Sergio Perez won the first Sprint race of the season, despite Leclerc taking pole in the first ever sprint shootout.
Despite making it into Q2 yesterday, Logan Sargeant wasn’t as lucky in today’s Sprint shootout. He crashed at the exit of turn 16, having carried too much speed into the corner. Due to the damage done to the car, Williams withdrew Sargeant from the Sprint later in the day.
Sargeant’s crash brought out the red flag with only seconds left in the session. This was very unfortunate timing for Yuki Tsunoda. He was on a lap good enough to get out of the elimination zone, but he was only meters away from the start/finish line when the red flag came out, and the lap was not able to be counted.
16. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo +0.334
17. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo +0.509
18. Yuki Tsunoda – Alpha Tauri +0.593
19. Pierre Gasly – Alpine +2.108
20. Nyck de Vries – Alpha Tauri +3.337
Aston Martin’s DRS struggles continued into today, though some Alonso was able to help Stroll get out of the elimination zone by providing him with a slipstream.
Mercedes appeared to have found more pace compared to yesterday, with both drivers able to comfortably qualify for the final session.
11. Oscar Piastri – McLaren +0.032
12. Nico Hulkenberg – Haas +0.411
13. Esteban Ocon – Alpine +0.693
14. Kevin Magnussen – Haas +0.937
15. Logan Sargeant – Williams NO TIME
Though Lando Norris qualified for the final sprint shootout session, he would not be able to set a lap. This is because drivers are mandated to use fresh soft tyres in SQ3, and neither driver had any left.
Once again it was Leclerc, Perez and Verstappen fighting for top spot. Leclerc set the bar early on, and neither Red Bull was able to catch him.
Leclerc had spun on his final lap, though this had no impact on anyone else’s laps.
1 Charles Leclerc – Ferrari 1:41.697
2. Sergio Perez – Red Bull +0.147
3. Max Verstappen – Red Bull +0.290
4. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari +0.555
5. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari +0.590
6. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes +0.805
7. Alex Albon – Williams +1.149
8. Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin +1.313
9. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin +1.367
10. Lando Norris – McLaren + NO TIME
George Russell got away well and was able to challenge Verstappen for third going into turn 1. They battled into turn 2 where slight contact was made, that resulted in some sidepod damage for Verstappen. The dutchman was vocal over the radio about his displeasure over the contact, especially as Russell had won third place.
Yuki Tsunoda had hit the outside of the wall on the first lap, resulting in terminal damage to his car. The debris from this brought out the safety car. Whilst he was able to make it back to the pits, the Alpha Tauri pit crew sent him back out onto the track, though he was only able to trundle around the track before making it back to the pitlane to retire.
When the race resumed Verstappen spared no time in getting back passed Russell, with Sainz and Alonso making overtakes on Hamilton right behind.
Perez was able to get passed Leclerc on lap 8, where he would lead the Sprint from then on. Leclerc did well to try and hold on to Perez’s DRS for as long as possible, and utilised it well to defend against Verstappen behind.
However Verstappen was unable to catch up to Leclerc even once the Monegasque fell out of Perez’s DRS range, with the sidepod damage affecting the Red Bull’s performance.
Further behind the soft runners of Bottas, Ocon and Norris found their tyres dying off very quickly, and they weren’t able to make any gains through the field.
Despite winning the Sprint, the new format means that Perez will still be starting from third, where he qualified yesterday. Leclerc’s second place earned him seven points, which is more points than he scored throughout the rest of the season so far.