Max Verstappen sees off McLaren threat to win Austrian GP F1 Sprint

The Red Bull star came under intense pressure from both McLaren drivers to seal his 10th career F1 Sprint victory

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Max Verstappen fought off McLaren duo Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri to clinch a hard-earned F1 Sprint victory at the Formula 1 2024 Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Red Bull driver started on pole but found himself under pressure for the majority of the 23-lap race, with the McLaren clearly the quicker car around the 2.6-mile circuit, as Piastri had warned on Friday.

After a squabble for position with Norris at the front, Verstappen managed to get himself back in front almost immediately and later saw off the threat of Piastri to seal his 10th sprint race victory of his career, with Norris settling for third place on the podium.

There was some confusion when the race start had to be aborted, with another formation lap knocking one lap off the race distance, which is set to 100km. However, it was later revealed that photographers standing beyond the barriers at Turn 1 may have created a safety risk.

Max Verstappen leads the field into Turn 1 at the start of the 2024 Austrian GP Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen leads the field into Turn 1 at the start of the 2024 Austrian GP Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

But after the second formation lap, the cars were ready with warmer tyres and so was Verstappen, who got off the line superbly to keep Norris behind him.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, under pressure from Lewis Hamilton after the first two corners, somehow managed to pass the Mercedes of George Russell on the run down to Turn 4 to leap up to P4, while Charles Leclerc made his way up to P7 from 10th after his qualifying nightmare.

Verstappen under pressure from McLaren pair

Verstappen suddenly came under pressure from both McLarens, who were looking quick behind the Red Bull on the medium tyre and moved into DRS range. Norris continued to close in on the Dutchman and tried to force a mistake.

On Lap 5, the battle at the front all came to a head. Norris made a huge lunge into Turn 2 and made it stick, but Verstappen made a bold move to get him back at Turn 4. Norris then lost two places in the space of one corner as Piastri sailed past him to nab P2.

Only a few seconds back, Russell had been eyeing up Sainz for a few laps and made his move stick on Lap 8 under DRS after getting a fine exit from Turn 3, with Hamilton not far behind the Spaniard.

But once Verstappen carved a one-second gap between himself and Piastri, it seemed the battle for the victory was over. But it wasn’t over between Piastri and Norris, as the latter reeled in his younger team-mate.

Russell saw off a brief fightback from Sainz to hold onto P4, with Hamilton settling for sixth ahead of Leclerc and Sergio Perez, who took the final position in the points.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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