F1 | British GP | Championship leader Max Verstappen on winning the first Sprint Qualifying: 'It's very close again" between Red Bull and Mercedes
The Dutchman made history and increased his championship lead, but had a big scare when his front left brake caught fire after the formation lap
Max Verstappen is the first winner of the Sprint Qualifying. Starting from P2, he overtook Lewis Hamilton, who yesterday won the Speed King award, at the beginning of the race, and lead comfortably all the 17 race laps, securing pole position, the fourth in a row and his first one in England, and three points.But it wasn't a day without worries for Verstappen, as his brake emitted flames after the formation lap. The Red Bull driver admitted after the session that it definitely was a concerning moment just before the race start: "Yeah, I was really worried. A little bit of fire is ok, but at one point it was becoming quite big and I was just looking in my mirror to the guys in the back [of the grid] thinking ‘please speed up, speed up!’
Luckily it was only a big scare, and some quality photos, as he was able to start normally the race and win it: “So I was not sure going into Turn 3 if my brakes were going to work, but luckily it didn’t do too much damage. I saw a few people in the grandstand making pictures when the brakes were on fire, so for sure they had a good few shots there!”
Mercedes brought upgrades to Silverstone, and the title fight with Red Bull is as close as ever, with Lewis Hamilton getting the pole for the Sprint Qualifying and signing today's fastest, while Verstappen topped the practice sessions and secured P1 in tomorrow's starting order.
He reckoned that the gap between the contenders has been reduced: "What we learned today is that it’s very close again. It’s a bit different – we are quick through the corners and they [Mercedes] are quick through the straights this weekend."
Due to the new race format, teams can't work on the cars on both Saturday (excluding safety reasons) and Sunday after the first qualifying session, not anymore allowed to make adjustments using data from FP2.
The best way to get the most out of his car tomorrow is, according to Verstappen, insisting on its strengths:
"Of course, after only one free practice session and then you are not allowed to make any changes, if you don’t get it right then you are a bit stuck. So we are a bit stuck on the straight, so that’s why we have to make up our time in the corners."
Talking about tomorrow's main event, the Red Bull driver didn't rule out the two-stop strategy, as he concluded:
“It seemed like it was more or less a flat-out race - you cannot really call it flat out, but pushing more. The pace was alright, but I still expect with a pit stop coming into play, or two pit stops who knows, it’s going to be a good fight.”
You're gonna need to keep that watered, @Max33Verstappen 🍃😆 pic.twitter.com/s9WnPOJQAL— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) July 17, 2021