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Another Dominant Display by Verstappen

Verstappen takes another commanding F1 victory at the Red Bull ring. An exciting and interesting race saw penalties galore, wheel to wheel action and a last-lap crash.

Off the line, pole man Verstappen takes the lead. Norris—who qualified an excellent second—keeps his position but has Perez all over the back of his Mclaren. Further back, Vettel, Leclerc and Ricciardo all gain places, but Sainz, running a different strategy on hard tyres, drops down three spots. The biggest loser from the start is Ocon, who gets squeezed between Schumacher and Giovinazzi and unfortunately suffers a suspension failure as a result. The safety car is briefly deployed to recover the stricken Alpine.

The safety car comes in and the race continues where we left off: with tussles right the way through the pack, from Giovinazzi and Schumacher at the back to the Mercedes teammates scrapping over fourth place. Up ahead of them Perez is still all over Norris and attempts an overtake around the outside of turn four where he is run out wide onto the gravel, dropping down to tenth position. Controversially, the stewards hand Norris a five-second penalty for this incident. Personally, I feel this to be nothing more than a racing incident between two hard-driving competitors: a five-second penalty is pretty harsh.

As the race begins to get into a rhythm, Verstappen stomps off into the distance: no one can challenge him this weekend. Norris is faster than expected and—with the help of the Mclaren’s great straight-line speed— can keep Hamilton behind for twenty laps. Bottas is able to pass Norris when the Mclaren driver pits and has to take his 5-second penalty.

Down in the midfield, we see the DRS trains make a return: one covering sixth to eleventh place drivers, and another running from twelfth to fifteenth. DRS enables a driver to open the back wing of the car, at designated parts of the track, to get a little extra speed if they are within one second of the driver ahead. It is meant to enable easier overtaking—which it does in many cases. But in some places, it creates these trains; if a whole string of drivers are close enough to one another (within 1 second of the driver ahead), then they all get DRS and therefore it negates any advantage. Perez finds himself near the end of the first train battling wheel to wheel with Leclerc—with the Ferrari driver coming out ahead. As pitstops come and go, the DRS train breaks down a little, but Ricciardo, Leclerc and Perez continue to race close together deep into the race. This doesn’t fail to deliver drama as Leclerc and Perez go wheel to wheel repeatedly, with the Ferrari driver twice being run out wide, one of these incidents being very similar to the Norris-Perez incident from earlier. Consequentially, Perez receives two five-second penalties. Again, I think that these were harsh and unnecessary: punishing what is essentially good, hard racing. But, having given the earlier penalty to Norris, it would have been inconsistent from the stewards not to give these.

There is a mix of one and two-stop strategies, and pit stops are dotted throughout the race. The main winner of these is Sainz. Having run a long first stint on hard tyres he pitted the last of the single stoppers and was able to make up places towards the end of the race on comparatively newer rubber to those around him. The main losers seem to be the two stoppers—Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin. The two-stop strategy just didn’t pay off today.

Upfront, Verstappen continues untroubled in a race of his own. Hamilton, in second, however, starts struggling after suffering damage to the left rear of his car, possibly caused by running over kerbs. This creates a lack of downforce for the Mercedes driver who then starts losing time. Eventually Bottas, in third place, is given the go-ahead to pass his teammate and shortly after Norris also passes Hamilton.

Hard racing continues through the grid right until the end of the race, with Sainz passing Ricciardo for a sixth-place finish on the last lap. Russell shows his class, holding off Alonso for several laps, but the Alpine driver manages to get past the Williams and deny them their first point of the season with only a few laps to go. Raikkonen and Vettel then chase Russell down and the two come together in a crash on the very last lap.

But, up ahead, Verstappen is immune to all the chaos, serenely taking the chequered flag in an impeccable race victory. Bottas comes in second and Norris an impressive third—keeping good pace with the Mercedes ahead of him. Hamilton manages to maintain fourth, Perez crosses the line fifth but is demoted to sixth after his two five-second penalties are applied, promoting Sainz up a place.

A busy day for the stewards; in addition to Perez and Norris’ penalties, Tsunoda receives two penalties for crossing the white line on the entry to the pitlane on both his pitstops. Giovinazzo gets one for overtaking under the safety car and Stroll for speeding in the pitlane. And they didn’t get to rest after the race, as Latifi and Mazepin are given penalties for failing to adhere to the double-waved yellow flags and Raikkonen for causing a collision.

