Max Verstappen has won the first sprint of the season today at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
Drivers raced across 21 laps for 100 km for the first sprint points of the weekend, and Verstappen comes away with the top prize of eight points this afternoon.
Speaking after the Sprint, Verstappen said: “My start was not very good and it took a while to try and put the pressure on.
“We were a bit better on our tyres at the end of the race so I could get into DRS and we had a good fight into turn 2.
“It was fast and pushing quite a bit.”
After leading from lap one, only to be overtaken in the final stages today, Charles Leclerc said: “We struggled with the tyres at the end, so we need to analyse that for tomorrow. It’s life, we will work and come back stronger tomorrow”
Ahead of the formation lap, Fernando Alonso appeared to be stuck on the grid, but he managed to get away at lights out without further issues this weekend.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu’s sprint was over before the end of the first lap after a clash with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, summoning an early safety car – but no further investigation was launched.
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc managed to get ahead of Max Verstappen at lights out. He made his move at Turn One, while his Ferrari teammate, Carlos Sainz, also managed to climb two spots to eighth ahead of the early pause.
It was a disastrous start for the Mercedes men – Lewis Hamilton couldn’t improve on his P13 start and dropped two places to P15 before the safety car and his teammate George Russell dropped one place to 12th.
Racing quickly resumed on Lap Five with Charles Leclerc leading the pack over the line, extending his lead to .9s before the end of the lap.
By Lap Eight, Sergio Perez had lifted his Red Bull three places to P4, after making his way around Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, and Kevin Magnussen. Lewis Hamilton had made his first move in the right direction overtaking the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll on Lap Nine.
Leclerc was continuing to extend his lead over the Red Bull of Max Verstappen – now at 1.2s – and the Dutchman was struggling to get into DRS range of the man in red today.
Carlos Sainz was continuing to make his way up the field this afternoon, getting past McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo in the DRS zone and now only had his ex-teammate, Lando Norris, in his sights in fourth.
Verstappen was within 1s heading into DRS range of Leclerc on Lap 19, but the Ferrari managed to hold the Red Bull off – Leclerc was beginning to struggle with his tyres at this point, however.
One lap later, the Dutchman went round the outside of Leclerc into Turn 1 at the end of the DRS zone and was leading with just one lap to go.
He managed to hold this position until the chequered flag and will come away from the sprint a happy man after a poor start.
Charles Leclerc was in second, Sergio Perez third, and Carlos Sainz in fourth – after successfully lifting his Ferrari six places.