Lewis Hamilton hits out at Max Verstappen fans after Dutchman wins Austrian GP sprint race

·20 min read
Lewis Hamilton finished back in eighth place in the sprint race  - AFP
Lewis Hamilton finished back in eighth place in the sprint race - AFP

Lewis Hamilton has hit out at Max Verstappen fans who cheered his crash in Friday’s qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, calling their reaction “mind-blowing”.

The Red Bull Ring is a stronghold for tens of thousands of orange-clad Dutch fans, who descend on the Styrian hills from Holland every year to fervently support their hero.

Many cheered as Hamilton ended his Q3 run in the barriers but the Briton said he was baffled by their reaction to his accident.

"I don't agree with any of that, no matter what. A driver could have been in hospital, and you are going to cheer that?,” Hamilton said after his eighth-placed finish in Saturday’s sprint race.

"It is mind-blowing that people would do that, knowing how dangerous our sport is. I was grateful I didn't end up in hospital and I wasn't heavily injured."

Last week at Silverstone pole-sitter Verstappen was booed by some of the British crowd, which Hamilton later condemned at the time and he did so again here.

"It shouldn't have happened at Silverstone - even though it wasn't a crash - and it shouldn't have happened here," he added.

Whilst Hamilton spent last season in a thrilling and see-sawing battle with Verstappen in 2021, the two have had contrasting weekends at the Red Bull Ring.

The seven-time champion could only make up one place from his starting position of ninth in the 23-lap sprint race, which sets the grid for Sunday's grand prix. Verstappen, meanwhile, continued his serene progress towards a second world championship with a controlling performance on Saturday, finishing ahead of the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen had grabbed pole position at the death in qualifying on Friday, beating both Ferrari drivers by less than a 10th of a second. But the only remote danger he experienced in Saturday's 23-lap sprint race came on the opening lap.

After an aborted start Verstappen moved across on Leclerc from off the line, firmly but fairly squeezing him towards the pit wall and keeping the lead in the process.

After a battle with the Ferraris in the opening corners, the Red Bull driver was comfortable in the lead. Although Verstappen never stretched his lead to more than three seconds, the victory looked beyond doubt barring a mechanical issue.

“It was a decent race, we had good pace in the beginning. After that we were closely matched,” Verstappen said.

“It was just the first few laps, they [the Ferraris] were fighting a bit. I expect tomorrow will be an interesting battle again.”

Verstappen was helped by yet another on-track squabble between the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz as they battled for second. It was not quite a repeat of the indecision and  confusion at Silverstone but was another example of the team not making the most of their opportunities, albeit on a smaller scale.  Verstappen extended his championship lead to 38 points over Perez and 44 over the Monegasque with a win on his favoured track.

Heading into this weekend, Leclerc and Sainz were separated by just 11 points in the standings, which meant Leclerc was no longer Ferrari’s clear and outright championship challenger. Leclerc appeared frustrated after the sprint, but said that his fight with Sainz might not have proved critical to ultimately overhauling Verstappen.

"We cannot afford what we did today," Leclerc said. When asked how much time he left battling his team-mate he replied “a little bit”.

“Whether this was enough to get the win I don’t think so. We will never know what would have happened but today is what it is,” he added.

There was, at least, some optimism that Ferrari could take the fight to Verstappen for Sunday’s race. But should they manage to do that on genuine race pace and not with favourable fortune as last week, it will be a feat that we have not seen from Ferrari on race day for a while.

Most of the notable action came in the midfield. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez surged from 13th on the grid to finish fifth, scything through the field with ease on the undulating Spielberg track. It showed just how much pace is in the RB18.

 Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing leads the pack into turn 1 during the Sprint Race of the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, 09 July 2022. Formula One Grand Prix of Austria -  - SHUTTERSTOCK
Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing leads the pack into turn 1 during the Sprint Race of the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, 09 July 2022. Formula One Grand Prix of Austria - - SHUTTERSTOCK

His comeback drive was in stark contrast to Hamilton’s. The Briton started ninth but only made up one place by the chequered flag. He started poorly, dropping back two places on the opening lap after being caught up in an incident at the first corner. After overtaking Alexander Albon and Valtteri Bottas early on, he spent much of the race behind the Haas of Mick Schumacher.

