SPIELBERG: World champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull comfortably won the sprint race from pole at the Austrian GP to extend his championship lead while Ferrari teammates Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz almost collided as they scrapped behind him.
Verstappen made a clean start and was untroubled thereafter over 23 laps of the 4.3-kilometre Red Bull Ring, with the Dutch fans setting off orange flares and cheering him on.
Verstappen’s (26:30.059) second sprint win of the season gave him an additional eight points. Leclerc (26:31.734) picked up seven points for second place while Sainz (26:35.703) got six for finishing third, with the top-eight scoring points.
George Russell (26:43.488) collected five points in fourth place ahead of Sergio Perez (26:48.361), who drove superbly from 12th to finish fifth and score four points. Esteban Ocon (27:01.091) was sixth for Alpine ahead of Haas’s Kevin Magnussen Haas (27:04.598) and Lewis Hamilton (27:05.506) from Mercedes, who scored one point the day after crashing in qualifying.
The final positions from the sprint set the grid for Sunday’s race. Verstappen will start at the front as he aims for a fifth win at his team’s home track in Spielberg. Sainz overtook Leclerc at the start, only for the latter to quickly overtake him back and reclaim second place.
The Ferraris brushed each other when Sainz tried to pass his teammate on Lap 6, with Leclerc holding him off. Sainz went for it again on the next lap, going through on the inside, but Leclerc dived back on the inside as the tension rose between them. Leclerc did the hard work and Sainz did not get another go.
Hamilton attacked Mick Schumacher in the closing laps, but Haas driver defended aggressively until the Briton zoomed past him on Lap 21. Fernando Alonso was eighth on the grid but there was a problem with his Alpine car and he did not start. “Five minutes before the start we saw the car was not starting,” the Spanish driver said.