It’s lights out and away we go on the Red Bull Ring for the Styrian Grand Prix!
Polesitter Max Verstappen has a strong start, rushing down to the first corner. He cuts off Lewis Hamilton, who is accompanied by Lando Norris. Norris drives wide into the first corner after braking hard, almost allowing Sergio Perez to pass. There’s a lot of action in the back of Antonio Giovinazzi. Nicholas Latifi and Pierre Gasly are almost tripping over each other, and the Italian has clearly turned around. Verstappen is in front of Hamilton and Norris, who has reclaimed third place from Perez.
We’ve made it to Lap 2, and the Top 5 remain in place as Lance Stroll moves to sixth place. Daniel Ricciardo is in ninth place after a strong start. Gasly has a puncture in his back tyre. Gasly has a long pit stop as the team tries to remove the wrecked tyre from his car. After a poor start, he appears to have fought with Giovinazzi and is to blame for sending the Alfa Romeo driver into a spin. As a result, there is debris on the track. Replays from the start showed what happened to Gasly, who afterwards retired from the race. At the start, he collided with Leclerc, causing a puncture and breaking the Ferrari driver’s front wing. Gasly was forced to jump back through the field, colliding with a few of the midfield runners…
Hamilton has spoken on the radio in Lap 4 and is concerned that he may have hit some debris. He is 1.6 seconds behind Verstappen, who is already building a lead. Ricciardo has fallen back in the field and is now in P13, just behind Raikkonen in Lap 7. Lap 8, and it’s still unsure what happened to Ricciardo, Verstappen has gained a few tenths at the front of the race. According to radio messages, Ricciardo had a power outage that has cost him all of his hard work up to this point. Perez overtakes Norris in Lap 10! Down into Turn 3, the McLaren driver didn’t put up much of a fight there.
“Plan B,” Russell is told, “due to reliability” in Lap 18.
Hamilton hasn’t yet lapped anyone but also has dropped four-tenths. He’s starting to struggle, as we heard on the radio. However, Verstappen also struggles in Lap 19. The Haas drivers are battling in the back of the field, with Mick Schumacher locking up and allowing Nikita Mazepin to pass in Lap 22. It appears that they also bumped wheels, which probably didn’t help Guenther Steiner’s heart rate. In Lap 26, Hamilton had a moment on the exit of Turn 4 when he slips out of shape and has a big shake after putting a wheel in the gravel. That’s a wake-up call because he now admits to minor vibrations on his 29-year-old tyres.
Russell pits from P8 in Lap 27. His stop was 18.3 seconds, a prolonged one. Perez has also made a pitstop, and he has a 4.8s slow stop when it comes to Red Bull terms. Hamilton is up next with his pitstop in Lap 29. He’s switching to hard tyres and makes a 2.2-second stop. He returns to the track in second place. Stay tuned to find out if he will gain enough time on Verstappen with this new rubber. As Verstappen sees Hamilton closing the gap, he is told in Lap 34: “Critical laps for the stint.”
Verstappen is assured that he is doing well and that he can manage his tyres at the front in Lap 36. On the radio, Hamilton is starting to sound a little more agitated. With no rain in the forecast, it may come down to who can nurse their tyres to the finish line today. Oh no…we’re in Lap 39, and the Williams car from George Russell will have to retire due to the PU issue not being resolved. It’s especially disappointing given his great performance the day before and his early start in this race.
The gap between Hamilton has increased to 5.6 seconds in Lap 46. He wants to know from Bono, his race engineer, about the amount of time they are losing down the straights, only to be told that it is comparable to the previous week. This isn’t the kind of news that will make him happy. Verstappen, on the other hand, is on the close of lapping the field in Lap 48. Lap 50 and Bottas doesn’t appear to be in the best of spirits. He claims that after being encouraged to push, he “cooked” his tyres and that the Red Bull of Perez is visible in his mirrors.
On 10 laps fresher tyres, Leclerc is all over the back of Vettel now in Lap 51. He tries to cut inside into Turn 1, but Vettel fends him off… However, in Turn, 4, the Ferrari driver makes an overtake move. Replays show Vettel locked up, which certainly didn’t help his cause. Verstappen is having problems of his own, this time with the brake pedal. He is advised that this is because of the kerbs and that he should avoid them in Lap 53.
Box, box, box for Perez in Lap 56 When the team realizes he won’t be able to get past Bottas on those old tyres, they pull the trigger. As a wonderful silver lining, he now has the opportunity to go for the fastest lap bonus point and chase down the Finn. “What do you want me to do? I can’t close that gap,” Hamilton says in Lap 57. He is disappointed to find out that his only alternative is to nursing this car safe to the finish line and settle for second place.
It’s Perez’s fastest lap, as well as a virtual bonus point in Lap 58. The gap to Bottas is 16.1 seconds, and the Finn also has traffic to contend with. Is Perez capable of pulling things off in this situation? That one is going to be a show-stopper. Lap 62 and Verstappen is unconcerned enough to look up into the sky, where he notices an unsettling cloud. The team assures him that no rains are expected during the race. Hamilton has also become aware of the large dark cloud. He’s even more disappointed to learn that rain isn’t on its way.
Now we’re on the penultimate lap, and Verstappen is simply cruising and confident in his ability to complete the race. Hamilton, on the other hand, is pitting! He’ll have one go at the fastest lap bonus point with a free stop and a set of soft tyres. Max Verstappen won the Styrian Grand Prix! It was an easy job for the Dutchman today! He’s claimed his fourth win this season and the fourth time in a row for Red Bull. The Dutchman extended his Drivers’ Championship lead to 18 points over Lewis Hamilton. Behind him, Hamilton turned purple and set the fastest lap, earning the bonus point.
Perez has DRS on Bottas. However, he is unable to make a move, and the Finn takes third place.