A Verstappen masterclass sees him dominate Sprint Race ahead of Perez and Sainz

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It’s Sprint Race time at the Red Bull Ring, and it will be the first ever to run in wet track conditions. Home team drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will start from the front row, followed by McLaren’s Lando Norris and Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg, who has been penalised with a fine after driving over his tyre during qualifying when exiting his box.

Charles Leclerc has received a three places grid penalty due to impeding Oscar Piastri in the Sprint Shootout, and will thus start from P9.

Ahead of the race, a minute of silence was issued to pay respect for the tragic passing of FRECA driver Dilano Van ‘T Hoff during Race 2 earlier at Spa.

All the drivers will start the Sprint Race on intermediate tyres bar for Valtteri Bottas, who will instead go out on mediums.

At the start, Perez goes for the lead, having to fend off his teammate’s efforts. On the exit of turn 1, the Mexican puts his teammate on the grass. Verstappen manages to return to the lead by slightly forcing Perez off track into turn 3 as he lunged it down the inside, as Hulkenberg takes advantage of the duel and moves up to P2.

Photo credits: Red Bull Racing

The Mercedes drivers moved up quite a bit as well, with Russell and Hamilton in P12 and P13 in spite of their starting positions of P15 and P18. While battling with Kevin Magnussen for P11, Russell almost ran into the back of the Haas driver’s car.

Another big mover is Albon, up to P7, whereas Lando Norris was swallowed up by the group and is starting Lap 4 in P10, dropping behind the likes of Ocon and Leclerc. The Ferrari driver tried to overtake Esteban Ocon for P8, but was shortly after passed again by the French driver into turn 6 in an aggressive fight.

After some tense moments at the beginning of the race, Verstappen leads Hulkenberg by 2.4s on Lap 5 as the rain has officially stopped, gap increased to 5.5s by Lap 9. The German driver has a 1.5s advantage on Perez in P3.

Asked by his team on the radio, Alonso said he believes that the track will actually dry enough to change tyres before the end of the 24 laps of this race, but right now, according to race leader Verstappen, it’s still time for inters.

On lap 9 Russell passes Magnussen for P11 after a couple of very close corners, and on the lap after it’s Hamilton’s turn to win the fight with the Dane.

A tour later Perez gets closer to Hulkenberg, bringing Carlos Sainz along with him as well, and the following lap the Red Bull driver is back to his starting position, while further back down the order Norris strikes again on Leclerc, but it’s short-lived.

Sainz swiftly passes Hulkenberg for the final podium position on Lap 13, with the Haas driver 3s ahead of Stroll suffering from severe tyre degradation.

Leclerc tried to overtake Ocon for the final points scoring position on the inside at turn 4, but they almost collided on exit. The Frenchman held on into turn 6. The Ferrari is then passed by Norris as he ran wide at the final corner.

On lap 16 Russell is the first driver to stop for slick tyres just as DRS is enabled. Piastri, Hulkenberg and Hamilton follow him in a lap later. Piastri and Hamilton opt for softs, whereas Hulkenberg goes for mediums.

Many more drivers at the front of the field stop, included Albon and Leclerc, with the Thai driver still ahead of the Ferrari driver in spite of a slow stop. Leclerc passed by Hamilton, on warmer tyres. The only drivers yet to stop are the top 7 runners and Gasly, with Hulkenberg in P8.

Hamilton also passed Albon, after a chaotic moment that saw Bottas squeezed in between the seven times world champion and Leclerc, who dropped to P14. Russell overtakes Gasly for P9.

Piastri completed an impressive double overtake on Leclerc and Albon, with the Ferrari driver getting ahead of the Williams driver.

Russell signs the fastest lap in the 1:10s and gets past Norris for the final points scoring position. He missed out by 0.009s on getting Ocon for 7th.

Verstappen takes his first sprint race win of the season ahead of Perez and Sainz, who will join him on the podium. The last racing lap saw Alonso closing up on Stroll to try and get P4, but in the end the Canadian driver managed to hold on to his position.

Hulkenberg in P6, who has also signed the fastest lap on the last lap of the session, Ocon and Russell conclude the top 8 and will bring back home points.