In what can only be called one of the most interesting formula one seasons in a long time, the triple header is now past us with the summer break beckoning just around the corner. Let’s take a look at the events of the Austrian Grand Prix and how it’s impacting the Drivers and Constructors championship.
As expected heading into the weekend Max Verstappen won the race by quite a margin. He had a big enough lead to be able to make the second pitstop and grab the point for the fastest lap as well. The damage that Hamilton took to his car was enough for teammate Botass and Lando Norris both to be able to overtake him as he finished at a mere fourth position. The young Dutch is now sitting 32 points ahead of Lewis and will be feeling pretty comfortable heading into Silverstone.
Lando is not giving Perez any breathing room as he’s sitting right below him with just a three point gap for the third place. Although it’s highly unlikely for the McLaren driver to finish so high, it cannot be ruled out to due to his blistering form so far. In the middle of the pack Sainz seems to have regained his form from his McLaren days, as he’s taking the fight to his teammate and is just 2 points behind him in the race for 6th place
Red Bull have been absolutely flying as they pick their fifth consecutive win this weekend. Mercedes continue to lose their dominance as it seems like a Red Bull constructors win is inevitable. The Sliver arrows are now 44 points behind Redbull and have been constantly outperformed in every aspect of the races. Another point to notice is how Checo is getting really comfortable in that Red Bull car and is now able to give much better performances than Botass. McLaren managed to increase their lead against the Scuderia with brilliant drives from both Lando and Ricciardo. Things are really heating up in the middle of the table as Alphatauri have a slender four point lead on the Aston Martin. At the bottom of the pack Alpha Romeo sit with just the two points. Haas and Williams are yet to open their account which seems highly unlikely.
Driver of the day
Lando loves performing in Austria in front of the Red bull supporters or as he likes to call them “the McLaren supporters”. It’s been a year since Lando managed to grab his first pole at this very circuit. He gave an exceptional performance this weekend which left F1 fans begging for more.
Norris qualified P2 behind Max Verstappen and was only behind by 0.048 seconds. On his first ever start at the front row, Lando got out ahead of Perez and managed to keep ahead of the red bull and both the Mercedes in the beginning. Lando also got a very questionable 5 second penalty as a result of his defence against Perez. Despite the penalty and thanks to the damage to Lewis’s car, Lando Norris drove exceptionally well and subsequently finished on the podium at P3. Lando was just 2 seconds behind Botass and later came out in criticism of that penalty which basically cost him his first ever P2 finish in a race. This has been Lando’s best year in formula one so far as he’s the only driver on the grid who’s yet to finish outside of points. Lewis Hamilton was in awe of the young Phenom as he commented” Such a great driver, Lando” while passing him in the early part of the race. Norris is now just 3 points behind Perez and sits in fourth place heading into his home Grand Prix.
A long day at the office for the FIA
It was a very busy weekend for the FIA with there being a whole lot of incidents. Sergio Perez who was driving well till he forced Charles Leclerc off the track twice and being handed 5 second time penalty and 2 penalty points twice. He was also summoned for not respecting the yellow flags but no punishment was given. Lando Norris who was involved with Sergio Perez for pushing him off the track as well was handed a 5 second time penalty and 2 penalty points. Esteban ocon who had to retire from the race due to an incident in the very first lap cost his team Alpine a fine of €400 for speeding in the pitlane during FP3. Esteban Ocon wasn’t given any penalty, just the fine for his team.
One of the key factors of the weekend was in qualifying where Fernando Alonso showed decent pace especially in Q1, towards the end of Q2 he was in danger of getting eliminated but he was on a good lap going into turn 9 and due to Vettel eventually blocking him he couldn’t qualify for Q3 as a result. Vettel was handed a three-place grid penalty and one penalty point. Vettel again was involved in an incident with his former Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikonnen towards the end of the race where vettel was clipped from behind by Kimi Raikonnen which led to vettel not being able to finish the race.
Mercedes woes continue
Mercedes who have been struggling in the past few races couldn’t improve on their performance in Austria for the second time around even after bringing a reliability upgrade for the weekend. Red Bull have been miles ahead in the last three races with Paul Ricard being a massive example whereby Max Verstappen did a 2-stopper race enabling him to overtake Lewis Hamilton in lap 52 quite easily due to much fresher tyres.
Valtteri Bottas was not convincing either finishing only P4. With the last 2 races being at the Red bull ring it was pretty clear that Red bull would dominate but the fact that their gap was so superior just emphasizes the fact that Mercedes have a lot of work to do going into Silverstone as Toto Wolff did mention an upgrade will be coming to the car regarding the wind tunnel. Lewis Hamilton, who has a very strong record in silverstone would like another win in Britain but it may not be as straight-forward as it seems.
Dominant Russell gunning for the second Mercedes seat
The Williams’ driver George Russell who is having a consistent run of decent races and it is rather commendable for such a young driver to get the best out of the car. He started 8th after Vettel was involved in an incident with his fellow Formula 1 world champion, Fernando Alonso, he was given a 3 place grid penalty for the race. Some thought that eventually Russell would not be able to continue his pace and eventually drop-off but this wasn’t the case as he was on par with other racers around him and just lost the last points’ spot to Fernando Alonso who just edged past him in lap 63. Alonso later on came out and said “When I saw it was Russell in P10, I hoped it’d be anyone but him.”
With Valtteri Bottas putting up some disappointing performance recently at Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton just signing a new contract extension keeping him with the silver arrows till 2023. It all points to George Russell taking over the second spot at Mercedes replacing Valtteri Bottas. There was news that maybe Mercedes could announce George Russell as their driver at Silverstone. If this happens it would be certainly well deserved for Russell as his performances speak for himself.