Verstappen takes pole with blistering Sprint win

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during the Sprint for the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 17, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen took pole position for Sunday’s Formula 1 British Grand Prix by winning the very first 17-lap F1 Sprint race followed by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

F1’s first Sprint was designed to mix the weekend up and put a little more racing and energy into a Grand Prix event. There was mixed reaction to the program and mainly because no one could decide whether to call it a race or not.

There were also questions about the overarching cost/benefit analysis the teams would naturally do in determining just how hard they would push during the Sprint in order to get a good starting position for the race. Push too hard and you could end up with damage or at the back of the grid like Sergio Perez did by spinning early on in the race.

This left the mid-field with less to lose by pushing and push they did. Some nice battles for 6th-11th place. Hammering a 17-lap race into the weekend was not without its challenges and even ESPN, here in the US, seemed put out by having to cover the session cutting immediately out of the broadcast at 14 minutes past the hour. I guess they didn’t buy any of the post race commentary from Sky.

One thing the Sprint did show us is that the blistering on the Pirelli tires for Verstappen and Hamilton might suggest a very difficult day in the office on Sunday and most likely a 2-stopper race.

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charlie w

I found the Sprint rather underwhelming overall. Long or short distance, it were the same podium regulars. Yes, we saw some action further down the grid but we get that every race. I can see fans not watch Friday qualifying knowing the grid may change after the Saturday sprint. I believe the format needs further changes to become compelling and, dare I say it, “entertaining”. Start all the cars on the hard tire compound. Deactivate DRS completely for the sprint or allow drivers to use it freely(like they do in practice sessions) outside the DRS zones. I understand the sport… Read more »

Pat Goodman

Joining the chorus, I found the sprint format not worth the effort. As stated by Vettel, the records will require an asterisk as the starting grid position was not set by time in a elimination system. Friday did not have a qualifying as that term is reserved for starting grid placement. The 17 laps on Saturday, with inherent damage (Perez), was not a race. Then in the 17 laps, the results were, except for the start and first 1 1/2 laps, the result of a parade. The post race ceremony, riding in the back of a truck, was long and… Read more »

Paul Kiefer

The big takeaway from this is that Hamilton and/or Mercedes can no longer hold anyone back. We’re going to have to start jumping off this ship and heading over to the Verstappen / Red Bull side.