George Russell and Lewis Hamilton both get back out on track – and have no penalties – after their Q3 crashes in qualifying; Max Verstappen starts first for the Sprint race, live on Sky Sports F1 at 3.30pm with build-up from 2.30pm

Last Updated: 09/07/22 2:18pm

Carlos Sainz topped the timesheets ahead of Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen in Austrian GP final practice before Saturday’s Sprint.

A crucial final hour of running before the drivers race over 24 laps in the Sprint, live on Sky Sports F1 at 3.30pm, also saw the return of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell after their Mercedes qualifying crashes.

With one-lap pace having been the focus on Friday, Practice Two was all about longer runs and Sainz set the pace with a 1:08.610.

He was closely followed by team-mate Leclerc and Red Bull’s title leader Verstappen, who will start first in the Sprint ahead of the Ferraris.

Alpines Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were fourth and fifth, ahead of Sergio Perez. Perez has dropped from fourth all the way down to 13th on the Sprint grid after a post-qualifying penalty for track limits.

The Mercedes garage is in full swing to get Lewis Hamilton’s car ready and out onto the Red Bull Ring for Practice 2 at the Austrian Grand Prix.

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The Mercedes garage is in full swing to get Lewis Hamilton’s car ready and out onto the Red Bull Ring for Practice 2 at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes garage is in full swing to get Lewis Hamilton’s car ready and out onto the Red Bull Ring for Practice 2 at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes, meanwhile, managed to get both cars back on track after their costly Q3 crashes.

Neither Russell nor Hamilton have gearbox penalties or engine changes despite the heavy shunts, and Russell was first out on track before Hamilton, who is now running an older Merc chassis, emerged with 15 minutes left.

Russell and Hamilton eventually finished seventh and ninth, with 33 and 14 laps completed respectively, ahead of Lando Norris as McLaren showed a semblance of competitive pace after a disastrous Friday.

Leclerc completed the most laps in the session, with 43.

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What exactly is the Sprint?

The Sprint is the name of the shortened Saturday race that debuted in 2021 and is back for 2022, shaking up the usual weekend format and providing more wheel-to-wheel action with another race.

Effectively a mini version of what we see on Sundays, drivers race over 100km – which is a third of the usual race distance and in Imola’s case converts to 24 laps – in a flat-out sprint for grid slots for the Grand Prix and points for their championship hopes.

Replacing qualifying in the Saturday slot, we’ll see the Sprint at three more rounds in 2022, in Imola, Austria and Brazil.

New Provisional Grid: Austrian GP Sprint Race

1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
4) George Russell, Mercedes
5) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
6) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
7) Mick Schumacher Haas
8) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
9) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
10) Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri
11) Alex Albon, Williams
12) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
13) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
14) Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri
15) Lando Norris, McLaren
16) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
17) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
18) Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo
19) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
20) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

How does it work?

The 20 drivers start in the order they qualified on Friday evening – more on that below – and their finishing positions 100km later will be the positions they line up in for the start of Sunday’s Grand Prix.

If you win, you’re starting Sunday’s race from pole position; if you’re 10th, you start in that same spot one day later, while if you hit technical trouble or crash out, you’ll be at the back and left with it all to do.

Are there points for the Sprint?

Yes – and significantly more than last year in one of the key changes.

In 2021, only the top three drivers scored points and there were only a total of six points on offer; three for the winner, two for second and one for third.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had a Q3 to forget, with both Mercedes drivers going into the safety barriers ahead of Saturday's Sprint.

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Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had a Q3 to forget, with both Mercedes drivers going into the safety barriers ahead of Saturday’s Sprint.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had a Q3 to forget, with both Mercedes drivers going into the safety barriers ahead of Saturday’s Sprint.

In 2022, the top eight will score points and that points total rises to 36. The winner will collect eight points, second place will score seven, with this continuing in descending order down to eighth (one point).

The points on offer means the Sprint is even more important in 2022.

Not only do more drivers – on top of battling for grid position for Sunday’s race – have a chance of points, but they can now take a total of 34 points over a weekend instead of the usual 26. Plus, if a driver wins all three Sprints in 2022, that almost adds up to a race win on its own (24). Handy.

Are there pit stops in the Sprint?

Although not technically banned, pit stops are few and far between given how short a Sprint is.

Unlike the Grand Prix, there is no mandatory change of tyres required and, unless cars hit damage or puncture or it rains, don’t expect them to leave the action on track for the pit lane between lights out and the chequered flag.

Drivers are free to run on whatever tyre compound – hard, medium or soft – that they wish.

And the Grand Prix, is that unchanged on Sunday?

The 71 laps of the Austrian Grand Prix around the Red Bull Ring are unchanged and are still the main event for the weekend.

Lights out this year is at 2pm. Sky F1 build-up starts at 12.30pm.

The usual points apply for race day, that’s 25 for the victory (or a maximum of 26 if the winner nabs the fastest lap too) down to one point for 10th place.