Today’s sprint race was one with few surprises, resulting in another sprint race win for Max Verstappen. The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz completed the podium in a short race that saw the top 4 finish where they started. Sergio Perez made a comeback from 13th to end 5th.
The sprint race is always a tense affair, and funnily Mika Hakkinen said beforehand he wouldn’t have liked to have competed in such format, saying the start really isn’t such a fun affair for the driver. Opinions may differ, but this time out, it certainly wasn’t fun for Fernando Alonso has his car wasn’t ready to get going when everybody left the grid, forcing the team to pull him into the pitlane.
Then when Zhou was almost ready to take his place at the end of the formation lap his car just stopped in the middle of the track, forcing the race director to mandate another formation lap. Zhou did get going again but he then returned to the pits to start from the pitlane. Alonso on the other hand didn’t get to start the sprint.
So, after two formation laps things really got going. Verstappen went ultra defensive on the start, forcing Leclerc to back out and enabling Sainz to take second place until Turn 3 where Leclerc got the upper hand again. The fight among the two Ferraris was convenient for Verstappen as the Red Bull driver was out of DRS range by the time DRS was enabled after two laps.
Further back Gasly moved left while preparing to brake for Turn 1, forgetting that he had two cars left of him. That launched him over the front wheel of Hamilton and into the run-off area. Both got away without damage, but Gasly of course dropped to the very back while Hamilton stayed on track and continued in 11th to start his was up through the field.
Perez, starting from 13th, profited from the events and found himself in 8th after one lap. The Mexican went on to pass the closely matched Haas drivers as they were busy fighting each other and moved up into 5th place when passing Ocon on lap 11.
In the early parts of the race, Sainz followed very closely to Leclerc and attempted an overtake in Turn 3 of lap 5, but with Leclerc on the inside, the latter chose to brake late and take the corner very wide, forcing his Spanish team mate to back out, much to his frustration. The issue was Sainz drop a second behind his teammate after which he had trouble coming back again.
With positions at the front somewhat fixed it was Schumacher and Hamilton who drew the attention as they fought for 8th. Schumacher was able to defend for a long time thanks to getting DRS from Magnussen, but the first lap that Mick had none anymore, Hamilton breezed past to take the final point in this sprint.
By then, Bottas was very close, but he didn’t manage to get past, finishing in 10th.
So, not much happened overall. The top 4 finished where they started, and some cars that were out of position managed to move up a bit towards their natural positions on the grid.
Former Champions Vettel and Alonso both retired with technical issues, so they’ll be looking forward for another chance tomorrow.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||23||26:30.059||8|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||23||+18.302s||4|
|6||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||23||+31.032s||3|
|7||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||23||+34.539s||2|
|9||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||23||+37.163s||0|
|10||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||23||+37.557s||0|
|11||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||23||+38.580s||0|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||23||+39.738s||0|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||23||+48.241s||0|
|14||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||23||+50.753s||0|
|15||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||23||+52.125s||0|
|16||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||23||+52.412s||0|
|17||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||23||+54.556s||0|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||23||+68.694s||0|
|19||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||21||DNF||0|
|NC||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||0||DNS||0|
Note – Albon received a five-second time penalty for forcing another driver off track.
Bottas required to start the Grand Prix from back of grid for use of additional power unit elements.