Aside from Leclerc vs Sainz, Hamilton’s scrap with Schumacher was the most notable duel of the afternoon. Several times Hamilton had closed up to the rear wing of the Haas, but either was not close enough - or felt it too risky - to try an overtake.

It was not until lap 21 when he made his move and made it count with a smart overtake around the outside at turn four. Hamilton said he felt there was “something not right” with his car, but also pointed to the strength of Ferrari power on the straights.

With his eighth place he secured a single championship point, but lost further ground to team-mate George Russell. Going by the pace the Ferrari and Red Bulls showed on Saturday, though, the chances of a third Hamilton podium in succession look remote without the intervention of crashes, safety cars or red flags.

It is Russell who will represent Mercedes’ best hopes for a top-three finish, though, he ended a lonely race in fourth, exactly where he started, and 13.4 seconds adrift after just 23 racing laps.

Austrian Grand Prix sprint race, classification

  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull

  2. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

  3. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

  4. George Russell, Mercedes

  5. Sergio Perez, Red Bull

  6. Esteban Ocon, Alpine

  7. Kevin Magnussen, Haas

  8. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

  9. Mick Schumacher, Haas

  10. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

  11. Lando Norris, McLaren

  12. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

  13. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

  14. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo

  15. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri

  16. Alexander Albon, Williams

  17. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

  18. Nicholas Latifi, Williams
    DNF: Fernando Alonso, Alpine; Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Austrian Grand Prix sprint race - as it happened

04:15 PM

Updated driver standings after that

Good recovery from Perez. Not a good recovery from Hamilton. Mercedes just didn't have that straight-line speed.

04:13 PM

Sainz speaks after the race

I had a good start then a couple of fights at the beginning.  It was good fun, like it should be. But then probably overheated the tyres a bit and I had to back off to recover them and finish the race.

I think first of all we need to improve a little bit our pace because he looked to be very strong at the start. Tomorrow is a long race... I think anything can happen. The important thing is that anything can happen and we will try to beat Max.

04:12 PM

Leclerc reacts to his second place finish

It was tricky, the first part of the race was all about managing. I was just trying to control my tyres to attack at the end. I had a small fight with Carlos. I was starting to push but it was very close. I really hope [we can work together] to close the gap to Max.

04:12 PM

Verstappen reacts to his sprint race victory

It was great to see [the Dutch fans], quite a lot of smoke at the end. It was a decent race, we had good pace in the beginning. After that we were closely matched. It was like a sprint should go, quite flat out. It was just the first few laps, they were fighting a little bit... after that we were quite similar in pace. I expect tomorrow will be an interesting battle again. The race tomorrow is longer and will be quite tricky on tyres. We've been competitive again this weekend.

04:08 PM

Was that a good sprint race?

Yeah, decent I think. Battles between the Ferraris and Hamilton and Schumacher the highlights.

04:05 PM

Austrian GP sprint: Top 8

  1. VER - 8pts

  2. LEC - 7pts

  3. SAI - 6pts

  4. RUS - 5pts

  5. PER - 4pts

  6. OCO - 3pts

  7. MAG - 2pts

  8. HAM - 1pt

"Tricky on the tyres," Verstappen says.

"Yeah, we are quick, we can get them tomorrow," he says. Sort of implying that he wasted time fighting with Carlos Sainz. That is a fair point. But they are only 11 points away from each other in the standings.

04:03 PM

MAX VERSTAPPEN WINS THE AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX SPRINT

Eight points for him, and an increase in his championship lead. More importantly he will start first tomorrow. Which is where he started today. Leclerc follows him home, then Sainz, Russell, Perez and Ocon.

04:02 PM

FINAL LAP

Verstappen cruising home to sprint race victory here.

