Verstappen rules as Mercedes falter in Austria

Max Verstappen delivered Red Bull’s first ever home victory during a crazy race at the Red Bull Ring in the hills of Austria last Sunday Afternoon.

During a hectic start it was Raikkonen who made the best start from third on the grid as he got himself in between the two Mercedes and was in second position in turn one, however, running wide on the exit and locking up in turn three and four and running wide in turns six and seven cost him two places dropping back to fourth.

The real eye opener of the day was that both Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valttari Bottas, after starting the race first and second on the grid, retired from the race due to gearbox and fuel pressure issues.

Bottas was the first of the two to retire which led to a Virtual safety car (VSC). Under a VSC, the drivers are given a time delta for a lap to match and cannot exceed the lap time. Unfortunately for Mercedes, they chose not to pit Hamilton under the VSC while Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Vettel all behind Hamilton did pit.

Effectively Hamilton lost eight seconds to the four drivers behind him from not pitting under the VSC. Even though Hamilton did come out in front of Vettel after he did eventually pit, it was clear he was struggling and 10 laps later the German was past his main championship rival.

Verstappen led from there on but tyres were becoming an issue for many of the drivers with Hamilton and Ricciardo complaining about blistering. Ricciardo pitted again for another set letting Vettel into the podium position after starting from sixth on the grid due to a three-place grid penalty.

Hamilton was then dropping time to Ricciardo behind him so had to pit again for fresher tyres. It was to be in vain for both drivers as Ricciardo lost hydraulics in the gearbox Hamilton soon pulled over himself to end his 33 race run of consecutive points finishes.

Back at the front, the Ferrari’s were getting the bit between their teeth, neither driver struggled with the tyres they were running and were pushing to catch Verstappen in the lead. Raikkonen indeed put in a track lap record on the last lap but the Red Bull held out for an unlikely but resilient home win.

Vettel reclaims the drivers’ championship lead by one point taking 15 points home while Ferrari also takes the lead in the constructor’s championship. It’s now onto Silverstone for the British Grand Prix next weekend in the last leg of the first ever triple header in Formula One.

Full Classification: 1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 4. Romain Grosjean (Haas), 5. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 6. Esteban Ocon (Force India), 7. Sergio Perez (Force India), 8. Fernando Alonso (McLaren), 9. Charles Leclerc (Sauber). 10. Marcus Ericcson (Sauber), 11. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso), 12. Carlos Sainz (Renault), 13. Lance Stroll (Williams), 14. Sergey Sirotkin (Williams)

DNF/Retired: Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Brendon Hartly (Toro Rosso), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)