The Teams

Red Bull: Another great race for Red Bull. Verstappen was faultless for the whole weekend, bagging pole, fastest lap and the victory convincingly. Perez was unlucky to get caught up with incidents that affected his race, without which he could have easily been second. But, despite this, he raced well and brought good points home in sixth position.

Mercedes: Great job by Bottas to come in second, and Hamilton did well to nurse the car into fourth. Ultimately, the team will be reeling to see the genuine speed and strength of their rival Red Bull.

Mclaren: Wow, what a weekend. Norris absolutely nailed the qualifying, setting himself up for a great race, and he absolutely delivered. He’ll have been understandably disappointed to be given that penalty, without which he had a genuine shot at second position. But, the positive is that he was able to keep the Mercedes at bay for twenty laps and finish within three seconds of Bottas. Ricciardo, too, had a great race, gaining six places from his starting position.

Ferrari: A decent race for the team, both drivers making good headway from their starting positions. Qualifying just out of the top ten—in eleventh and twelfth place—may have not seemed great, but it did allow them a free choice of tyre and therefore enabled them to run the strategy which worked so well for Sainz. The Spaniard made up six places to finish 5th. Leclerc ran a different strategy, starting on soft tyres and moving to the hard; although not as successful as Sainz’s strategy, he was still able to finish eighth and treat us to some cracking racing action along the way.

Alpha Tauri: Ran the two-stop strategy, which didn’t seem to be the right option as the race progressed. Gasly had a quiet race, finishing ninth (having started sixth), and Tsunoda came in twelfth.

Alpine: Very disappointing weekend for the team. Ocon was again unable to connect with the car, qualifying down in seventeenth and only making it around a few corners before having to retire after suffering damage. Granted, the collision was not his fault, but a poor qualifying does leave you more susceptible to these incidents. Alonso was on fire in qualifying, his pace on par with Gasly who qualified sixth. However, he was impeded by Vettel and therefore qualified fourteenth. From here, it’s very difficult to make a real challenge for serious points, but the Spaniard did well to move up to tenth and take home the final point.

Aston Martin: They too ran the two-stop strategy and suffered for it, Stroll finishing thirteenth and Vettel seventeenth.

Alfa Romeo: Raikkonen showed good pace in the race and was fighting for eleventh on the last lap when a collision with Vettel dropped him down to fifteenth. Giovinazzi came in fourteenth.

Williams: Russell had another great race and almost brought home a point for the team, but was pipped to it and therefore finished eleventh. Latifi finished sixteenth.

Haas: Eighteenth for Schumacher and nineteenth for Mazepin sees their woeful season continue.

Final Thoughts

Red Bull really have the class this year and Mercedes—at the moment—are struggling to find a response. No one had an answer for the speed of Verstappen today; he was in a league of his own.

Driver of the day: Norris

Honourable mentions: Sainz, Leclerc, Alonso, Russell

Austrian Grand Prix Race Results

  1. Verstappen (Fastest Lap)
  2. Bottas
  3. Norris
  4. Hamilton
  5. Sainz
  6. Perez
  7. Ricciardo
  8. Leclerc
  9. Gasly
  10. Alonso

Race Highlights

 

Next Time

Great Britain: We’re off to the iconic and fast Silverstone, a track that never disappoints.

Brand New Qualifying Sprint race: F1 is dabbling with concepts of qualifying sprint races and Silverstone will debut a test of this system! A Friday Qualifying session will set the grid for a short, fast-paced sprint race to be held on Saturday afternoon. The results from this sprint race set the grid for the full-length Grand Prix on Sunday. The top three sprint race finishers get some points as well. A completely new concept for F1, not to be missed!

Timings for the weekend-
Friday, July 16th 6:00 pm GMT- Qualifying for the sprint race.
Saturday, July 17th 4:30 pm GMT- Sprint race.
Sunday, July 18th 3:00 pm GMT- Full-length race.

Where to Watch

USA: Sunday 18th July Live on ESPN race start at 10:00 am EST
UK: Sunday 18th July Live on Sky Sports F1 race start at 3:00 pm GMT
Highlights on Sky One and Channel Four, Sunday 18th July, time TBC

Written by Jenny Alderton

Jenny is a freelance writer based in Wales with keen interest in Motorsports. An avid follower of Formula one for over twenty years she has recently branched out into watching other vehicles driving around in wiggly circles. Namely, Motogp, World Superbike championship, and British Superbike championship.

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