Russell in a lonely fourth behind the two Ferraris.

Incident involving MSC and RIC noted for a starting procedure infringement, whatever that means.

04:01 PM

Lap 22 of 23 - Top eight heading into the final couple of laps

  1. VER

  2. LEC

  3. SAI

  4. RUS

  5. PER

  6. OCO

  7. MAG

  8. HAM

All these men will get points as it stands.

04:00 PM

Lap 21 of 23 - Bottas closing up on the back of Hamilton

But it's not going to be a concern for him any more as he finally gets through Schumacher on the straight to turn four! That should be that... but I don't think he will get Magnussen.

03:59 PM

Lap 20 of 23 - Hamilton on the radio

"The car ahead has gone off at least four times," he says.

Again Hamilton tries it around the outside of turn four but Schumacher hands him out to dry.  I think this is good defensive driving from Schumacher. Doesn't look too aggressive.

03:58 PM

Lap 19 of 23 - Hamilton can't get through Schumacher

Nope. Hamilton can't risk it. He's not close enough again at turn one. Verstappen's lead is down to 2.2s but that's pretty irrelevant now...

Schumacher makes a mistake in the middle sector and Hamilton is closer still. Hamilton get very close running into turn four and nearly hit Schumacher's rear but the Haas is quite slippery.

03:57 PM

Lap 18 of 23 - This feels like a track where you should be able to overtake

But Hamilton does not seem to have the straight line speed of the Haas. He might be this time, though...

03:56 PM

Lap 17 of 23 - Hamilton still not close enough to consider a move on MSC

Not sure what this all says about his hopes of a charge through the field tomorrow. He won't be starting any higher than seventh at absolute best, and that is if he gets his act together with a stunning final few laps here... which doesn't seem likely.

03:55 PM

Lap 16 of 23 - Verstappen extends his lead

Marginally, but he is cruising here. Schumacher closing up on Magnussen for seventh, bit Hamilton is still lurking behind him. Ricciardo questioning whether he should be let through Norris. McLaren suffering a poor weekend here.

03:53 PM

Lap 15 of 23 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. VER

  2. LEC +2.7

  3. SAI +5.8

  4. RUS +11.0

  5. PER +16.3

  6. OCO +20.1

  7. MAG +23.3

  8. MSC +24.0

  9. HAM +24.6

  10. BOT  +26.5

03:52 PM

Lap 14 of 23 - Verstappen leads Leclerc by 2.5s

Hamilton has not yet passed Schumacher. Looks to have much more pace, and I am sure he does, but hasn't been able to make a move work.

He's closer this time heading into turn one...

03:51 PM

Lap 13 of 23 - Hamilton gets DRS on Schumacher

He goes to the outside into turn four but backs out. He's right on the back of him heading into six and seven but has to be cautious here. He will surely get DRS and be patient and get him at turn one...

Alonso has retired, by the way. 

03:50 PM

Lap 12 of 23 - Verstappen leads Leclerc by 2.9s

Seeming like a bit of a formality this one. Sainz has dropped back to 2.5s behind Leclerc now. Perez gets Ocon to move up into sixth, though Ocon starts to fight back into four but can't make a move stick.

The Verstappen/Latifi incident is being investigated.

03:48 PM

Lap 11 of 23 - Top 10

  1. VER

  2. LEC

  3. SAI

  4. RUS

  5. OCO

  6. PER

  7. MAG

  8. MSC

  9. HAM

  10. BOT

Perez up into sixth. Vettel into the gravel at four, puts it in reverse, gets onto the escape road and keeps going. Nice recovery.  Looks like he tried to go around the outside of Latifi. Or Latifi tried to go up the inside of him at turn six and they hit.

03:46 PM

Lap 10 of 23 - Schumacher gets done by Perez for seventh

He was fighting with Magnussen but was caught unawares by Perez...

03:45 PM

Lap 8 of 23 - Hamilton up to ninth now

A move up the inside of Bottas into turn four.

