Max Verstappen praises McLaren performance in Austrian GP Sprint Race

Max Verstappen had to fend off an early challenge from both McLaren cars in the initial stages of the 2024 Austrian GP Sprint Race

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Max Verstappen praises McLaren after the 2024 Austrian Grand Prix Sprint Race as the Formula 1 world champion was pushed to the very limit through 23 laps in Styria by both Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.

The championship leader survived the start to lead the opening lap, but he couldn’t break the one-second DRS range as we’re used to seeing him do, leaving him vulnerable on the long straights in Spielberg at the Red Bull Ring.

Norris thought about overtakes on Lap 3 and Lap 4, but they were repelled at Turn 4 when Verstappen assuredly covered off the inside line so on the next lap the man in second-place fully sent it at Turn 3 to grab the place.

But he could only hold the place for the length of the straight at the top of the hill as the triple world champion launched his Red Bull through a tiny gap at the inside of Turn 4 to take the lead back, which he didn’t relinquish thereafter despite Oscar Piastri running him close.

“I didn’t expect him [Norris] to go up the inside of Turn 3,” Verstappen told the media, including Total-Motorsport.com, after the Sprint. “I was struggling with clipping and low grip, so he went for it, and I still had the DRS, and decided to go back at Turn 4.

“That was good fighting. I knew that Oscar was very close to the battle, and I knew that once we were braking late into [turn] Four, on the exit you’re looking around, ‘Where is everyone?’ And then I could see Oscar in the mirror as well.

“So, then I had the two McLaren’s side by side behind me and they pushed me very hard today in the race.”

Max Verstappen leads Oscar Piastri of McLaren during the 2024 Austrian GP Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen leads Oscar Piastri of McLaren during the 2024 Austrian GP Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

What does it mean for the 2024 Austrian GP?

In 2023, Max Verstappen slammed Sprint Races as being little more than a forecast for the Sunday race leaving everything predictable and removing the excitement from the sport, despite more competitive sessions.

So, for 2024, the FIA relaxed the stringent Parc Ferme rules to allow for certain set-up changes as a bid to combat the reduction of practice sessions whilst also to allow some additional variability between the Sprint and Grand Prix.

So will be Max Verstappen be singing McLaren‘s praises tomorrow afternoon? Although the changes won’t create an entirely new balance of play at the F1 weekend, how does he think it will impact the race on June 30?

“It’s close, it’s a tight battle,” Max Verstappen said, praising McLaren. “Ideally, you are looking at a few details of what you can do better.

“But I need to go back to the team and look back at the race as well as a whole and then try to look for improvements in the car where you can change the car around.

Verstappen added: “I got challenged, I got passed, I went for it. I got my place back and we won the race. Is that then a guaranteed win for tomorrow? Absolutely not, because it’s still going to be very close. We need to find little improvements for tomorrow.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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