Max Verstappen has won for the second consecutive time at the Red Bull Ring. The Dutchman started from pole and didn’t run into problems for a second. Valtteri Bottas came in second, ahead of a stunning Lando Norris. World champion Lewis Hamilton suffered damage and only finished fourth, which means that he is suddenly 32 points behind in the standings.
For the second weekend in a row, the Formula 1 circus pitched its tents at the Red Bull Ring. Last week there was the GP of Styria, this time the annual GP of Austria was on the program. With only one logical top favorite: Max Verstappen, who completely dominated the race on his team’s home circuit seven days earlier.
Verstappen confirmed his status by taking pole position. Though he barely had any left over. Lando Norris surprised by qualifying second in just 0.048 seconds, ahead of Sergio Pérez. World champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas had to be content with only places four and five.
How did the start go?
Little changed at the front: Verstappen easily kept his lead ahead of Norris, Pérez, Hamilton and Bottas. The safety car had to come out after Esteban Ocon broke his front suspension during a duel with Antonio Giovinazzi.
It soon went wrong on restart. Verstappen sped away from the rest, Pérez tried to go around the outside of Norris in turn four. The Englishman wanted nothing to do with that: the door closed, Pérez ended up in the gravel box and fell back to tenth place. Norris would later receive a 5-second time penalty for that.
How did the victory come about?
Just like last week, there was simply no limit to Max Verstappen in his Red Bull: the Dutchman was so dominant that he even had enough time in the final phase to make an extra pit stop without losing his leading position.
Behind Verstappen there was an interesting duel for the podium places. Lewis Hamilton needed more than 20 laps to squeeze past Lando Norris into second place. After the pit stops, Norris also ended up behind Bottas as he had to pay his 5-second time penalty.
The battle seemed over, until Hamilton was found to have suffered damage to the back of his Mercedes. As a result, he first had to let teammate Bottas pass, Norris also passed. Hamilton came to get new tires, but there was no more than fourth place. Verstappen recorded his fourth win in five races – and his third in a row – ahead of Bottas and Norris, who already took his third podium of the season: punishment from the young McLaren driver.
Behind Hamilton, Carlos Sainz Jr. after a race on the alternative strategy pretty fifth in the Ferrari. He took advantage of the time penalties of Sergio Pérez, who pressed Charles Leclerc into the gravel box twice and received a five-second penalty each time. Pérez was therefore classified sixth, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Leclerc and Pierre Gasly.
In the final phase there was also a wonderful duel with stakes between George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Russell did everything he could to keep his tenth place and the corresponding point: for Williams that would have been the first point in almost two years. However, it was not to be, because Alonso squeezed past the young Briton three laps before the end.
In the last lap there was a scare moment for Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen. The two former teammates, both also former world champions, drove each other off the track as they battled for twelfth place.
Who distinguished himself?
Max Verstappen had a perfect weekend in Austria. The Netherlands managed to achieve a grand slam for the first time in his career: pole, fastest lap, victory and led every lap. The Dutchman is in the shape of his life and is a solid leader in the World Cup: who is going to keep him from a first world title?
Lando Norris has been riding phenomenally all year, but with his third podium finish in just nine races he exceeds everyone’s wildest expectations. The young Briton narrowly missed pole position and defended his second place in the race for a long time against none other than Lewis Hamilton. It was not a perfect race – without the incident with Pérez Norris could have finished second – but in 2021 reaching the podium with a McLaren is a great result.
In this section we can mention a few names that worked their way forward in the race – think of Carlos Sainz Jr. on Daniel Ricciardo – but we’re going for this anyway George Russell. Mister Saturday actually started eighth after another strong qualification. Due to a lesser start, Russell lost some places, but in the final phase he found himself in that coveted tenth place. He fought bravely against the brave Fernando Alonso, but in the end it was just not for Russell. Nevertheless, eleventh is a very strong result for the Williams team, but the points counter remains at 0.
Who didn’t have their day?
The Austrian GP could have been a double party for Red Bull, because Sergio perez qualified for his doing very well. The Mexican started third, but after his collision with Lando Norris he fell back to place ten. Finishing in fifth place, the Mexican still limited the damage, but that became sixth after he got two more time penalties… by doing the same as Norris did to him. Questionable.
In front of Lewis Hamilton the assignment was clear after the qualifications. He had to limit the loss of points to Verstappen as much as possible. Read: finishing second behind the Dutchman, and hoping that something went wrong with Verstappen. Hamilton looked set to do just that, until his Mercedes was damaged. As a result, Hamilton did not get further than fourth place and sees his backlog increase by 14 points in one fell swoop. The pressure on the Brit continues to increase.
It would always have been a difficult race for AlphaTauri after they had to start the race on the softest tyre, a major strategic disadvantage. But where Pierre Gasly finished ninth and collected two points, was Yuki Tsunoda the schlemiel of the day. The dashing rookie was given a five-second time penalty for crossing the white line when entering the pit lane. Later in the race, Tsunoda did it again, with the same result. How did that proverb about the donkey and the stone go again?
How high was the spectacle value?
Last week’s GP of Styria did not have too much tension. A week later there was more to experience at the Red Bull Ring: Max Verstappen won with ease, but we had a nice fight for the podium places. Lando Norris managed to keep Lewis Hamilton behind for laps, which is no mean feat.
In addition, the spectators were also spoiled by the pilots who fought for the remaining points. Charles Leclerc and Sergio Pérez made life difficult for each other and in the final phase there was still the beautiful duel between young dog Russell and old fox Fernando Alonso.
What do we remember from this race?
That Lewis Hamilton has been seriously beaten in the championship. Mercedes has already been chasing for a few races, but in Austria Hamilton did not get further than only fourth place. With that, he loses 14 points to Verstappen, increasing the deficit to 32 points. Hamilton desperately needs a win in his home race, in two weeks’ time at Silverstone.
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