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Verstappen Wins Spielberg Sprint

Verstappen Wins Spielberg Sprint

FORMULA ONE: Max Verstappen scored a comfortable victory at the Australian Grand Prix sprint race yesterday (July 9) ahead of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

By Michael Lamonato

Sunday 10 July 2022, 09:57AM

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Verstappen started from pole and got a good launch but was challenged by Sainz through the first three corners, the Spaniard having jumped from third to second off the line.

But Leclerc, who had qualified on the front row, was planning on taking his second place back, and a late-braking move into turn 4 was enough to wrest the position from this teammate.

The peace didn’t last, however, and Sainz attempted to fight back. Lap after lap the Ferrari drivers sparred until matters came to a head on lap 7, when the Spaniard protested that Leclerc had forced him wide exiting turn 4. But it was in vain, and his tyres overheating from the repeated attempts to resume second place, he had to back off to ensure he made it to the finish.

It was great news for Verstappen, who eked open a cushioning gap throughout the battle, and though Leclerc was able to shave the buffer down to 1.6 seconds at the flag, the Dutchman’s win never seemed in doubt.

“A decent race,” Verstappen said. “We had good pace at the beginning. I think after that we were closely matched.”

Leclerc, however, was disappointed to be confined to second, and over team radio he complained that his battle with his teammate cost him a shot at victory.

“We are quick,” he said. “We can get them tomorrow. We just need to stay calm in the first part of the race and not fight, because I was saving in the first few laps.”

Sainz finished third and almost four second behind his teammate, lamenting the damage done to his tyres that curtailed his progress.

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“I probably overheated a bit the tyres running there behind Charles. I had to back off to recover them and finish the race.”

George Russell finished fourth for Mercedes ahead of the fast-charging Sergio Perez, who recovered to fifth from 12th on the grid, having been harshly penalised overnight for exceeding track limits in Q2.

Esteban Ocon was sixth ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who saw off Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes by less than a second.

Hamilton dropped from eighth to 11th on the first lap after being sandwiched by Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon.

His recovery was swift until meeting Mick Schumacher, who stood up a sterling defence until the third-last lap, when he was demoted to ninth and out of the points by the Mercedes driver.

Valtteri Bottas finished 10th ahead of McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, who moved up from 15th and 16th after qualifying.

Lance Stroll beat Zhou Guanyu and the damaged Pierre Gasly, while Thai driver Albon was served a five-second penalty for forcing Norris off track at turn 3, demoting him to 16th.

Yuki Tsunoda took 17th ahead of Nicholas Latifi and Sebastian Vettel, while Fernando Alonso was withdrawn from the grid with a technical problem.

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