So much for the procession Lewis Hamilton predicted.

Uneventful was the seven-time champion’s suspicion in the build-up here. He started first, finished second. How he will have wished his prophecy had come true.

What the 100,000-strong crowd packed into the grandstands got instead was a thrilling battle for Silverstone pole that was eventually won by his title rival Max Verstappen, who made it four pole positions in a row. Just how do Mercedes stop the Flying Dutchman? Answers on a postcard.

Max Verstappen has taken pole for the British Grand Prix after winning the first ever Sprint

Verstappen got the jump on Lewis Hamilton at the start of the 17-lap race at Silverstone

‘Max is pulling away,’ a despondent Hamilton said on his radio at the midway point. ‘There’s nothing I can do about it.’ It was apt then as it was at the chequered flag.

Worse still for Hamilton, not only will he not be on pole for Sunday’s British Grand Prix, Verstappen’s lead in the world championship has extended by yet another point. Make that gap 33 now.

Nobody could really predict how this, a first ever 30-minute Sprint Race, would go. Hamilton was sublime to come out on top in Friday night’s qualifying session.

The 36-year-old hit back in the best way possible to Bernie Ecclestone’s suggestion that he is ‘not quite the driver he once was’. Based on Friday’s display, no one would have backed up the former F1 boss.

Hamilton had started in first but was unable to keep up with his Red Bull championship rival

And yet here Verstappen flexed his muscles, asked probing questions and Mercedes had no answer.

Twice already this season Verstappen has roared past Hamilton from the start and here he made it three, making a brilliant start off the line to be leading heading into Turn 1.

Replays showed the brakes of the Red Bull driver were flaming seconds before lights out but there was no panic from Verstappen, if anything he was ice cold as he caught Hamilton napping.

‘Is there any more power?’ Hamilton pleaded at the halfway point. The silence he was met with said it all.

It was a terrible day for Sergio Perez who spun off track and was forced to retire at the end

It’s a warning ahead of Sunday’s race. Verstappen was never really troubled after his first corner overtake and if that continues on Sunday then the title will edge ever closer to Red Bull’s garage.

This was as much about The Sprint, as it has been coined by organisers, as it was sorting the grid for Sunday’s race. Seventeen laps packed into 30 minutes. Thrilling overtakes and stunning spins. If this was to be bitesize advert to entice new fans, don’t bet against it working.

The FIA said this was ‘not a race’, at pains to protect the integrity of Sunday’s race. Try telling those drivers what they just went through was not a race. This was as feisty and edgy as anything served up so far in 2021.

Charles Leclerc kept his Ferrari in 4th and superbly held his position over the 100km race

While Hamilton and Verstappen, who is looking for his fifth race win in six rounds, played cat and mouse there was plenty of drama further down the field with both struggling Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez spinning off.

Perez, spinning off on lap six, was fortunate to salvage his run, or so he thought, as he glided off into the gravel. Destined to finish 18th the Mexican was told to retire the car on the final lap. Not a day that Perez will remember with much fondness.

Bottas, who rolled the dice with soft tyres, started third and stayed there, just as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc did in fourth.

Re-live Sportsmail’s live coverage of the Sprint, brought to you by OLLIE LEWIS. 

Here is the top 10 for tomorrow’s race…


Red Bull take the victory in the first ever Sprint race in Formula One history! 

A brilliant start for Verstappen saw him get past Hamilton and from there it was a procession for the championship leader. 

Hamilton and Bottas take 2nd and 3rd while Charles Leclerc remains in 4th place.


LAP 17/17: Sergio Perez has been told to retire the car, a terrible day for the Mexican. 


LAP 16/17: Almost at the end of this Sprint now. Verstappen is taking care of his blistering tyres which have really taken some damage in this heat, but he should be fine.


LAP 15/17: Alonso has been warned about moving in the braking zones, the veteran has been using wily tricks this afternoon but that one did not pass race control.

Verstappen now three seconds ahead of Hamilton. 

LAP 14/17: Vettel is still struggling to get past old foe Vettel. Carlos Sainz has gained a place after passing Pierre Gasly into 11th.

LAP 13/17: Both Verstappen and Hamilton have got blisters on their front tyres with five laps remaining of this Sprint. If it stays this way, it will be a mixed day for Red Bull, with Perez all the way back in 18th after that spin.


LAP 12/17: ‘I’m giving it everything. Have you got any more power?’ Hamilton asks his radio, he receives no positive response.

George Williams is stalking behind the Alonso – Vettel battle for 7th. 


LAP 11/17: Hamilton posts fastest lap but he just doesn’t have the power to challenge Verstappen right now. Important to note that, unlike the Grand Prix, there are no bonus points for fastest lap in the Sprint. 

Alonso is dropping like a stone now, Vettel is closing on the Alpine. 


LAP 10/17: Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz has passed Kimi Raikkonen into 12th. The Finn has done fantastically to go from 17th to 13th but his soft tyres may be problematic as this Sprint develops.

