Despite a strong showing from Mercedes yesterday, today was Verstappen’s turn to take the top step. A unchallenged victory puts him on pole for the British Grand Prix, ahead of Hamilton and Bottas.
Rapid Red Bull
Off the line, Verstappen made a much better start and was able to move in front of Hamilton by turn 1. Despite fears of drivers taking it steady, many pushed hard, none more so than Alonso, climbing 6 poisitions in the first lap. Russell fell from 8th to 10th, with contact against Sainz’s Ferrari, and he fell to 16th.
Verstappen was able to break DRS territory, setting the fastest lap in the process.
Behind, the battle for 5th was heating up. After a phenomenal start, Alonso was now under fire from Norris. While this battle was taking place, 7th placed Perez had a colossal spin out of Becketts, almost hitting the barrier. This dropped the Mexican to 19th.
A few corners later, Norris lunged his McLaren into 5th with a strong move at 2. A few laps later, the other Mclaren made a beatiful move through turn 3 to take Alonso as well. However, the 2-time champion was reluctant to give up the position, with side by side battling all through sector 2. In the end, Ricciardo won out and took 6th place.
End of the sprint
Alonso’s tires were now starting to degrade. He was one of 4 drivers to start on the soft compound and it was now starting to work against him. Vettel was immediately on the back of the Alpine and Russell was catching also.
With just over 5 laps to go, blistering appeared on both Verstappen and Hamilton’s front right tyre. It was not expected to be an issue during the sprint and does not bode well for tomorrow.
Despite the exciting start, the sprint petered out toward the end as cars took less risks based on their tyre choice. Despite closing up, Vettel was unable to take 7th from Alonso, who finished 4 places higher than his starting position.
Perez retired after lapping 2s off the pace for the final few laps. A torrid session for the second Red Bull driver.
Verstappen came across the line first to win pole position ahead of a dejected Hamilton. Despite the performance yesterday, Red Bull have now returned as the favourites for the win. However, Mercedes will have the ability to play with strategy as Perez will not be in a position to help his team-mate.
Overall, the session was deemed a success. Whether it will become a regular feature is yet to be contested.
The race starts at 15:00 tomorrow and temperatures are expected to soar even higher.
Sprint Qualifying results.
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