(Spielberg Bei Knittelfeld) Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen widened the gap to the championship lead on Saturday after winning the sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman, who was already guaranteed to start from the first place on the starting grid for the traditional Grand Prix on Sunday, easily beat his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to the finish line of this 24-lap race.

Carlos Sainz Jr., driving his Ferrari, stood out by finishing third.

“We had good pace today and I’m happy with my first lap. I tried to save my tires on the drying track; the team made the right decision in terms of strategy and we adapted well. Fourth is a very good result,” Stroll summed up in a statement.

His Aston Martin team-mate Fernando Alonso followed in fifth place.

Perez surprised Verstappen at the start, on a wet track.

“The start wasn’t ideal,” Verstappen agreed. My tires skidded a bit. »

After Verstappen and Perez almost made contact, the Mexican slipped to third place behind Nico Hulkenberg and Verstappen, who in the process took control of the sprint race.

“We could have been in a big fight,” Verstappen said over Red Bull radio. We will have to discuss it [after the race]. »

What they did, as soon as they got out of their single-seater. Verstappen said they discussed the incident “like civilized people” for a few minutes, and there was no escalation.

“We discussed it and it’s all good,” Verstappen said. It’s not necessary to make a fuss about it… It’s fine. »

Then, as the track dried up, Russell was the first to enter the pits to put on more capable tires on lap 16. He was immediately followed by his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, and Hulkenberg.

Charles Leclerc, who started ninth after picking up a three-place grid penalty for pinning down McLaren driver Oscar Piastri during the shortened qualifying — known in F1 as the ‘sprint shootout’ — a bit more early in the morning, settled for 12th position.

Hamilton, who started from 18th after being dropped from the qualifying process in the first segment, orchestrated a strong comeback to finish 10th.

However, he could not score ranking points, since only the first eight are rewarded.

Thus, Verstappen garnered eight ranking points, Perez obtained seven, Sainz Jr. collected six and Stroll, five.

The Austrian Grand Prix is ​​the second stage contested according to the sprint formula this season.

Perez had won the first sprint race in Azerbaijan, while his teammate Verstappen finished third.

Verstappen will start ahead of Leclerc and Sainz Jr. in order in the traditional Grand Prix on Sunday. Stroll will then start from sixth position, ahead of Alonso, seventh.