Verstappen takes victory in Silverstone sprint
Lewis Hamilton’s poor start allowed Max Verstappen to make history by winning the first Formula 1 sprint race at Silverstone.
The seven-time world champion started from the start, but desperately strayed from his marks, allowing his championship rival to pass him before Abbey’s first turn.
Verstappen then kept his cool to keep Hamilton at arm’s length for the remainder of the 17 laps to the flag to increase his championship lead over Hamilton from 32 to 33 points and take pole position for the Grand Prix de Grande- Brittany Sunday.
Valtteri Bottas finished third in the other Mercedes ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and British driver Lando Norris in his McLaren.
“Around here it’s hard to pass but I got off to a good start and fought well with Lewis on the first lap,” said Verstappen.
“We pushed each other hard and had to manage the tires until the end.
“I’m happy I got the three points and it’s funny to hear I’m on pole but I’m going to take it and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”
Over 100,000 spectators were at the sun-drenched Silverstone for the historic race, but local fans were stunned after the opening meters when Hamilton was surprised by rival Red Bull.
Verstappen took the lead and then proceeded to defend his position. Hamilton sensed an opportunity when the Red Bull driver tripped over the gravel outside Luffield on the first lap.
The Mercedes man entered Verstappen’s wake before heading to his left, doing a 180 mph wheel-to-wheel race to the roar of British spectators.
But Verstappen cleverly held the inside line and Hamilton had no choice but to back down.
At the end of the first lap, Verstappen crossed the finish line more than a second ahead of Hamilton. Soon the Dutchman had doubled the gap with Hamilton short of laps to catch up and pass his man.
“I give everything. Do we have more power? he shouted over the radio, with half a dozen laps remaining.
“On hold, Lewis, we are investigating this,” replied his racing engineer, Peter Bonnington.
But as the clock ticked, Hamilton could not make any impression on the Red Bull driver with Verstappen crossing the line 1.2 seconds ahead to deal another blow to the Briton’s hopes of a eighth world title record.
Hamilton added: “I gave it my all today. I’m sorry I couldn’t win, but tomorrow we will do it again.
“I hit the target from the start but it’s not good when you lose early on, but we’ll try to turn it into a positive tomorrow.
“Every point counts but I’m thankful I was done. Max was walking away and there was nothing I could do to hold him back. I wish we could start over.”