Ever since this was announced, we have eagerly waiting to see how this sprint qualifying would work. This was a best test for the drivers and Formula One.
It was a very strange to see the cars lining up on the grid, but as the “race” got closer, it was very exciting as this was a step into the unknown for Formula One.
This race would be only 17 laps long and will set the grid for the actual race tomorrow. The top three drivers will receive three, two and one points respectively.
So let’s get into the action for the very first sprint qualifying.
Split choice of the tyres
It was a scorching day at Silverstone and the sun was shining on a very hot track. I would have made sense to start the race on the medium tyres, but it was not the case for all driver. Bottas, both Alpines and Kimi Raikkonen decided to start on the soft tyres.
it would be a risk for Mercedes to put Bottas on the soft tyres but they needed to be aggressive to get ahead of Max Verstappen off the start.
It was the same case for the Alpine cars who would want both of their drivers as high up the order as possible to have the best chance of scoring points in tomorrow’s race.
A very punchy start
Max’s brakes were on fire and so was Max.
Mercedes’ gamble didn’t pay off at the start as Verstappen flew past Lewis Hamilton at the start. He had the lead by turn 1. he was under pressure from Bottas, but managed to keep his teammate behind as he started on his persuit of the lead.
Hamilton first looked to make a move down the Wellington straight, but Verstappen just managed to hold on. Lewis wasn’t finished there though. Lewis lined up his next move on the run up to Copse corner. He looked to the outside, but Max held the inside line and held onto the lead.
That was not the only drama on the opening lap. Carlos Sainz and George Russell had a coming together through Brooklands. This put Sainz all the way down in 19th place.
Mazepin also found himself facing the wrong way and he collided with his team-mate.
But not all drivers fell backwards. Vintage Fernando Alonso came back to life at the start and made up six places on the opening lap. He was in 5th place at the end of lap 1 with both McLarens and the Red Bull of Sergio Perez bearing down on him.
Alonso fought hard, but couldn’t hold on
People who worried about the lack of overtaking and action must have been delighted with Fernando Alonso.
Lando Norris was hounding the Spaniard, and despite Alonso weaving down the Hangar straight and did everything he could to keep Norris behind, Lando found his way past with a great move down the inside of turn 3.
Next was Daniel Ricciardo. Alonso did all he could to keep the Australian behind, but Ricciardo looked to make a move similar to his teammate going into turn 3. Alonso had the inside covered which forced Daniel to the outside. Daniel made the move stick into the loop and took 6th place. Alonso wasn’t done though. He had a go at Ricciardo going through Brooklands and Luffield, but Daniel held on.
Alonso was now under pressure from Sebastian Vettel in the the Aston Martin, but this time he did not buckle and held off Vettel to qualify in 6th place for tomorrow’s race.
Carlos Sainz makes a good recovery
Being 19th after lap 1 of the sprint race is never ideal, but he did a great job to get his Ferrari back up the order.
He was making some amazing moves as he battled through the field. A notable move from Carlos was overtaking Kimi Raikkonen around the outside of Copse corner. An incredibly brave move in a normal Grand Prix and it was more brave today given short the race is and how much is at stake.
His move on Gasly for 11th place was also impressive. He couldn’t make the move into Stowe, but piled on the pressure through the Vale chicane and got the cutback through Club and got the move done as they crossed the line.
Usually 11th place wouldn’t be the worst place to start the race as you would get free choice of tyres, but that isn’t the case this weekend as all drivers will get a free choice of tyres, so it’s going to be tougher for Carlos to make up those places.
Mixed bag for Red Bull
Well it was Max Verstappen who took control from lap 1 to take pole position for the race tomorrow. but the other Red Bull will be starting from the very back.
As Perez was chasing down Ricciardo and Alonso, he overcooked it on the throttle as he was going through chapel and spun out of the race. He was incredibly fortunate to just miss the barrier, but it put him all the way at the back of the field.
He did recover to 18th before he was forced to retire from the race with a single lap to go. It’s going to be a tall order for Perez to make his way through the field in tomorrow’s race.
As for Max, he now has a huge upper hand on the Mercedes. Lewis really struggled with blistering, and while Max’s tyres also blistered, they were in a better condition than Lewis’ at the end of the race.
with temperatures expected to rise again for the race, it looks to be advantage Max Verstappen. However, with Perez at the back, hw will be under threat from Hamilton and Bottas behind.