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Max Verstappen won the first ever sprint race
Max Verstappen won the first ever sprint race

Max Verstappen inflicted more damage to Lewis Hamilton's Formula One title hopes as the Red Bull driver held on to win the inaugural sprint race at Silverstone.

Verstappen started in second for the trial event ahead of the British Grand Prix, but a flying first lap saw him overtake championship rival Hamilton before the first corner.

It was a lead which proved unassailable, the Dutchman cruising to a victory which sees him take pole position in Sunday's main race, as well as three championship points.

Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas ensured it was not all bad for Mercedes as they claimed second and third on the grid, while Fernando Alonso was unable to sustain a brilliant start.

Verstappen flew out of the blocks, with Hamilton, who gets two points for second, unable to compensate when he attempted to skirt around the outside at the first corner only to pull out of the manoeuvre.

Bottas was hot on the tracks of the duo, while Alonso charged up from 11th to fifth with a first lap just as impressive as Verstappen's effort.

The veteran Spaniard was unable to maintain it, though, dropping down to seventh as his soft tyres started to struggle.

Further ahead, Hamilton – who set a blistering time in Friday's qualifying session – was demanding more from his team over the radio, yet he could not close the gap on Verstappen, who held a 2.3 second lead heading into the 17th and final lap.

Hamilton managed to close in on the final straight, but Verstappen was the deserving victor in the first taster of F1's latest format tweak.

There was less luck for Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez, however, with the Mexican crashing on Lap 7, dropping down to 18th before Red Bull called him back to retire in the pits, meaning they have drivers bookending both ends of the grid.

Charles Leclerc came fourth, with Lando Norris capping a difficult week for him personally with an impressive drive to place himself fifth.

George Russell dropped to ninth, though faces an investigation for an early incident involving Carlos Sainz, with Verstappen now 33 points clear in the standings going into Sunday's main event.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.430s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +7.502s
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +11.278s
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +24.111s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +30.959s
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +43.527s
8. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +44.439s
9. George Russell (Williams) +46.652s
10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +47.395s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 185
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 152
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 101
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 93

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