Formula 1 Racing

Verstappen wins “exciting battles” sprint race over duelling McLarens

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Max Verstappen won the 2024 Austrian Grand Prix Formula 1 sprint race after fending off an intense early attack from McLaren drivers, which the Dutchman called a “few exciting battles”.

Oscar Piastri eventually finished second ahead of his team-mate Lando Norris, who paid for not defending better after passing Verstappen for the lead during the exciting early stages.

At the start, after the contest had been shortened to 23 laps as an extra formation lap was required due to photographers standing behind the barriers at the first corner posing a safety risk, per the FIA, Verstappen easily led away from pole ahead of Norris.

For the rest of the opening tour, Norris defended against Piastri, who had started third, while behind Carlos Sainz battled by George Russell’s Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton chased on in sixth.

With Verstappen unable to escape DRS threat from Norris in the early laps, the Red Bull driver was even moved to defend the inside lines at Turns 3 and 4, before Norris attacked hard at the former on lap five.

Having braked very late for the uphill right-hander, Norris and Verstappen went deep, which allowed Piastri to get amongst the action through the following DRS zone heading back down the hill to Turn 4.

There, Norris left enough space on the inside for Verstappen to hit back immediately and retake the lead despite locking up his right-front, which sent Norris slightly wide and creating a gap that Piastri surged into to take second from his team-mate.

The battle at the front allowed the chasing pack to close in, with Russell fighting his way past Sainz to retake fourth with DRS-assisted run around the outside at Turn 4 on lap eight – just as Verstappen was starting to pull away from the McLarens.

The Dutchman finally snapped DRS to Piastri on lap 10 and from there he simply eased away to take his second third sprint win of the 2024 season.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“It was a good first lap,” Verstappen said afterwards. “But then once the DRS opens, it’s very hard to get out of it. Took a few laps, few exciting battles as well.

“But once we cleared the DRS, then I could do a bit more my own race and then it looked all a bit better.”

Verstappen also explained a radio call he made about his RB20 “clipping too much” in terms of the car having to recharge its battery at the…

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