There was a massive hype throughout the weekend that rains could play a crucial role on Sunday, but the rain gods never opened up. Hence, with no external factors influencing the F1 race, Max Verstappen enjoyed a rather straightforward Sunday afternoon to beat Lewis Hamilton by a massive margin.
Behind the duo, Red Bull desperately attempted a 2-stop strategy for Sergio Perez in a bid to beat Valtteri Bottas, but the latter drove his heart out to secure the final podium position for Mercedes.
The gap on the points table has extended further with this race weekend, as the Dutchman is starting to make his battle against his title rival look one-sided.
F1 Race Start at the Red Bull Ring
Max Verstappen enjoyed a brilliant start, but it was all chaos behind the Dutchman. Hamilton had to defend his life out against Norris and Perez, who were right on his rear wing, going into turn 2.
Meanwhile, there was a massive tangle at the back, which started with Leclerc clipping Gasly’s rear-left tire. While the Monegasque escaped with front wing damage, Gasly, on the other hand, suffered the most, as suspension damage forced the Frenchman to end his race.
But it was not before he collected Giovinazzi and Latifi, going into turn 3. Up ahead, one of the biggest gainers of the tangle was Stroll and Russell, who leaped into P6 and P8, respectively.
On lap 10, Perez finally got himself ahead of Norris, placing himself on the top 3. Bottas made a very similar move on the Briton on the very next lap around turn 3. Behind Norris and Stroll, there was a train forming, between Alonso in P7 and Ocon in P14.
How the first pit window played out
The pit window finally opened on lap 22, and the first driver to opt for a stop was Mazepin. Up ahead, Russell was the first driver amongst the massive mid-field train to make his stop. But, the Briton spent a hefty 18.3 seconds on the pit box, as the crew noticed an issue with the side-pod.
A 4.3s stop from Perez meant that the Mexican lost the final podium position to Bottas. Meanwhile, Hamilton attempted an undercut against Verstappen, but the former merely pulled the gap down, as neither of them exchanged positions by the end of the first round of pit-stop.
Raikkonen and Ocon pitted on lap 37 after a long stint on the hard tires, as both switched to mediums. Leclerc and Russell pitted for the second time on lap 38, but the latter never exited pits as he ended up being the second DNF of the race. Sainz and Ricciardo were the last set of drivers to pit on lap 43.
The Spaniard came out in an advantageous P7 on fresh hard tires and pulled off an easy move on Stroll to move into P6 on the succeeding lap.
How the top 10 looked like in the end
Verstappen had a pleasant afternoon with not much trouble from his rival, as he went on to see the chequered flag in P1. Hamilton yet again failed to challenge the Dutchman and settled for P2.
Behind the duo, Perez and Bottas fought each other hard for the final podium position, only for the Mexican to claim it at the end, similar to last weekend’s race in France. Norris had an empty track ahead and behind, as the Briton drove a rather lonely race to P5.
Sainz put up a stellar first stint to gift himself P6 after starting from P12, while his teammate, Leclerc delivered a late charge to secure P7. Stroll gained the scraps from the lap 1 tangle to manage P8 for Aston Martin, with Alonso and Tsunoda closing out the top 10.
F1 Points Table following the Styrian GP
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 156
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 138
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 96
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 86
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 74
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 58
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 50
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 37
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 34
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 30
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 19
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 12
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 14
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 9
- Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) – 1
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) – 1
- George Russell (Williams) – 0
- Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 0
- Nikita Mazepin (Haas) – 0
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 0
Overall, what a weekend it turned out to be at the Red Bull Ring, starting with the Hamilton-Verstappen face-off and lap 1 crashes. So, with Austria set to host another race next weekend and wet weather likely to persist, will the upcoming weekend end up being even more exciting?
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