Five second time penalty for Albon for that earlier incident with Norris. 

03:44 PM

Lap 7 of 23 - Sainz puts a move on Leclerc at turn three

But he overcooks it... tries to go around the outside at four again and Leclerc pushes him out wide!

Verstappen is now 2.8s ahead. 

03:43 PM

Lap 6 of 23 - Ferrari getting quite fighty here

There's only 11 points between their two drivers now in the championship.

Russell has dropped back from the Scuderia pair.

03:42 PM

Lap 5 of 23 - Incident between Albon and Norris noted

"Forcing another driver off track," the message reads. Leclerc gets DRs on the pit straight... he's getting closer.

03:41 PM

Lap 4 of 23 - Hamilton gets Albon for 10th

Nice clean move up the inside at turn one. Albon is then under pressure from Norris who tries to go around the outside at turn three. Albon hangs him out to dry on the outside and he runs wide and over the sausage kerb on exit.

Albon keeps 11th and Norris is under pressure from Ricciardo. Leclerc with the fastest lap but still two seconds behind Verstappen.

03:39 PM

Lap 3 of 23 - Verstappen extends his lead

It's now two seconds... Russell is within DRS range of Sainz, who is within DRS range of Leclerc. Hamilton closing up on Albon for 10th.

03:38 PM

Lap 2 of 23 - Verstappen leads Leclerc by 1.7s

Here's the top 10.

  1. VER

  2. LEC

  3. SAI

  4. RUS

  5. OCO

  6. MAG

  7. MSC

  8. PER

  9. BOT

  10. ALB

Looks like Hamilton was caught up in that first-lap incident.

03:37 PM

The Austrian Grand Prix sprint race is go!

Good start by Verstappen who squeezes Leclerc over towards the pit wall but keeps first place... it's a better start for Sainz who goes around the outside and into second at turn one!

Sainz then goes wide at turn three and Leclerc takes second again!

Russell in fourth, Ocon in fifth.  Hamilton down into 11th.

03:34 PM

Alonso starting from the pit lane

We will have lost a lap from the 24-lap sprint.

03:33 PM

"The engine switched off, guys," Zhou says

Dramatic and slow start to the day's proceedings here.

03:33 PM

Tyre starting tyres

Everyone on mediums but Albon, Stroll, Latifi and Vettel.

And now Zhou (18th) has not made it to his grid slot so it will have to be an aborted start with another formation lap....

03:32 PM

Alonso has been wheeled back to the pit lane

More likely an actual problem, hence the tyre warmers being left on. That moves Hamilton up to a net eighth. More orange flares let off in the distance.

03:30 PM

Drama at the start of the formation lap

Yellow flags being waved as Fernando Alonso's Alpine still has his tyre warmers on...

03:29 PM

Starting grid for the sprint race

1. VER 2. LEC
3. SAI 4. RUS
5. OCO 6. MAG
7. MSC 8. ALO
9. HAM  10. GAS
11. ALB 12. BOT
13. PER 14. TSU
15. NOR 16. RIC
17. STR 18. ZHO
19. LAT 20. VET

Reminder that the finishing order here not only sets the grid for the grand prix tomorrow and that points are awarded for the first eight finishers (8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1).

03:21 PM

Grid is getting busy now

A photo of the grid before the sprint race - Telegraph
A photo of the grid before the sprint race - Telegraph

I'll get a reminder of the starting positions shortly.

03:11 PM

Qualifying head-to-heads after 11 rounds

03:08 PM

The atmosphere on the way to the track this morning...

I would describe it as "cheerfully enthusiastic", if you catch my drift. Even at 10am in the morning. It's pretty enthusiastic around the circuit now, with orange flares being let off quite frequently.

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 9: The bull during the F1 Grand Prix of Austria - Sprint at Red Bull Ring on July 9, 2022 in Spielberg, Austri - Getty Images Europe 
SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 9: The bull during the F1 Grand Prix of Austria - Sprint at Red Bull Ring on July 9, 2022 in Spielberg, Austri - Getty Images Europe

03:03 PM

The pit lane is open

Hamilton out there already. Didn't run for a big chunk of  FP2 earlier today.

