Max Verstappen took the three points from the inaugural F1 Sprint Race after jumping title rival Lewis Hamilton early on in the Silverstone heat. The race itself got off to a quick start, however, faded towards the end, with a seven-car DRS chain emerging around the halfway mark.
The first F1 Sprint race got off to an electric start, with Verstappen taking the lead into the first corner from pole-sitter Hamilton, meanwhile, further down the pack, Fernando Alonso managed to gain six positions off the start, roaring the Alpine up into 5th place. The Spaniard elected to go with the soft compound of tires for the sprint race, a choice that paid off early on.
Just behind the Spaniard, George Russell was getting himself acquainted with the midfield, as the Williams man made contact with the Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari at the end of the Wellington Straight, relegating him down to 16th place. Meanwhile, there was also contact between the two Haas cars earlier in the lap.
Epic Midfield Battle
The battle would persist behind Alonso, with the two McLarens and the Red Bull of Sergio Perez tracking the veteran down in the opening five laps, it began to be a question of how long the soft tires would last. Just two-second separated the Alpine from the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, showing how close the battle became.
On approach to the Hangar straight, however, the Sprint race would turn into a disaster for Perez, as he lost control of the car, seeing him spin across the track, coming close to contact with the wall. In the drama, Lando Norris managed to take Alonso, with an audacious move into turn three. Perez would manage to get back on track, however, like Sainz was well down the order in 18th place.
The rest of the grid, from 8th to 17th was separated by a little over ten seconds, giving the fans just the intensity and close racing that was expected from the new spectacle.
Five laps later and Ricciardo would mimic his teammate with a sweeping move past Alonso, however, this wasn't something that the two-time world champion was giving up easily, as he stalked the Aussie for the remainder of lap 9. The next car that was lining up the Alpine was Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin.
It was around lap ten when the soft tire runners began to feel the degradation of the tires, with Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen, and Alonso all feeling the effects of the dry Northamptonshire heat combined with the high track temperature. Around lap 12, the middle 10 cars turned into a DRS train, with each car separated by a fraction of a second behind the now apparently slower Alpine.
Following his spin earlier in the race, Perez seemed unable to make any progress up the grid since passing Mick Schumacher for 18th place and with only three laps remaining, it looked like it could be a long race for the seasoned Mexican tomorrow afternoon.
Overall the first Sprint Race in F1 started with a bang, however, fizzled out towards the end. The real winners of Saturday were Alonso and Vettel, with the two World Champions making up a number of places to aid their start tomorrow afternoon. On the other end of the spectrum, however, Perez and Sainz will be hoping that they can salvage a good result tomorrow after both had tough times at Silverstone.
Starting Grid for the 2021 British GP
13. Kimi Raikkonen
20. Sergio Perez