Race Report: Max Verstappen glides to the win after an impeccable performance at the Austrian GP
Max Verstappen sailed to the win for a second consecutive weekend at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix!
The Dutchman dominated proceedings from lights out to chequered flag and has extended Red Bull’s lead in the driver’s and constructors’ standings.
Joining him on the podium this weekend was the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas while McLaren’s Lando Norris landed his fourth career podium this weekend, after crossing the line in P3.
The young British driver was also named Driver of the Day.
From lights out, Max Verstappen led into the first corner, while Lando Norris held onto second, with Perez third and the Mercedes chasing after.
Pierre Gasly tried to have a go at Valtteri Bottas heading into Turn Three but the top eight all managed to keep their positions heading into Turn Two.
Hamilton then tried to make a move on Perez around the outside of Turn 4 but the Red Bull held him off at this point.
Disaster struck early on for Esteban Ocon – who started 17th – after he received damage to his Alpine and had to park up at the side of the track after being caught between Schumacher and Giovinazzi at Turn Three – bringing about a yellow flag.
Moments later, Perez headed into the gravel after being pushed around the outside of Turn 4 by Lando Norris – demoting him down to 10th!
Lap 7 saw Verstappen extend his lead to over 2.8s on the medium tyre, ahead of Norris in second and Hamilton in third.
Antonio Giovinazzi was then handed a five-second time penalty for overtaking while the Safety Car was deployed earlier on – he would be the first of many time penalties given today.
Then, Lap 9 of 71 saw Max Verstappen continue to open his lead over Lando Norris, by around 4 seconds at this time with Lewis Hamilton continuing to hunt the McLaren with DRS.
Sergio Perez became the victim of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc on Lap 15 and was sent down to 8th.
Verstappen was now ahead by 6.7s, while Norris was continuing to hold Hamilton off. The gap was a mere .4s at this point with the younger British driver taking to the radio to say he knew the W12 behind was faster.
The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas remained in fourth heading into Lap 17 on the medium tyre with plenty of space between himself and Sebastian Vettel in 5th – 19.6s.
Stewards then confirmed that Yuki Tsunoda was the next driver to be subject to an investigation during today’s race while Norris and Perez were also under investigation for a Lap 4 incident that saw Norris push the Mexican driver into the gravel.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was making his way up the field this afternoon and made a successful overtake on Vettel on Lap 19. He was now stalking Bottas’s Mercedes, 21.2s up the road.
On Lap 21 stewards confirmed that Lando Norris would be handed a five-second penalty for forcing Sergio Perez off the track on the opening lap.
To make matters worse, he was then swiftly overtaken by Hamilton for second place with DRS up to Turn 4.
Just two laps later, another 5-second penalty was dished out to Yuki Tsunoda for crossing the white line on the pit exit – the Japanese driver was in 15th at this point.
Although Hamilton was up into second, he was still some way off the leading Red Bull of Max Verstappen who remained ahead by 10.3s heading into Lap 24.
Red Bull’s leader was in front of Lewis Hamilton by 13.7 seconds on Lap 32, as the British world champion headed into the pits for a new set of Hard Pirellis, and returned to the track in second.
On Lap 33 Verstappen followed suit and pitted from the lead. He returned to the track in the same position, and just like the rest of the top four, he opted for the hard tyres.
At the halfway mark, he was ahead by 16.1s on the same Hard tyres, with Hamilton next on the field, followed by his teammate Bottas 2.9s behind the leading W12.
Lando Norris was in fourth, followed by Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly in fifth and sixth, while Ricciardo was in 7th and the second Red Bull in 8th.
Closing out the top ten was the Ferrari of Leclerc in 9th and Tsunoda in 10th.
Lap 41 saw Perez force Leclerc into the gravel, inciting an investigation by the stewards for the incident at Turn 4. Moments later stewards issued Perez with a 5-second penalty.
Meanwhile, the gap between second and third-placed Mercedes was now under 2 seconds on Lap 46. Hamilton took to the team radio and said he couldn’t go much faster due to performance loss at the rear of his car.
Elsewhere in the field, Perez and Leclerc were going wheel-to-wheel once again on Lap 48 – and this time the Ferrari went into the gravel at Turn Six – bringing about yet another investigation for the Mexican.
As we headed into Lap 51, Verstappen’s lead was an extremely comfortable 21.2s as the Mercedes confirmed Hamilton had damage as he struggled in second followed closely by his teammate, Bottas.
The Finnish driver got ahead of his teammate Lewis and was now hunting down Verstappen’s RB16B.
Hamilton was holding off the McLaren of Lando Norris on Lap 54 for a while before the young British driver took third place from the Mercedes. He sped up behind Hamilton and dived down the inside of Turn 6.
With 11 laps left it looked as if Verstappen had this victory in the bag as he remained ahead by 26.9s, with Bottas in second and Norris in third.
Lap 61 saw Verstappen pit from the lead for a fresh set of Hard tyres, returning to the race at the front with 7.3s to spare.
There was major disappointment for the Williams of George Russell who was on his way to scoring the teams first points of the season, but on Lap 68, the Alpine of Fernando Alonso got around him, demoting him out of the points places.
Verstappen then glided to the win this afternoon, crossing the line with 17.6s to spare, followed by the Mercedes of Bottas in second and McLaren’s Lando Norris in 3rd after a brilliant race for the Woking-based team.
Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in third, 46s off the leading place, with Carlos Sainz in 5th, Sergio Perez in 6th.
The McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was in 7th, followed by the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in the eighth.
Closing out the top 10 this afternoon was the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly and Alpine’s Alonso in 9th and 10th respectively.