Max Verstappen admits McLaren’s “two cars” attack during the sprint in Austria meant he had to work for the victory, his team-mate Sergio Perez not in the fight.

Verstappen lined up on pole position at the Red Bull Ring ahead of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, while his Red Bull team-mate Perez was down in eighth place having qualified over a second off the pace.

Max Verstappen overcame McLaren’s ‘two cars’ to win the sprint

Left alone at the front to handle McLaren’s two-pronged attack, Verstappen briefly lost the lead to Norris on lap 5 when the Briton made a daring lunge into Turn 3 only for Verstappen to regain P1 at Turn 4.

Their squabble opened the door for Piastri to attack his team-mate for second place before he too tried to challenge Verstappen for the lead.

The reigning World Champion held his nerve in the face of the McLaren pressure, easing his way out of DRS range to take the win by 4.6s. Perez wasn’t able to make up any positions and finished P8 where he was 17s down.

Verstappen admitted McLaren’s “two cars” meant he had to work hard for the win.

“It was a good first lap I would say but once the DRS opens it is very hard to get out of it, took a few laps, a few exciting battles as well,” he said.

“But I think once we cleared the DRS then I could do a bit more my own race and then it looked a bit better.

“But you could see they have two cars, are pushing flat out trying to of course make it difficult for me.

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????The updated Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings after the Austrian GP Sprint race

“And you know, we had to work for it in that race so a few things to think about what we could do better for tomorrow especially because it’s going to be even longer races and harder on the tyres.

“It’s going to be quite interesting to see how that will evolve.”

He added: “I need to have a look at the whole race, I was very busy with myself. So we have to look into the data about the others as well. And we’ll see if we can do better tomorrow.”

Asked about the ‘clipping’ he experienced on lap 4 and 5, Verstappen put that energy recovery issue down to his efforts to break out of DRS range of the McLarens.

“It’s just because them [McLaren] in the DRS so they use of course a bit less energy because naturally they spend less time on the street just catching up to me.

“And I think once they were out, then I could go back to my normal management and then everything was fine again.”

Verstappen’s Sprint victory, his third of this season, saw him extend his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ standings to 71 points over Norris.

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