Lewis Hamilton thinks Mercedes will need to play "the long game" if they are to have any chance of beating Max Verstappen and Red Bull at the British Grand Prix.

The first-ever Formula One sprint race took place on Saturday, with Verstappen passing Hamilton – who had qualified fastest in a new Friday session - on the first lap and going on to win.

That means Verstappen is awarded pole position and three championship points with Hamilton and third-placed Valtteri Bottas having to settle for two and one respectively.

Hamilton is grateful to have the chance to bounce back in the main race on Sunday but is under no illusions over the size of the task facing him on home soil as Verstappen seeks a fourth consecutive F1 victory.

"Sunday is going to be tough," Hamilton, who is seeking a record eighth win at Silverstone, told reporters after the 17-lap sprint.

"He [Verstappen] had a lot of pace in him and I don't think he was particularly having to push too hard, and we were flat-out. 

"If I can try somehow to keep up with them through the stints, maybe we can apply pressure through strategy – but we're not going to be overtaking them on the track: they're just too fast. 

"So, we play the long game hopefully."

In the sprint race it was a slow start that cost Hamilton, who now trails Verstappen by 33 points.

The seven-time world champion added: "I gave it everything, it's just not good when you lose from P1. We'll try to turn the negative into a positive.

"Every point counts, but I'm grateful to have finished. We will fight again, but they're just so strong, in the race he was pulling away. There was nothing I could do to hold onto him.

"We really have to try and be in front somehow. I wish we could re-do the start again, but luckily we have it again on Sunday."

Verstappen believes Mercedes are competitive rivals for the race and the Dutchman will be outnumbered given Sergio Perez, who spun off and later retired in the sprint, will start at the back of the grid.

"What we learned on Saturday is that it's very close again," said the championship leader.

"It's a bit different. It seems like we are quick through corners, they are quick on the straight this weekend.

"The pace was alright but I still expect with a pit-stop coming into play – or two pit stops, who knows – it’s again going to be a good fight." 

Hamilton was positive about the trial changes made to the format this weekend, but thinks everything, including qualifying, should be packed in to Saturday and Sunday if a sprint becomes a permanent feature.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: "We should do more like that [the sprint], maybe a different version of it, in future because this makes the weekend more enjoyable I think.

"They did a great job and I think the fans enjoyed it, from what we saw on the parade laps. 

"I think this weekend's been awesome in terms of Friday, it was such a fun day to have qualifying - way more enjoyable [than practice would have been].

"It's always nice doing more races that’s for sure, but it is almost like they should almost do the sprint race on the Sunday and then the race because there could be a lot of sitting around for people on Sunday.

"It's been great to try something new - we should just do a long Saturday and long Sunday. P1, P2, qualifying on Saturday and then a sprint race and a race on Sunday. Pack it all in!

"That means we have one whole day less, 23 days actually less of driving these cars around the track and obviously that would be better in terms of going more green."

George Russell finished the sprint in ninth but has been handed a three-place grid penalty for an incident with Carlos Sainz.

He therefore drops to 12th, with Esteban Ocon, Sainz and Pierre Gasly the beneficiaries.

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 in the trial event ahead of the British Grand Prix, but a flying first lap saw him overtake championship rival Hamilton by 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 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.

Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to the Silverstone crowd after beating Max Verstappen in qualifying for the British Grand Prix and securing top place on the grid for Saturday’s inaugural F1 Sprint.

Trailing Verstappen by 32 points in the Drivers’ Championship, Hamilton has the momentum at Silverstone after pipping the Dutchman to victory in Friday's qualifying session by a tenth of a second.

Mercedes have won seven of the last eight races on this track with six of those triumphs going to Hamilton, who claimed his first pole here back in 2007.

After finishing fourth in Austria, the seven-time World champion is aiming to avoid consecutive finishes outside the podium for the first time since 2017.

And inspired by the raucous home crowd, he made the ideal start in ensuring he will head the grid in the F1 Sprint.

Silverstone is "absolutely" open to hosting one of the proposed new Formula One sprint races in 2021.

Plans have been drawn up to introduce shorter races on Saturdays at three circuits, which would precede the traditional grand prix a day later.

F1 president Stefano Domenicali told the Daily Mail that Silverstone was one of the proposed venues for the inaugural races, with teams said to be broadly in support of the new format.

The grands prix in Montreal, Monza and Interlagos are also reportedly under consideration to host sprint races.

Asked by Sky Sports if Silverstone welcomed the proposals, the circuit's managing director Stuart Pringle said: "Absolutely.

"If F1 should decide that Silverstone is the right venue for a sprint race then we would be totally supportive of that and feel it would be a fantastic spectacle for the fans."

The idea was first mooted in a meeting of the Formula One commission in February, after which F1 and governing body FIA issued a statement that said: "All teams recognised the major importance of engaging fans in new and innovative ways to ensure an even more exciting weekend format.

"There was, therefore, broad support from all parties for a new qualifying format at some races, and a working group has been tasked with creating a complete plan."

The proposal is for the sprint races, lasting roughly 30 minutes, to take place on the Saturday of a grand prix weekend. Qualifying would be moved to the Friday in place of the second practice session, with results determining the starting grid for the sprint event.

These shorter races would offer points for drivers and constructors, with the precise numbers yet to be determined, and decide the starting order for the main event on Sunday.

There would be no podium celebration after the sprint race, according to Domenicali, who is keen to preserve "the prestige of the grand prix itself".

Williams team principal Simon Roberts said this week, as per Race Fans: "We're all running carry-over cars [from 2020]. So fundamentally, we're not expecting massive shifts in the pecking order. So, let's try something.

"But there's a lot of detail being discussed in the background. The idea's cool, the concept's easy, but then in the detail, how do you actually [run] the weekend – how do you do tyres, what can you do, what can't you do – that's still in negotiation."

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