BY ROBERT HAILE
It been a good season for Red Bull as they chalked up their sixth win and fifth in a row as Max Verstappen made it three in a row to extend his lead after winning the Austrian Grand Prix today, July 4.
The Dutchman enjoyed a relaxing run around the Red Bull Ring after the Styrian Grand Prix caused a few restless laps towards the end.
Championship leader and Austrian Grand Prix winner Verstappen said: “To win again at home at the Red Bull Ring is just incredible. I expected it to be good, but not this good, and the car was on rails. It was really nice to drive and the pace was incredible on both tyre compounds. I could push and also look after the tyres which is exactly how you want it to be and I could extend my gap lap after lap. Just like everyone else we learnt from last weekend and we optimised the car even more by improving the set-up.
“It’s actually hard to put into words because it was so enjoyable to drive and the weekend was the best it could be, so let’s hope we can carry on in the same way. It’s a great reward for everyone in the Team and it was also very nice to have Honda represented on the podium by Tanabe.
“The fans were also incredible all weekend, so much orange in the grandstands and it’s just great to see people back and enjoying Formula One at the track. There are of course a lot of difficult races coming up and Silverstone will be interesting with the Sprint Race to mix things up. But for now, I’m really happy with the way the whole race went and you don’t often get this type of race, so we all have to enjoy it”
Lewis Hamilton fresh with a new contract at Mercedes started a surprising fourth behind Lando Norris, who had given McLaren their first front row for nine years and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in third.
Aston Martin’s Seb Vettel started three places lower having ended up with a penalty for blocking Fernando Alonso in qualifying.
After a quiet start Alpine’s Esteban Ocon’s race finished early when he ended up sandwiched between Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Haas’s Mick Schumacher which caused damage to Ocon’s suspension forcing him to park to car bringing out an early Safety Car.
Perez looked to capitalise by taking on Norris by trying to go around the outside but was seen to have been pushed into the gravel as he dropped to tenth as Norris got a five second penalty after an investigation.
This was the first penalty given as the drivers gave no track position without a fight.
On lap forty one Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc tried to go around the outside of Perez who was given a five second penalty for pushing the Ferrari off the track and it was again repeated on lap forty seven as the two drivers went wheel to wheel.
With twenty laps left Mercedes let Bottas race Hamilton with the two sitting in second and third with Norris lurking in forth, with a lap gone they let Bottas pass into second as Hamilton’s pace slowed.
Second placed Finn Bottas said: “For me personally, P2 (position 2) one place better than last week and I started from fifth so not a bad afternoon. I think as a team we got some decent points considering the gap we have to Red Bull in terms of pure pace. For me it’s nice to be on the podium again in second place and I think we really maximised what we could get today.
“The tyres held on pretty well today which was a surprise. Next two weeks of hardwork and learning then Silverstone, it will be great to see the fans there and I hope we can pick up our pace to give it a real fight there.”
Norris then passed Hamilton two laps later for third place with the Mercedes driver pitting for fresh tyres.
Third placed driver Norris said: “I’m extremely happy with today’s result. Another podium and a lot of points for us as a team. A very good day. The only thing that’s disappointing is the fact we could’ve been P2 (position 2), but at the same time that’s also a big positive. Our pace today was extremely strong, especially in the second stint against very fast cars and against Mercedes. A lot of positives and altogether a very good day – a huge thank you to the whole team for their hard work and giving me such a great car. We’ll keep pushing to take this momentum into our home race at Silverstone in a couple of weeks.”
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll got a five second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Williams were looking for their first point of the season and with four laps left George Russell was clinging on against Alpine’s Alonso who ended up passing the Williams driver with three left.
In the constructors battle McLaren were sitting pretty with Norris in third and Daniel Ricciardo in sixth and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in seventh and Leclerc just behind, going into the final laps.
Sainz closed in and passed Ricciardo to claim sixth, but finished fifth due to Perez’s penalties.
It was a dramatic end of the race for Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Aston Martin’s Vettel as the pair collided out of turn four to plummet down the places to sixteenth and seventeenth.
Formula One will take a break after three weekends on the bounce to return at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix on July 16-18 and the first sprint race of the season.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 182
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 150
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 101
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 92
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 62
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 60
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 40
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 39
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 30
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 20
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 14
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 12
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 9
- Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) – 1
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) – 1
- George Russel (Williams) – 0
- Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 0
- Nikita Mazepin (Haas) – 0
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 0
- Red Bull – 286
- Mercedes – 242
- McLaren – 141
- Ferrari – 122
- AlphaTauri – 48
- Aston Martin – 44
- Alpine – 32
- Alfa Romeo – 2
- Williams – 0
- Haas – 0