Thursday, December 01, 2022

Fastest Verstappen in Austria; Mercedes has an accident

Lewis Hamilton’s and George Russell’s Mercedes crashed in separate incidents on Friday, with Max Verstappen setting the fastest time before Saturday’s sprint, which will determine the starting positions for the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen took his third pole position of the year. It will start like this first in the sprint.

Hamilton was looking for first when he misjudged Turn 8 and drove until he crashed, seriously jeopardizing his hopes of starting first on Sunday.

The Brit, seven times world champion, fell five minutes from the end of the session.

He then apologized to his team, admitting his mistake.

“It was a rough accident, but I’m fine,” he later said. “I am very disappointed in myself. Sorry for the team, who worked so hard to get this car ready. We aspired to be in the top three.”

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As the session resumed, another red flag was raised as Russell crashed at Turn 10. He was also unharmed.

“I’m fine, just a little worried about the car,” which ended up with dents in the rear, Russell said. “You have to see the damage you’ve suffered.”

“I played because I thought I could finish third,” he added.

Verstappen only managed his best time at the end and beat Charles Leclerc’s Ferraris by just 29 thousandths and Carlos Sáinz Jr. by 82 hundredths.

“It was very competitive. It’s a difficult circuit for the qualifiers,” said Verstappen.

His Red Bull teammate, Mexican Sergio Pérez, was fourth, but will start in 13th position. The Mexican went off-track on his final lap in Q2, so all of his Q3 times were wiped out.

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Russell will start fourth, followed by Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher (both Haas). Next comes Fernando Alonso (Alpine), Hamilton moves up to ninth and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) to 10th.

“I’m way behind,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know what can be done from there. But it is a sprint test, I hope I can make up for some lost time.”

Austria’s is the second race of the season in which there is a sprint race, the winner of which receives eight extra points. In the first, at Imola, Verstappen won the sprint after passing Leclerc and then won the race, in which he also took the bonus for the fastest lap. In total, he gained 34 points.

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