, but was overtaken by Lando Norris on lap six and Daniel Ricciardo on lap nine – the first McLaren getting by with a dive to the inside of Village, while the other got by with a better exit from the tight right hander in their respective moves.

With Verstappen and Hamilton continuing to trade fastest laps up front, the gap between them fluctuated ever so slightly, as they both had to cope with their right front tyres blistering heavily.

Although the tyre issue did not have any major impact on their pace, Red Bull instructed Verstappen to avoid the kerbs in the closing laps – which dropped his lead from a maximum of 2.8s to 1.4s at the flag – where he sealed pole for Sunday's grand prix.

The decision to start Bottas on softs did not pay off for Mercedes, as he finished 7.5s behind Verstappen, albeit solidly head of Leclerc, who was a further 3.7s to maintain fourth on the grid for the main race.

Norris and Ricciardo chased the Ferrari home but were well behind after their battles with Alonso, who was given a warning for weaving down the straights as he held off Sebastian Vettel to the finish to take seventh – the Alpine driver having also been trying to break the tow when defending from the McLarens earlier on.

George Russell finished ninth for Williams ahead of Esteban Ocon, but Russell faces a post-race investigation into a lap one clash with Carlos Sainz at Brooklands.

The Williams driver locked up at the sweeping left-hander and ran into the side of the Ferrari, which was forced off and Sainz dropped to 18th before recovering back to 11th and 0.4s behind Ocon at the finish.

The race's big loser was Perez, who will start tomorrow's race from last place after retiring on the final lap.

The Red Bull driver had been running 18th after losing the rear of his RB16B running behind Alonso and Norris on lap five as they charged through Chapel – Perez going through a full 360-degree, high-speed spin and shooting through the grass and a gravel at the top of the Hanger straight.

He rejoined after just keeping his car from hitting the wall.

The race's other major incident involved the Haas duo on the opening lap, with Nikita Mazepin spinning after glancing the right-hand sidepod of teammate Mick Schumacher's car, which looped the Russian driver around, and he eventually came home 9.4s behind Schumacher.

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen
Red Bull 17 -
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes 17 1.430 1.430
3 Finland Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes 17 7.502 7.502
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc
Ferrari 17 11.278 11.278
5 United Kingdom Lando Norris
McLaren 17 24.111 24.111
6 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
McLaren 17 30.959 30.959
7 Spain Fernando Alonso
Alpine 17 43.527 43.527
8 Germany Sebastian Vettel
Aston Martin 17 44.439 44.439
9 United Kingdom George Russell
Williams 17 46.652 46.652
10 France Esteban Ocon
Alpine 17 47.395 47.395
11 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
Ferrari 17 47.798 47.798
12 France Pierre Gasly
AlphaTauri 17 48.763 48.763
13 Finland Kimi Raikkonen
Alfa Romeo 17 50.677 50.677
14 Canada Lance Stroll
Aston Martin 17 52.179 52.179
15 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo 17 53.225 53.225
16 Japan Yuki Tsunoda
AlphaTauri 17 53.567 53.567
17 Canada Nicholas Latifi
Williams 17 55.162 55.162
18 Germany Mick Schumacher
Haas 17 1'08.213 1'08.213
19 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin
Haas 17 1'17.648 1'17.648
20 Mexico Sergio Perez
Red Bull 16
shares
comments
British GP sprint qualifying as it happened
Previous article

British GP sprint qualifying as it happened

Next article

Verstappen "was really worried" after brakes caught fire

Verstappen "was really worried" after brakes caught fire
Load comments
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Prime

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
Qatar's long-term plans for a "World Cup every single year" Prime

Qatar's long-term plans for a "World Cup every single year"

Qatar is preparing to host the football World Cup next year, but will be thrown into the sporting spotlight this weekend as Formula 1 prepares to race in the country. Ahead of a 10-year deal to hold a grand prix from 2023 onwards, it's a much-needed opportunity to highlight reforms in the country

Formula 1
Nov 20, 2021