It’s lights out and away we go for the second time on the Red Bull Ring, this time for the Austrian Grand Prix!
It’s a good start for polesitter Max Verstappen! The race gets off to a clean start, with all 20 cars completing the first lap without an incident. We’re now in Lap 2 and heading around Turn 3, Esteban Ocon was pressed out by Mick Schumacher on the left and Antonio Giovinazzi on the right, and there was contact. The Alpine driver’s race is now over.
The Safety Car arrived in Lap 3. It looks like Sergio Perez gives Lando Norris no chance to overtake, but the Mexican pushes himself too far and ends up in the gravel. He had no intention of giving up his place. On the Red Bull team radio in Lap 4, Perez states, “He pushed me off.” Norris did not appear to force him off, based on the footage. It was unfortunate that Perez pushed himself too hard, and the McLaren was faster in straight lines. Lap 7, and we have the first time-penalty of five seconds for Giovinazzi. The race stewards have penalized him for overtaking during the Safety Car earlier. The Alfa Romeo will pay the price for this. The back left tyre on Norris’ car is becoming a concern, according to McLaren racing engineers. Norris is wondering about the race plan because Lewis Hamilton seems to be faster than him in Lap 12.
We’re in Lap 13, and despite Christian Horner’s confession that Norris’s collision with Perez was a racing incident, the race stewards will now investigate the incident at Turn 4, what an overtake by Charles Leclerc in Lap 14. He and Perez had DRS down into Turn 4, but Leclerc was smart enough to pull out and let Perez go before diving inside and claiming the inside position. Lovely move! On the soft compound tyres, Sebastian Vettel was always going to struggle to maintain the McLaren behind him, and so it proves as Daniel Ricciardo passes him into P5. Ricciardo is now in fifth place on lap 17! Hamilton closes in in Norris in Lap 19! This is the closest Hamilton has come to throughout the race.
Lap 20 and Hamilton makes a move on Norris! Norris has also been given a five-second penalty for the incident involving Perez, making it a miserable lap. After passing Norris, Hamilton says on the Mercedes team radio, “Such a great driver, Lando.” In the meantime, Norris is commenting on how Hamilton’s brakes appear to be “on fire.” in Lap 21. In Lap 22, Yuki Tsunoda is the next driver to get a penalty from the race stewards, and he receives one of five seconds! On his way into the pit, he crossed the white line. Ricciardo is pitted by McLaren in Lap 30 and rejoins the race in 12th place. He’s going for the undercut, so Ricciardo needs to move quickly if he wants the strategy to work. We’re in Lap 31, and Norris has entered the pits and has completed his five-second penalty time. Valtteri Bottas was able to pass the fourth-placed McLaren as a result of this. I still believe the penalty was really harsh.
I haven’t mentioned Max Verstappen since the race’s first lap, but he enters the pits in Lap 33 and returns as the race leader. Unless there are any mechanical concerns, Verstappen appears to be having this win in his pocket already! The undercut clearly worked for Red Bull Racing. Russell has moved up to P12 after passing Stroll in Lap 40. For the first race as a Williams driver, he’s chasing points. He had a strong qualifying session yesterday, but will he finish in the top ten this time and gain some points?
Perez holds off Leclerc in Lap 41 as their wheels come into contact. At Turn 4, Leclerc tries to take the long way around, but he collides with Perez, and the Red Bull maintains his position. The stewards have to see this as it was practically the same situation that resulted in Norris receiving a time penalty. One lap later, in Lap 42, Perez is under investigation by the stewards, and indeed Perez has been given a five-second time penalty. Clearly, the FIA does not want to see drivers racing today. Leclerc goes into the gravel again. Perez maintains track position, but it’s possible that the Red Bull may be given another time penalty as a result. As I already stated, the stewards have set a pattern in Lap 47. Once again, Perez is under investigation. “Lewis has damage. Do not race him for now. We will review,” is the message to Bottas over the team radio in Lap 49. Norris said, “that leaves the door open for us.”
Lap 50 and Hamilton sounds concerned: “I don’t think I’ll make these tyres last, man”, coming from the driver who has just set his fastest lap of the race. We’re now in Lap 51, and Bottas has been given permission to race Hamilton. Mercedes has definitely seen Norris’s speed behind them and does not want to lose any positions to the McLaren. The Red Bull driver has been handed his second five-second time penalty of the race for forcing Leclerc off the track at Turn 6 in Lap 52…
Lap 53 and Mercedes has informed their drivers that they would be switching drivers, and Bottas has taken over second place from Hamilton, who is currently losing a lot of time. Norris passes Hamilton in Lap 54! The defending world champion couldn’t get his elbows far enough out to keep the McLaren from passing him, and Norris is now in third place! “Let’s go get Bottas,” is the message across the McLaren team radio to Norris. Verstappen just set a new fastest lap in Lap 59. To be honest, he’s been absolutely out of sight since the first lap, when he got off to a strong start. At the moment, the Dutchman appears to be unbeatable. Nobody can approach him.
Lap 62 and Leclerc might just need to relax a little. He is late on the brakes into Turn 4 once more, and he nearly collides with Ricciardo. After the incidents involving Perez, he still seems to be upset. Russell is on the point of scoring his first points as a Williams driver in Lap 63. He is, however, under pressure from Alonso, who is racing on newer tyres. Verstappen has a cut on his rear right tyre, which Red Bull has warned him about over the team radio in Lap 65. This came after they advised the race leader to be careful with the tyres. He obviously doesn’t want a repeat of the situation like in Baku…
There is a strong fight between the old Alonso and the young Russell, who is closing in on his first point as a Williams driver in Lap 66. Lap 68 and Alonso has climbed into the top ten, but this is a big disappointment for Russell. He gave it his all, but there was nothing he could do to prevent the Alpine with DRS from passing him.
Verstappen has won the Austrian Grand Prix as he crosses the finish-line!
For the second weekend in a row, the Red Bull driver triumphs in the Red Bull Ring. It’s his third racing win in a row and his fourth of the season! At the top of the leaderboard, he now enjoys a 32-point advantage.
In the meantime, Bottas is second, Norris is third, and Hamilton is fourth.