Max Verstappen won the very first Sprint “don’t call it a race” Qualifying. He was on fire (his breaks were literally on fire) at the start of the race, quickly getting past Lewis Hamilton and continued his momentum to a victory. In the early laps of the race, Verstappen and Hamilton were neck-and-neck at every turn with Hamilton trying his best to overtake Verstappen and regain the lead but Max continued to successfully fend off Lewis’ onslaught. Throughout the race, Hamilton was on the team radio to his engineer, Peter Bonnington, to ask for more power because he could not do anything else to catch up to Verstappen. It seemed like nothing helped since Max finished with a 1.4 second gap on Hamilton. Mercedes were hoping to get a front row lockout for the race tomorrow but of course did not achieve that. But, on the positive side, Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, spun during the sprint and suffered damage to his suspension which caused Red Bull to retire his car with a lap left. Now, it will be two Mercedes against one Red Bull for the victory.
Other Stories from Sprint Qualifying
Fernando Alonso had a blazing start to the race on his soft compound tires. He flew from P11 to P5 in the first few corners of the race. However, towards the middle part of the sprint, his soft tires started to fade and he gave up back-to-back positions to both McLarens but managed to fend off Sebastian Vettel to begin the race in P7.
George Russell and Carlos Sainz had a coming together on the first lap in the sprint at Brooklands. Russell’s front right tire nudged Sainz’ left rear tire and sent him off the track. This incident caused both drivers to fall in the grid standings but the damage was more significant for Sainz. He made his way back up the grid from P16 to start the race tomorrow in P11. The stewards indicated that they would review the incident after the session was over. The stewards decided to assess Rusell a three-place grid penalty for the race and will now start in P12.
The tires seemed to be an issue again at Silverstone. For those that are not aware of what happened during last year’s British GP, multiple drivers experienced tire failures at the end of the race among them were Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton. Pirelli concluded after the race that these failures were due to long stints. Well… the sprint qualifying was only 17 laps and we saw obvious blistering in both Verstappen and Hamilton’s medium compound tires. According to Pirelli, the medium compound tires being used this weekend should last roughly 30-40 laps.
I quite enjoyed the sprint qualifying. There were some exciting moments and lots of race-like action. I found that it led to the appropriate drivers being at the front of the grid, minus Sergio Perez’ unfortunate spin that will have him start the race in P20. It didn’t seem like I was the only one; both commentators shared their enjoyment of the sprint qualifying. Both, David Croft a.k.a Crofty and Martin Brundle liked the race-like feeling of the sprint including the feistiness of the drivers. It seemed as though people online were on one side or the other, they either liked it or thought it was boring. As a relatively new fan to Formula One, the spring qualifying made for an overall great pre-race weekend. It pushed back qualifying to Friday which meant that there were consequential events throughout both days. My early opinion would be for F1 to extend this format for next season.