World championship leader Max Verstappen won Formula One’s inaugural sprint race
on Saturday 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
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
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 take 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
With Verstappen and Hamilton continuing to trade the fastest laps upfront, the gap
between them fluctuated ever so slightly, as they both had to cope with their right
front tyres blistering heavily.