Max Verstappen cruised to Austrian Grand Prix victory to make it three wins in a row from the triple-header, to extend his championship lead to thirty-two points over title rival Lewis Hamilton.
In a carbon copy of last week’s Styrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen led from flag to finish to make it four wins from the last five races, as well as back-to-back wins at the team’s home track the Red Bull Ring, not only extending his own lead in the drivers standings but also extending the team’s lead in the constructors.
Thankfully it was a much more exciting race compared to last weekend, with action from lap one to lap seventy-one, the race even featured an early safety car.
Verstappen yet again got a great start to see him lead into turn one, with Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez following suit as the whole grid thankfully got round the first corner safely. On the run up the hill into turn three for the first time the midfield ran three-wide but not without collision. As the cars all closed together to get around the tight corner Alpine F1 Team’s Esteban Ocon’s Austrian nightmare continued as he was caught in between Mick Schumacher and Antonio Giovinazzi, damaging his front-right suspension and forcing him into an early retirement, bringing out the races only safety car in the process.
On lap four the race got back underway with Verstappen leading Norris, Pérez, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas across the line, with Pérez immediately attacking Norris at turn one by going around the outside and wide over the huge yellow kerbs, the pair ran side-by-side up the hill into turn three with both Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team cars right in their gearbox. The battle continued down into turn four where drama struck, Pérez again went around the outside of Norris but went off into the gravel and dropped down to tenth. Norris was awarded a five-second penalty for supposedly forcing Pérez off the circuit, a decision many don’t agree with.
As the dust settled, Verstappen drove away far into the distance as behind Norris led Hamilton all the way until lap twenty, Hamilton using DRS finally got past the Mclaren F1 Team driver down into turn four. It wasn’t too long until Norris fell behind the sister Mercedes car, Bottas overtook Norris in the pit-lane on lap thirty-one whilst Norris was serving his penalty.
Further down the field Pérez who by lap forty-one was down in eighth place and battling with Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, was awarded a five-second penalty himself for doing the exact same to Leclerc at turn four as Norris was deemed to have done to him. It wasn’t to be the last penalty awarded to Pérez in the race. Only six laps later on lap forty-seven Pérez was awarded yet another five-second penalty, again for supposedly forcing Leclerc off the track this time at turn five. The race officials were extremely harsh throughout the race.
Back at the front and Lewis Hamilton hit trouble after damaging his car from going over the kerbs at turn ten, this saw his pace drop off as third place Bottas cruised up on his team-mate before being allowed to overtake on lap fifty-two, something which he and Norris who was right back in the podium fight despite taking his penalty, did without trouble. A lap later Hamilton who was in no danger of losing fourth place pitted for fresh tyres in a bid for fastest lap, something he simply didn’t have the pace to do as he drove to the end in fourth. Hamilton with his fourth place slips further behind race-winner Verstappen in the championship.
In the closing laps George Russell fought tooth and nail with Fernando Alonso, the Williams Racing driver was doing all he could to hold on to tenth place to take his first ever point for Williams after such an impressive weekend. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Russell as Alonso who had fresher tyres overtook the Williams down into turn four, on lap sixty-eight after an almost race long battle. Russell who finished an agonising eleventh continues his search for points.
Whilst Norris was up towards the front, his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo put in a much improved performance, the Australian who sat in sixth for so much of the race saw himself slip to seventh on the final lap. Carlos Sainz Jr who yet again ran his opening stint much longer than everyone else, was rapid in the closing stages and took sixth from Ricciardo just before turn four in yet another super drive from the Ferrari driver.
Despite all the battling throughout the field, no one could stop Max Verstappen from taking another race win and the DHL fastest lap, all on top of his pole position making it the perfect weekend from Verstappen who won the race from Bottas and Norris by just over seventeen seconds in front of thousands of Dutch supporters. Behind Norris was Hamilton, Sainz, Pérez who dropped to sixth with his penalty, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso who rounded out the points.
As the points finishers were crossing the line there was a bizarre incident between Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, with Räikkönen being completely unaware of Vettel overtaking him and simply drove into the side of the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team car, the incident saw both spin off the circuit into the grass on the exit of turn four, both avoided the barrier.
So as the triple header comes to a close Max Verstappen is now in complete control of the championship, as the FIA Formula One World Championship returns for round ten in a fortnight for the British Grand Prix.