British GP: Verstappen beats Hamilton in F1 sprint qualifying

Max Verstappen won Formula 1's first sprint qualifying race at the 2021 British Grand Prix, beating Lewis Hamilton after seizing the lead from the Mercedes driver with a better start.

Valtteri Bottas finished third ahead of Charles Leclerc, while an early-race spin and then late retirement cost Sergio Perez badly in the second Red Bull.

When the lights went out for the 17 lap race, Verstappen made the better getaway – his initial movement putting out a fire on his left-front brake – and was immediately alongside Hamilton as they raced away from the grid.

Verstappen swept in Abbey in the lead and defend first place with a series of weaves down the Wellington straight and then rebuffed Hamilton's attack around the outside of Copse.

That move cost Hamilton momentum and Verstappen opened up a 1.1-second at the end of the opening tour – on which Fernando Alonso used his soft tyres (Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Kimi Raikkonen were the only other drivers to start on the red-walled rubber, with the rest on mediums) to gain six places from 11th on the grid to run sixth.

The two leaders quickly opened up a gap over Bottas, who took a few laps to join them running in the 1m30s bracket, with Verstappen and Hamilton exchanging fastest laps during the early tours.

By the halfway point, Verstappen had built a two second advantage, as he and Hamilton lapped in the low 1m30s and continued to pull away from Bottas, who was being chased by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Alonso had been holding up the pack behind, having steamed around the outside of several rivals at the race's first corner, then taken advantage of the two McLarens and Perez battling on the opening lap, but was overtaken by Lando Norris on lap six and Daniel Ricciardo on lap nine – the first McLaren getting by with a dive to the inside of Village, while the other got by with a better exit from the tight right hander in their respective moves.

With Verstappen and Hamilton continuing to trade fastest laps up front, the gap between them fluctuated ever so slightly, as they both had to cope with their right front tyres blistering heavily.

Although the tyre issue did not have any major impact on their pace, Red Bull instructed Verstappen to avoid the kerbs in the closing laps – which dropped his lead from a maximum of 2.8s to 1.4s at the flag – where he sealed pole for Sunday's grand prix.

The decision to start Bottas on softs did not pay off for Mercedes, as he finished 7.5s behind Verstappen, albeit solidly head of Leclerc, who was a further 3.7s to maintain fourth on the grid for the main race.

Norris and Ricciardo chased the Ferrari home but were well behind after their battles with Alonso, who was given a warning for weaving down the straights as he held off Sebastian Vettel to the finish to take seventh – the Alpine driver having also been trying to break the tow when defending from the McLarens earlier on.

George Russell finished ninth for Williams ahead of Esteban Ocon, but Russell faces a post-race investigation into a lap one clash with Carlos Sainz at Brooklands.

The Williams driver locked up at the sweeping left-hander and ran into the side of the Ferrari, which was forced off and Sainz dropped to 18th before recovering back to 11th and 0.4s behind Ocon at the finish.

The race's big loser was Perez, who will start tomorrow's race from last place after retiring on the final lap.

The Red Bull driver had been running 18th after losing the rear of his RB16B running behind Alonso and Norris on lap five as they charged through Chapel – Perez going through a full 360-degree, high-speed spin and shooting through the grass and a gravel at the top of the Hanger straight.

He rejoined after just keeping his car from hitting the wall.

The race's other major incident involved the Haas duo on the opening lap, with Nikita Mazepin spinning after glancing the right-hand sidepod of teammate Mick Schumacher's car, which looped the Russian driver around, and he eventually came home 9.4s behind Schumacher.

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 17 -  
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17 1.430 1.430
3 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 17 7.502 7.502
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 17 11.278 11.278
5 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 17 24.111 24.111
6 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 17 30.959 30.959
7 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 17 43.527 43.527
8 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 17 44.439 44.439
9 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 17 46.652 46.652
10 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 17 47.395 47.395
11 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 17 47.798 47.798
12 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 17 48.763 48.763
13 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 17 50.677 50.677
14 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 17 52.179 52.179
15 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 17 53.225 53.225
16 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 17 53.567 53.567
17 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 17 55.162 55.162
18 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 17 1'08.213 1'08.213
19 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas 17 1'17.648 1'17.648
20 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 16    
shares
comments
British GP sprint qualifying as it happened

Previous article

British GP sprint qualifying as it happened

Next article

Verstappen "was really worried" after brakes caught fire

Verstappen "was really worried" after brakes caught fire
Load comments
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021