Sainz’s team-mate Charles Leclerc has done brilliantly to hold onto his 4th position. 


LAP 9/17: Over halfway through the Sprint now as Max Verstappen posts the fastest lap time, it looks like there’ll be no stopping him from gaining pole today.

Ricciardo has now passed Alonso, the Spaniard fights back but the Aussie protects his position superbly. 


LAP 8/17: Ricciardo is hoping to become the second McLaren to pass Alonso this afternoon, he is half a second behind the Alpine. 

Meanwhile, race control will investigate an incident between Russell and Sainz after the race, the pair came into contact earlier in this Sprint. 


LAP 7/17: Verstappen is now 1.6 seconds ahead of Hamilton who appears resigned to the fact that he will not be able to bypass the championship leader today. 

LAP 6/17: Perez appears to have got caught in the dirty air behind a train of cars, causing him to lose control. Norris has now passed Alonso into 5th place, good work from the youngster.


LAP 5/17: Lando Norris tries to dive into the corner ahead of Alonso but the opening is not there for the young Brit to get past the Spanish veteran. 

Perez has spun off the track! This is horrendous for the Red Bull star as he stumbles back onto the track. What a nightmare for Red Bull.

LAP 4/17: Verstappen posts the fastest lap and Hamilton is frustratingly unable to use DRS as he is still over a second behind his championship rival. Norris, Perez and Ricciardo will be trying to get past Alonso in 5th before the end of this season. 


LAP 3/17: Friday’s driver of the day, George Russell, has slipped down to 10th while Sergio Perez puts the pressure on Lando Norris in 6th. 

LAP 2/17: Verstappen has opened up a 1.1 second lead over Hamilton as replays show the Red Bull star’s front left brake was FLAMING at the starting line but the pressure on those front tyres helped launch him ahead of Hamilton.


LAP 1/17: Hamilton comes back at Verstappen but the Red Bull star shuts the door on the Mercedes man. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez moves past Daniel Ricciardo into 7th while Fernando Alonso is up to 5th!


Lights out and the first ever Sprint is under way at Silverstone! It’s a fantastic start for Max Verstappen who goes into turn 1 AHEAD of Lewis Hamilton! Nikita Mazepin spins at the back and there are yellow flags but we are back on green.

Here we go, then!

We are moments away from the first of three trial ‘Sprint’ events for the 2021 season. A reminder of how the top 10 looks on this scorching day at Silverstone…

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1 minute, 26.134 seconds.

2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:26.209

3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:26.328

4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:26.828

5. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 1:26.844

6. Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:26.897

7. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1:26.899

8. George Russell, Williams, 1:26.971

9. Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, 1:27.007

10. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, 1:27.179

10 minutes to go until the inaugural Sprint!

Not long to go now until this intriguing experiment gets under way here at Silverstone. 

A reminder that the drivers are racing 17 laps (equating to 100km) to determine the starting grid for Sunday’s race. Points are on the line for the drivers who place in the top three.

Hamilton: It’s go time
Max quickest in FP3, but can he pip Hamilton in the Sprint?

Verstappen was uncharacteristically slower than rival Lewis Hamilton in Qualifying yesterday, but he showed his pace again this morning. The Red Bull star will start behind the Mercedes man this afternoon.

The Dutchman, who will start behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, ended the one-hour running at a sun-cooked Silverstone three tenths faster than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Hope most of these 100,000 packed sun cream. 

I didn’t and it’s fast proven a foolish mistake. A great turnout here, with around 100,000 spectators said to be in attendance. 

Plenty of celebrities walking through the paddock, also. 

JONATHAN McEVOY AT SILVERSTONE: Roars rang out across the old airfield as Lewis Hamilton came out of the title shadows to finish top in qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

‘Lewis, Lewis, Lewis,’ the fans chorused.

On a beautiful summer’s evening under a near flawless blue sky, the world champion set his final time and waited as Max Verstappen tried to reel him in, but he couldn’t quite. He finished 0.075sec adrift. And it was then the giant cheer went up and the flags were waved.  


How will they line-up?

Last night’s qualifying, won by Hamilton, determined who starts where for this brand new sprint race format.

This is how the top 10 looks…

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1 minute, 26.134 seconds.

2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:26.209

3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:26.328

4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:26.828

5. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 1:26.844

6. Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:26.897

7. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1:26.899

8. George Russell, Williams, 1:26.971

9. Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, 1:27.007

10. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, 1:27.179

Fear not, for we bring the ULTIMATE guide to the new format. 

Crucially, there are no mandatory pit stops, it will last for 17 laps and there are points on offer for the top three.


History in the making!

An historic afternoon is in store here at Silverstone. 

The sun is shining and there are 100,000 spectators packed into the grandstands to watch F1’s first ever 30-minute Sprint Race.

Stick with us throughout for all the thrills and spills of this race, which gets underway at 4.30pm!

Max Verstappen makes history to win the first ever Sprint race in Formula One

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