Max Verstappen took a commanding victory in the Styrian Grand Prix on Sunday to further extend his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
The Red Bull Racing driver was untouchable as he led from start-to-finish to take his third victory in four races, with Lewis Hamilton slipping further behind in the standings as a result.
Verstappen got a strong start and was clear of Hamilton heading into turn one, while behind, Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc clashed, which saw the former retire with damage and the latter pit at the end of lap one for a new front wing.
Gasly’s left-rear wheel was clipped by Leclerc on the exit of turn one, with the subsequent puncture slowing the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver down on the run to turn three. Heading into the turn, whilst taking avoiding action, Gasly also spun Antonio Giovinazzi around and hit Nicholas Latifi, with the latter also heading to the pits on the opening lap with a puncture.
Gasly’s race was done as he returned to the pits with a broken suspension, an unfortunate result after securing an excellent sixth place on the grid on Saturday.
Hamilton attempted to keep in touch with Verstappen, but the Dutchman was in control, while Lando Norris held onto third for the opening ten laps. However, with the faster Sergio Pérez and Valtteri Bottas in tow, it was not long before both found their way passed, both passing the McLaren F1 Team driver into turn three on consecutive laps.
Pérez was the first of the frontrunners to pit, but a slow stop saw him fall behind Bottas when the Finn pitted on the next lap. A few laps later, Hamilton hit the pit lane, with Verstappen reacting on the next lap. After the stops, Verstappen had a five-second lead over his main rival, while Bottas was well behind the leading duo in third.
Despite his best efforts, Hamilton was unable to make any gains on Verstappen’s lead, with the Dutchman in total control at the front, and he was well adrift when he took a second pit stop on the penultimate lap so he could go for the bonus point for fastest lap.
Verstappen’s winning margin was over thirty-five seconds when it all played out, while Bottas took the final spot on the podium, another eleven seconds back. Pérez gambled on a second pit stop in order to attack Bottas for third in the closing laps, but despite an impressive gain in time, he ran out of laps to fight the Finn, with the Mexican ending up half a second shy in fourth.
Once he had let both Pérez and Bottas go, Norris had a quiet race to fifth, while Carlos Sainz Jr. ran a long first stint to claim sixth for Scuderia Ferrari despite having started twelfth. His long stint on mediums meant he was able to pass a number of cars on strategy alone, while Lance Stroll fell behind him as he showed superior pace to the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team driver.
After pitting on lap one, Leclerc was the man on the charge as he passed car after car, with the Monegasque racer climbing from eighteenth to finish an excellent seventh. Some of his passes were robust, particularly the move on Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Kimi Räikkönen heading towards turn four that saw him clip the Finn’s front wing with his right rear wheel.
After running inside the top six early on, Stroll could only finish eighth, while Fernando Alonso took ninth for the Alpine F1 Team, just ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in the other AlphaTauri.
George Russell’s bad luck continued as the Williams Racing driver retired early on after a pneumatic system issue. The Briton had been running competitively in eighth prior to this first stop, but due to the issue, his first stop was slow, he was back in the pits the next lap for another top-up of pressure, before a third stop saw his day come to an end.
Räikkönen ended eleventh ahead of his former team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the second Aston Martin, while Daniel Ricciardo could only finish thirteenth in the second McLaren. Ricciardo had made up five places on the opening lap to run ninth, but the Australian suffered a brief power unit issue that saw him lose the positions once more, and when his engine recovered, he was left with too much work to do to score points.
Esteban Ocon had a quiet race to fourteenth in the second Alpine, just ahead of Giovinazzi, while Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin finished sixteenth and eighteenth for the Uralkali Haas F1 Team, either side of the recovering Latifi.
Verstappen now has an eighteen-point advantage over Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship heading into next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix at the same circuit. Red Bull also have four consecutive wins for the first time in the turbo hybrid era and have a forty point lead over the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
Styrian Grand Prix Race Result
|1||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||71 Laps|
|2||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||+35.743|
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||+46.907|
|4||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||Red Bull Racing||+47.434|
|5||4||Lando Norris||ITA||McLaren F1 Team||+1 Lap|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|7||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|8||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||+1 Lap|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||+1 Lap|
|10||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||+1 Lap|
|11||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||+1 Lap|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||+1 Lap|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||+1 Lap|
|14||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||+1 Lap|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||+1 Lap|
|16||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||+2 Laps|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||+3 Laps|
|18||9||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||+3 Laps|
|RET||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||Retired|
|RET||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||Retired|