Verstappen flawless in comfortable sprint victory at Red Bull Ring

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Max Verstappen continued his excellent record in Formula One sprint races as he cruised to victory at the Red Bull Ring to secure pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.

The reigning champion began the sprint in first place and rarely looked likely to relinquish his lead as he added to his success at Imola earlier this season in the shortened format.

At their home grand prix, Red Bull will be hoping for a successful weekend and Verstappen's victory provides them with a dream start and eight points, extending his overall lead for the season to 38.

The race itself was delayed twice as Fernando Alonso – who was subsequently unable to start – and Zhou Guanyu – consigned to a pit-lane launch – had car trouble.

When it eventually began, with the length reduced to 23 laps, Verstappen held off the two Ferraris at the start and managed to build up a handsome lead as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz began to tussle with each other.

The top four ultimately ended as they started, with Leclerc beating Sainz to second and George Russell finishing fourth, but undoubtedly the most impressive performance on the grid came courtesy of Sergio Perez.

The Mexican felt his nine-place punishment for exceeding track limits in qualifying was excessively harsh, but he came out with a vengeance in the sprint, taking fifth despite starting way down in 13th.

Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton closed out the top eight as the other drivers who took points.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1.675
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +5.644s
4. George Russell (Mercedes) +13.429s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +18.302s
6. Alexander Ocon (Alpine) +31.032s
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +34.539s
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +35.447s
9. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +37.163s
10. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +37.557s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 189
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 151
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 145
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 133
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 116

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