Verstappen takes pole in first ever sprint qualifying
In the first ever iteration of sprint qualifying in Formula One, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed pole position for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Alasdair Russell reports.
With the sun beating down on a packed Silverstone, Max Verstappen claimed pole at the British Grand Prix in Formula One’s first ever sprint qualifying session, having finished in P2 in Friday’s qualifying session.
In a new experience for F1 fans, the makeup of the British GP’s grid was decided by a 17 lap (or 100km) sprint race, which brought about a good deal of wheel to wheel racing. There are set to be two more races at which sprint qualifying will be trialled this season, with Monza being the next.
While Verstappen got away the quickest and could fire past Lewis Hamilton into P1, the standout of the session was Fernando Alonso, who managed to shoot up from P11 on the grid to P5 within half a lap. Sergio Pérez discovered the potential perils of the format with a clumsy spin, from which he was lucky not to end up in the barriers – he will start the race tomorrow from last on the grid.
With anything new that is introduced into F1, one question is asked more than most – does it work?
Overall, the format should probably be considered a success. It certainly brought a different degree of excitement to the usual Saturday afternoon qualifying session. The action did slightly fizzle out after a few laps, as it is liable to do in a normal Grand Prix, but the change of seeing drivers battling wheel to wheel for a good position on the grid worked nicely.
I do fear that it is a format that will not work on all circuits though. Monaco and Spain are two that spring to mind that this format will not work on. But on the whole, it’s not a bad thing to try and it has certainly brought in a boost in figures, with broadcasters already reporting an increase in viewership. Ultimately, we will have to wait and see how it goes at the next two trial events.