02:58 PM

Enjoying Russell's blue helmet today

Think it's better than his normal one. Wonder what he can do from fourth?

02:53 PM

How a TV gimmick became F1's latest secret weapon

F1's unstoppable rise to world domination begins with 300 tiny computer sensors on each car and the information teams harvest from them. Read the full feature from Tom Morgan here. 

02:50 PM

Current constructor standings

02:46 PM

Current driver standings, top 10

02:43 PM

Qualifying times

Probably a bit more representative:

  1. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1min 04:984secs

  2. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:05.013,

  3. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:05.066

  4. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:05.404*

  5. George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:05.431

  6. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:05.726

  7. Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:05.879

  8. Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:06.011

  9. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:06.103

  10. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:13.151

  11. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:06.160

  12. Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:06.230

  13. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:06.319

  14. Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:06.851

  15. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:25.847

  16. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:06.613

  17. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:06.847

  18. Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:06.901

  19. Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:07.003

  20. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:07.083

02:35 PM

Second practice times, for what they are worth

  1. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spa) Ferrari 1min 08.610secs

  2. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:08.660

  3. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:08.778

  4. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:08.832

  5. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:08.848

  6. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:09.179

  7. George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:09.240

  8. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:09.251

  9. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:09.350

  10. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:09.519

  11. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:09.525

  12. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:09.579

  13. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:09.602

  14. Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:09.665

  15. Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:09.700

  16. Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:09.740

  17. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:09.852

  18. Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:09.960

  19. Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:10.005

  20. Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:10.261

01:27 PM

Good afternoon F1 fans

And welcome to our live coverage for the sprint race for the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix. This weekend in Austria is one of the handful of 'sprint' weekends, which means the format of the weekend is slightly different. The order of the session is FP1-qualifying-FP2-sprint-grand prix. The most significant session of the weekend to this point was qualifying yesterday, which sets the grid for the sprint race this afternoon.

For a while it looked like like Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes may spring a surprise and battle for the front row, if not exactly pole position, but any Mercedes hopes ended in the space of a quarter of an hour, with both Hamilton and Russell in the barriers in Q3.

Hamilton apologised to his team after the incident at turn seven, where he lost the rear and then corrected his car, but only so much as his car went through the gravel trap and then into the barriers sideways. That brought out a red flag which delayed the session for around 10 minutes, but within minutes of the session restarting, Mercedes team-mate Russell found the barriers, this time backwards at turn 10.

"I'm so sorry guys. I'm so sorry to damage the car," Hamilton said on the team radio after his crash.

"I am incredibly disappointed in myself ultimately and so sorry to the team who worked so hard to put this car together and I never like to bring it back damaged,” Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton of the United Kingdom and Mercedes crashes during F1 Grand Prix qualifying at the Red Bull Ring on July 8, 2022 in Spielberg, Austria - Getty Images Europe 
Lewis Hamilton of the United Kingdom and Mercedes crashes during F1 Grand Prix qualifying at the Red Bull Ring on July 8, 2022 in Spielberg, Austria - Getty Images Europe

The crash means Hamilton failed to set a competitive time in the session, which means he starts ninth after Sergio Perez had all of his Q3 lap times deleted as a retrospective punishment for a track limits infringement. That meant that the good news for Russell is that he starts fourth - which is likely as good as he could have managed, if not better - for today's sprint race. Albeit after causing a fair amount of damage to his W13.

It had been looking promising for Mercedes this weekend. Although they were unlikely to be as competitive as they were at Silverstone last weekend, the pace they showed on a relatively unfavoured track in qualifying trim - with their race pace expected to be stronger - was encouraging.

Still, it was left to the usual suspects to clean up the front row, with Max Verstappen taking a second consecutive pole position with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz within a tenth. The sprint race gets under way at 3.30pm BST and should last for 30 minutes. Let's hope it's half an hour of full-on action.