Max Verstappen believes that tyre wear will be a much bigger factor in tomorrow’s grand prix than it was in Saturday’s sprint race.
The Dutchman put his Red Bull on pole position on Friday with a stunning lap, and he held off the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz on the opening lap before the Spaniard became embroiled in a battle with team-mate Charles Leclerc.
This held the Ferraris up, allowing Verstappen to build a gap, and he held a consistent pace out front to claim his fourth sprint race win since its introduction in 2021.
He came to home to a rousing reception from the Dutch fans who have travelled across to Spielberg this weekend, and he was greeted by orange flares on his in-lap, so he was taking it all in after crossing the line in P1.
“It was great to see and I got a little smoke at the end!” he told Naomi Schiff after qualifying.
“A little bit of orange, but it was alright. I think it was a decent race, we had good pace at the beginning, and I think after that we were very closely matched so yeah it was good.
“It was like a sprint should go, quite flat out.”
The battle for second behind him was ultimately key to the reigning world champion picking up all eight points on Saturday afternoon.
“It was the just the first few laps, of course they were also fighting a little bit so I had a bit of a gap,” explained Verstappen.
“And after that I think we were quite similar in the pace so I expect tomorrow is going to be a very interesting battle again.
“Of course, the race tomorrow is going to be quite a lot longer, so it’s going to be quite tricky on tyres.”
Asked if the pace of the car can be repeated in Sunday’s race, Verstappen suggested there is still some homework for Red Bull to do if they are to hold the Scuderia at bay.
“We’ll find out,” he added.
“I think the car is good, just a few things to fine tune but overall we’ve been really competitive again this weekend.”
Verstappen’s win in Spielberg was the third time a sprint race had been won from first position.